Intermediate-length CAG expansions (encoding 27–33 glutamines, polyQ) of the Ataxin2 (ATXN2) gene represent a risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recently, it has been proposed that ≥31 CAG expansions may influence ALS phenotype. We assessed whether ATXN2 intermediate-length polyQ expansions influence ALS phenotype in a series of 375 patients of Sardinian ancestry. Controls were 247 neurologically healthy subjects, resident in the study area, age- and gender-matched to cases. The frequency of ≥31 polyQ ATNX2 repeats was significantly more common in ALS cases (4 patients vs. no control, p = 0.0001). All patients with ≥31 polyQ repeats had a spinal onset versus 73.3% of patients with <31 polyQ repeats. Patients with an increased number of polyQ repeats have a shorter survival than those with <31 repeats (1.2 vs. 4.2 years, p = 0.035). In this large series of ALS patients of Sardinian ancestry, we have found that ≥31 polyQ repeats of the ATXN2 gene influenced patients' phenotype, being associated to a spinal onset and a significantly shorter survival.
ALS; Ataxin 2 gene; Genetic modifier
A rare variant in TREM2 (p.R47H, rs75932628) was recently reported to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and, subsequently, other neurodegenerative diseases, i.e. frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson's disease (PD). Here we comprehensively assessed TREM2 rs75932628 for association with these diseases in a total of 19,940 previously untyped subjects of European descent. These data were combined with those from 28 published data sets by meta-analysis. Furthermore, we tested whether rs75932628 shows association with amyloid beta (Aβ42) and total-tau protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 828 individuals with AD or mild cognitive impairment. Our data show that rs75932628 is highly significantly associated with the risk of AD across 24,086 AD cases and 148,993 controls of European descent (odds ratio or OR = 2.71, P = 4.67 × 10−25). No consistent evidence for association was found between this marker and the risk of FTLD (OR = 2.24, P =.0113 across 2673 cases/9283 controls), PD (OR = 1.36, P =.0767 across 8311 cases/79,938 controls) and ALS (OR = 1.41, P =.198 across 5544 cases/7072 controls). Furthermore, carriers of the rs75932628 risk allele showed significantly increased levels of CSF-total-tau (P = .0110) but not Aβ42 suggesting that TREM2's role in AD may involve tau dysfunction.
Neurodegenerative disease; Alzheimer disease; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson disease; TREM2; R47H; rs75932628; Rare variant; Genetic association; GWAS; Imputation; Meta-analysis
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic, autoimmune, neuromuscular disease characterized by fluctuating weakness of voluntary muscle groups. Although genetic factors are known to play a role in this neuroimmunological condition, the genetic etiology underlying myasthenia gravis is not well understood.
To identify genetic variants that alter susceptibility to myasthenia gravis, we performed a genome-wide association study.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS
DNA was obtained from 1032 white individuals from North America diagnosed as having acetylcholine receptor antibody–positive myasthenia gravis and 1998 race/ethnicity-matched control individuals from January 2010 to January 2011. These samples were genotyped on Illumina OmniExpress single-nucleotide polymorphism arrays. An independent cohort of 423 Italian cases and 467 Italian control individuals were used for replication.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
We calculated P values for association between 8114394 genotyped and imputed variants across the genome and risk for developing myasthenia gravis using logistic regression modeling. A threshold P value of 5.0 × 10−8 was set for genome-wide significance after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing.
In the over all case-control cohort, we identified association signals at CTLA4 (rs231770; P = 3.98 × 10−8; odds ratio, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.25–1.49), HLA-DQA1 (rs9271871; P = 1.08 × 10−8; odds ratio, 2.31; 95% CI, 2.02 – 2.60), and TNFRSF11A (rs4263037; P = 1.60 × 10−9; odds ratio, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.29–1.53). These findings replicated for CTLA4 and HLA-DQA1 in an independent cohort of Italian cases and control individuals. Further analysis revealed distinct, but overlapping, disease-associated loci for early- and late-onset forms of myasthenia gravis. In the late-onset cases, we identified 2 association peaks: one was located in TNFRSF11A (rs4263037; P = 1.32 × 10−12; odds ratio, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.44–1.68) and the other was detected in the major histocompatibility complex on chromosome 6p21 (HLA-DQA1; rs9271871; P = 7.02 × 10−18; odds ratio, 4.27; 95% CI, 3.92–4.62). Association within the major histocompatibility complex region was also observed in early-onset cases (HLA-DQA1; rs601006; P = 2.52 × 10−11; odds ratio, 4.0; 95% CI, 3.57–4.43), although the set of single-nucleotide polymorphisms was different from that implicated among late-onset cases.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
Our genetic data provide insights into aberrant cellular mechanisms responsible for this prototypical autoimmune disorder. They also suggest that clinical trials of immunomodulatory drugs related to CTLA4 and that are already Food and Drug Administration approved as therapies for other autoimmune diseases could be considered for patients with refractory disease.
Mutations in CHCHD10 have recently been described as a cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) co-morbid with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The aim of this study was to assess the frequency and clinical characteristics of CHCHD10 mutations in Italian patients diagnosed with familial (n = 64) and apparently sporadic ALS (n = 224). Three apparently sporadic patients were found to carry c.100C>T (p.Pro34Ser) heterozygous variant in the exon 2 of CHCHD10. This mutation had been previously described in two unrelated French patients with FTD-ALS. However, our patients had a typical ALS, without evidence of FTD, cerebellar or extrapyramidal signs, or sensorineural deficits. We confirm that CHCHD10 mutations account for ∼1% of Italian ALS patients and are a cause of disease in subject without dementia or other atypical clinical signs.
Conserved populations, such as Sardinians, displaying elevated rates of familial or sporadic ALS provide unique information on the genetics of the disease. Our aim was to describe the genetic profile of a consecutive series of ALS patients of Sardinian ancestry. All ALS patients of Sardinian ancestry, identified between 2008 and 2013 through the ITALSGEN consortium, were eligible to be included in the study. Patients and controls underwent the analysis of TARDBP, C9ORF72, SOD1, and FUS genes. Genetic mutations were identified in 155 out of 375 Sardinian ALS cases (41.3%), more commonly the p.A382T and p.G295S mutations of TARDBP, and the GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat expansion of C9ORF72. One patient had both p.G295S and p.A382T mutation of TARDBP and eight carried both the heterozygous p.A382T mutation of TARDBP and a repeat expansion of C9ORF72. Patients carrying the p.A382T and the p.G295S mutations of TARDBP and the C9ORF72 repeat expansion shared distinct haplotypes across these loci. Patients with co-occurrence of C9ORF72 and TARDBP p.A382T missense mutation had a significantly lower age at onset and shorter survival. More than 40% of all cases on the island of Sardinia carry a mutation of an ALS-related gene, representing the highest percentage of ALS cases genetically explained outside of Scandinavia. Clinical phenotypes associated with different genetic mutations show some distinctive characteristics, but the heterogeneity between and among families carrying the same mutations implies that ALS manifestation is influenced by other genetic and non-genetic factors.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Sardinia; phenotype; genetics; penetrance; prognosis
In the isolated population of Sardinia, a Mediterranean island, ~25% of ALS cases carry either a p.A382T mutation of the TARDBP gene or a GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the first intron of the C9ORF72 gene.
To describe the co-presence of two genetic mutations in two Sardinian ALS patients.
We identified two index ALS cases carrying both the p.A382T missense mutation of TARDBP gene and the hexanucleotide repeat expansion of C9ORF72 gene.
The index case of Family A had bulbar ALS and frontemporal dementia (FTD) at 43. His father, who carried the hexanucleotide repeat expansion of C9ORF72 gene, had spinal ALS and FTD at 64 and his mother, who carried the TARDBP gene p.A382T missense mutation, had spinal ALS and FTD at 69. The index case of Family B developed spinal ALS without FTD at 35 and had a rapid course to respiratory failure. His parents are healthy at 62 and 63. The two patients share the known founder risk haplotypes across both the C9ORF72 9p21 locus and the TARDBP 1p36.22 locus.
Our data show that in rare neurodegenerative causing genes can co-exist within the same individuals and are associated with a more severe disease course.
Considerable advances have been made in our understanding of the genetics underlying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Nevertheless, for the majority of patients who receive a diagnosis of ALS, the role played by genetics is unclear. Further elucidation of the genetic architecture of this disease will help clarify the role of genetic variation in ALS populations.
To estimate the relative importance of genetic factors in a complex disease such as ALS by accurately quantifying heritability using genome-wide data derived from genome-wide association studies.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We applied the genome-wide complex trait analysis algorithm to 3 genome-wide association study data sets that were generated from ALS case-control cohorts of European ancestry to estimate the heritability of ALS. Cumulatively, these data sets contained genotype data from 1223 cases and 1591 controls that had been previously generated and are publically available on the National Center for Biotechnology Information database of genotypes and phenotypes website (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap). The cohorts genotyped as part of these genome-wide association study efforts include the InCHIANTI (aging in the Chianti area) Study, the Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta Register for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Repository, and an ALS specialty clinic in Helsinki, Finland.
Main Outcomes and Measures
A linear mixed model was used to account for all known single-nucleotide polymorphisms simultaneously and to quantify the phenotypic variance present in ostensibly outbred individuals. Variance measures were used to estimate heritability.
With our meta-analysis, which is based on genome-wide genotyping data, we estimated the overall heritability of ALS to be approximately 21.0% (95% CI, 17.1–24.9) (SE = 2.0%), indicating that additional genetic variation influencing risk of ALS loci remains to be identified. Furthermore, we identified 17 regions of the genome that display significantly high heritability estimates. Eleven of these regions represent novel candidate regions for ALS risk.
Conclusions and Relevance
We found the heritability of ALS to be significantly higher than previously reported. We also identified multiple, novel genomic regions that we hypothesize may contain causative risk variants that influence susceptibility to ALS.
Mutations in C9ORF72, SOD1, TARDBP and FUS genes account for approximately two third of familial cases and 5% of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases. We present the first case of an ALS patient carrying a de novo nonsense mutation in exon 14 of the FUS gene (c.1483c>t; p.R495X) in a young patient with an apparently familial ALS. This mutation cause a phenotype characterized by a young age at onset, a rapid course (<24 months) and a bulbar onset with early respiratory involvement with a predominant lower motor neuron disease. De novo mutations could account for a sizable number of apparently sporadic ALS patients carrying mutations of ALS-related genes.
Genome-wide association studies have been successful in identifying common variants that influence the susceptibility to complex diseases. From these studies, it has emerged that there is substantial overlap in susceptibility loci between diseases. In line with those findings, we hypothesized that shared genetic pathways may exist between multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While both diseases may have inflammatory and neurodegenerative features, epidemiological studies have indicated an increased co-occurrence within individuals and families. To this purpose, we combined genome-wide data from 4088 MS patients, 3762 ALS patients and 12 030 healthy control individuals in whom 5 440 446 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were successfully genotyped or imputed. We tested these SNPs for the excess association shared between MS and ALS and also explored whether polygenic models of SNPs below genome-wide significance could explain some of the observed trait variance between diseases. Genome-wide association meta-analysis of SNPs as well as polygenic analyses fails to provide evidence in favor of an overlap in genetic susceptibility between MS and ALS. Hence, our findings do not support a shared genetic background of common risk variants in MS and ALS.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may appear to be familial or sporadic, with recognised dominant and recessive inheritance in a proportion of cases. Sporadic ALS may be caused by rare homozygous recessive mutations. We studied patients and controls from the UK and a multinational pooled analysis of GWAS data on homozygosity in ALS to determine any potential recessive variant leading to the disease. Six-hundred and twenty ALS and 5169 controls were studied in the UK cohort. A total of 7646 homozygosity segments with length >2 Mb were identified, and 3568 rare segments remained after filtering ‘common' segments. The mean total of the autosomal genome with homozygosity segments was longer in ALS than in controls (unfiltered segments, P=0.05). Two-thousand and seventeen ALS and 6918 controls were studied in the pooled analysis. There were more regions of homozygosity segments per case (P=1 × 10−5), a greater proportion of cases harboured homozygosity (P=2 × 10−5), a longer average length of segment (P=1 × 10−5), a longer total genome coverage (P=1 × 10−5), and a higher rate of these segments overlapped with RefSeq gene regions (P=1 × 10−5), in ALS patients than controls. Positive associations were found in three regions. The most significant was in the chromosome 21 SOD1 region, and also chromosome 1 2.9–4.8 Mb, and chromosome 5 in the 65 Mb region. There are more than twenty potential genes in these regions. These findings point to further possible rare recessive genetic causes of ALS, which are not identified as common variants in GWAS.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; homozygosity; recessive
Conventional karyotyping (550 bands resolution) is able to identify chromosomal aberrations >5-10 Mb, which represent a known cause of intellectual disability/developmental delay (ID/DD) and/or multiple congenital anomalies (MCA). Array-Comparative Genomic Hybridization (array-CGH) has increased the diagnostic yield of 15-20%.
In a cohort of 700 ID/DD cases with or without MCA, including 15 prenatal diagnoses, we identified a subgroup of seven patients with a normal karyotype and a large complex rearrangement detected by array-CGH (at least 6, and up to 18 Mb). FISH analysis could be performed on six cases and showed that rearrangements were translocation derivatives, indistinguishable from a normal karyotype as they involved a similar band pattern and size. Five were inherited from a parent with a balanced translocation, whereas two were apparently de novo. Genes spanning the rearrangements could be associated with some phenotypic features in three cases (case 3: DOCK8; case 4: GATA3, AKR1C4; case 6: AS/PWS deletion, CHRNA7), and in two, likely disease genes were present (case 5: NR2F2, TP63, IGF1R; case 7: CDON). Three of our cases were prenatal diagnoses with an apparently normal karyotype.
Large complex rearrangements of up to 18 Mb, involving chromosomal regions with similar size and band appearance may be overlooked by conventional karyotyping. Array-CGH allows a precise chromosomal diagnosis and recurrence risk definition, further confirming this analysis as a first tier approach to clarify molecular bases of ID/DD and/or MCA. In prenatal tests, array-CGH is confirmed as an important tool to avoid false negative results due to karyotype intrinsic limit of detection.
GTG-banding; Array-CGH; Unbalanced derivative chromosomes; CNV; Genomic rearrangement; Intellectual disability
MATR3 is an RNA/DNA binding protein that interacts with TDP-43, a major disease protein linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and fronto-temporal dementia. Using exome sequencing, we identified mutations in MATR3 in ALS kindreds. We also observed MATR3 pathology in the spinal cords of ALS cases with and without MATR3 mutations. Our data provide additional evidence supporting the role of aberrant RNA processing in motor neuron degeneration.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may appear to be familial or sporadic, with recognized dominant and recessive inheritance in a proportion of cases. Sporadic ALS may be caused by rare homozygous recessive mutations. We studied patients and controls from the UK and a multinational pooled analysis of GWAS data on homozygosity in ALS to determine any potential recessive variant leading to the disease. 620 ALS and 5169 controls were studied in the UK cohort. A total of 7646 homozygosity segments with length >2Mb were identified, and 3568 rare segments remained after filtering “common” segments. The mean total of the autosomal genome with homozygosity segments was longer in ALS than in controls (unfiltered segments, p=0.05). 2017 ALS and 6918 controls were studied in the pooled analysis. There were more regions of homozygosity segments per case (p=1×10−5), a greater proportion of cases harboured homozygosity (p=2×10−5), a longer average length of segment (p=1×10−5), a longer total genome coverage (p=1×10−5), and a higher rate of these segments overlapped with RefSeq gene regions (p=1×10−5), in ALS patients than controls. Positive associations were found in three regions. The most significant was in the chromosome 21 SOD1 region, and also chromosome 1 2.9Mb to 4.8Mb, and chromosome 5 in the 65Mb region. There are more than twenty potential genes in these regions. These findings point to further possible rare recessive genetic causes of ALS which are not identified as common variants in GWAS.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; homozygosity; genetics; recessive
Based on our previous finding of the p.A382T founder mutation in ALS patients with concomitant parkinsonism in the Sardinian population, we hypothesized that the same variant may underlie PD and/or other forms of degenerative parkinsonism on this Mediterranean island.
We screened a cohort of 611 patients with PD (544 cases) and other forms of degenerative parkinsonism (67 cases), and 604 unrelated controls for the c.1144G>A (p.A382T) missense mutation of the TARDBP gene.
The p.A382T mutation was identified in 9 patients with parkinsonism. Of these, 5 (0.9% of PD patients) presented a typical PD (2 with familiar forms), while 4 patients (6.0% of all other forms of parkinsonism) presented a peculiar clinical presentation quite different from classical atypical parkinsonism with an overlap of extrapyramidal-pyramidal-cognitive clinical signs. The mutation was found in 8 Sardinian controls (1.3%) consistent with a founder mutation in the island population.
Our findings suggest that the clinical presentation of the p.A382T TARDBP gene mutation may include forms of parkinsonism in which the extrapyramidal signs are the crucial core of the disease at onset. These forms can present PSP or CBD-like clinical signs, with bulbar and/or extrabulbar pyramidal signs and cognitive impairment. No evidence of association has been found between TARDBP gene mutation and typical PD.
TARDBP gene mutation; degenerative parkinsonism; TDP-43 Proteinopathies; Sardinia
The common variant rs12608932, located within an intron of UNC13A gene on chromosome 19p13.3, has been suggested to influence susceptibility to ALS, as well as survival, in patients of north European descent. To examine this possibility further, we evaluated the association of rs12608932 with susceptibility and survival in a population-based cohort of 500 Italian ALS patients and 1,457 Italian control samples. Although rs12608932 was not associated to ALS susceptibility in our series (p=0.124), it was significantly associated with survival under the recessive model (median survival for AA/AC genotypes = 3.5 years [IQR 2.2–6.4]; CC = 2.5 years [IQR 1.6–4.2]; p=0.017). Furthermore, rs12608932 genotype remained an independent prognostic factor in Cox multivariable analysis adjusting for other factors known to influence survival (p=0.023). Overall, minor allele carrier status of rs12608932 was strongly associated with an ~1-year reduction of survival in ALS patients, making it a significant determinant of phenotype variation. The identification of UNC13A as a modifier of prognosis among sporadic ALS patients potentially provides a new therapeutic target aimed at slowing disease progression.
To assess the frequency and clinical characteristics of patients with mutations of
major amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) genes in a prospectively ascertained,
population-based epidemiologic series of cases.
The study population includes all ALS cases diagnosed in Piemonte, Italy, from
January 2007 to June 2011. Mutations of SOD1, TARDBP, ANG, FUS,
OPTN, and C9ORF72 have been assessed.
Out of the 475 patients included in the study, 51 (10.7%) carried a
mutation of an ALS-related gene (C9ORF72, 32;
SOD1, 10; TARDBP, 7; FUS, 1;
OPTN, 1; ANG, none). A positive family
history for ALS or frontotemporal dementia (FTD) was found in 46 (9.7%)
patients. Thirty-one (67.4%) of the 46 familial cases and 20 (4.7%)
of the 429 sporadic cases had a genetic mutation. According to logistic regression
modeling, besides a positive family history for ALS or FTD, the chance to carry a
genetic mutation was related to the presence of comorbid FTD (odds ratio 3.5;
p = 0.001), and age at onset ≤54 years (odds
ratio 1.79; p = 0.012).
We have found that ∼11% of patients with ALS carry a genetic
mutation, with C9ORF72 being the commonest genetic alteration.
Comorbid FTD or a young age at onset are strong indicators of a possible genetic
origin of the disease.
We recently reported that mutations in the VCP gene are a cause of 1–2% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases, but their role in the pathogenesis of sporadic ALS is unclear. We undertook mutational screening of VCP in 701 sporadic ALS cases. Three pathogenic variants (p.Arg159Cys, p.Asn387Thr, and p.R662C) were found in three US cases, each of whom presented with progressive upper and lower motor neuron signs consistent with definite ALS by El Escorial diagnostic criteria. Our data indicate that VCP mutations may underlie apparently sporadic ALS, but account for less than 1% of this form of disease.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; valosin-containing protein; mutations; sporadic disease
It has been recently reported that a large proportion of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (familial ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are associated with a hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in the first intron of C9ORF72. We have assessed 1,757 Italian sporadic ALS cases, 133 from Sardinia, 101 from Sicily, and 1,523 from mainland Italy. Sixty (3.7%) of 1,624 mainland Italians and Sicilians and 9 (6.8%) of the 133 Sardinian sporadic ALS cases carried the pathogenic repeat expansion. None of the 619 regionally-matched control samples (1,238 chromosomes) carried the expansion. Twenty-five cases (36.2%) had behavioral FTD in addition to ALS. FTD or unspecified dementia was also detected in 19 pedigrees (27.5%) in first-degree relatives of ALS patients. Cases carrying the C9ORF72 hexanucleotide expansion survived one year less than cases who did not carry this mutation. In conclusion, we found that C9ORF72 hexanucloetide repeat expansions represents a sizeable proportion of apparent sporadic ALS in the Italian and Sardinian population, representing by far the commonest mutation in Italy and the second more common in Sardinia.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72; frontotemporal dementia; survival
A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene has recently been shown to cause a large proportion of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and fronto-temporal dementia (FTD).
We screened 4,448 patients diagnosed with ALS and 1,425 patients diagnosed with FTD drawn from diverse populations for the hexanucleotide expansion using a repeat-primed PCR assay. ALS and FTD were diagnosed according to the El Escorial and Lund-Manchester criteria respectively. Familial status was based on self-reported family history of similar neurodegenerative diseases at the time of sample collection. Haplotype data of 262 patients carrying the expansion were compared with the known Finnish founder risk haplotype across the chromosomal locus. Age-related penetrance was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method using data from 603 individuals carrying the expansion.
The mutation was observed among 7·0% (n = 236 of 3,377) of Caucasians, 4·1% (n = 2 of 49) of African-Americans, and 8·3% (n = 6 of 72) of Hispanic individuals diagnosed with sporadic ALS, whereas the rate was 6·0% (n = 59 of 981) among Caucasians diagnosed with sporadic FTD. Among Asians, 5·0% (n = 1 of 20) of familial ALS and 66·6% (n = 2 of 3) of familial FTD cases carried the repeat expansion. In contrast, mutations were not observed among patients of Native American (n = 3 sporadic ALS), Indian (n = 31 sporadic ALS, n = 31 sporadic FTD), and Pacific Islander (n = 90 sporadic ALS) ethnicity. All patients with the repeat expansion carried, either partially or fully, the founder haplotype suggesting that the expansion occurred on a single occasion in the past (~1,500 years ago). The pathogenic expansion was non-penetrant below 35 years of age, increasing to 50·0% penetrance by 58 years of age, and was almost fully penetrant by 80 years of age.
We confirm that a common single Mendelian genetic lesion is implicated in a large proportion of sporadic and familial ALS and FTD. Testing for this pathogenic expansion will be important in the management and genetic counseling of patients with these fatal neurodegenerative diseases.
A large hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in the first intron of C9ORF72, a gene located on chromosome 9p21, has been recently reported to be responsible for ∼40% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases of European ancestry. The aim of the current article was to describe the phenotype of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases carrying the expansion by providing a detailed clinical description of affected cases from representative multi-generational kindreds, and by analysing the age of onset, gender ratio and survival in a large cohort of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We collected DNA and analysed phenotype data for 141 index Italian familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases (21 of Sardinian ancestry) and 41 German index familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases. Pathogenic repeat expansions were detected in 45 (37.5%) patients from mainland Italy, 12 (57.1%) patients of Sardinian ancestry and nine (22.0%) of the 41 German index familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases. The disease was maternally transmitted in 27 (49.1%) pedigrees and paternally transmitted in 28 (50.9%) pedigrees (P = non-significant). On average, children developed disease 7.0 years earlier than their parents [children: 55.8 years (standard deviation 7.9), parents: 62.8 (standard deviation 10.9); P = 0.003]. Parental phenotype influenced the type of clinical symptoms manifested by the child: of the 13 cases where the affected parent had an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–frontotemporal dementia or frontotemporal dementia, the affected child also developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–frontotemporal dementia in nine cases. When compared with patients carrying mutations of other amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-related genes, those with C9ORF72 expansion had commonly a bulbar onset (42.2% compared with 25.0% among non-C9ORF72 expansion cases, P = 0.03) and cognitive impairment (46.7% compared with 9.1% among non-C9ORF72 expansion cases, P = 0.0001). Median survival from symptom onset among cases carrying C9ORF72 repeat expansion was 3.2 years lower than that of patients carrying TARDBP mutations (5.0 years; 95% confidence interval: 3.6–7.2) and longer than those with FUS mutations (1.9 years; 95% confidence interval: 1.7–2.1). We conclude that C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions were the most frequent mutation in our large cohort of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis of Italian, Sardinian and German ancestry. Together with mutation of SOD1, TARDBP and FUS, mutations of C9ORF72 account for ∼60% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Italy. Patients with C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions present some phenotypic differences compared with patients with mutations of other genes or with unknown mutations, namely a high incidence of bulbar-onset disease and comorbidity with frontotemporal dementia. Their pedigrees typically display a high frequency of cases with pure frontotemporal dementia, widening the concept of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; familial ALS, C9ORF72 gene; phenotype–genotype correlation
TAR DNA-binding protein 43, encoded by the TARDBP gene, has been identified as the major pathological protein of frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD) with or without amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and sporadic ALS. Subsequently, mutations in the TARDBP gene have been detected in 2% to 3% of patients with ALS (both familial and sporadic ALS). However, to our knowledge, there is only 1 description of 2 patients with FTLD and TARDBP gene mutations who later developed motor neuron disease.
To describe cognitive abnormalities in 3 Italian families with familial ALS and TARDBP gene mutations.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Genetic, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging analyses in 36 patients with familial non–superoxide dismutase 1 gene (SOD1) ALS and 280 healthy controls.
Main Outcome Measure
We identified 3 index cases of familial ALS carrying the p.Ala382Thr missense mutation of the TARDBP gene and with clinical, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological features of FTLD.
The p.Ala382Thr missense mutation of the TARDBP gene was absent in the 280 controls. It was present in all affected members of the 3 families for whom DNA was available. All affected members of the 3 families developed FTLD after the onset of ALS, confirmed by neuropsychological testing and hypometabolism in frontal associative areas assessed with fludeoxyglucose F 18 positron emission tomography and computed tomography.
Three apparently unrelated families with familial ALS carrying the p.Ala382Thr TARDBP missense mutation developed FTLD. In these families, FTLD co-segregates with ALS. Patients with ALS carrying TARDBP mutations may develop FTLD.
Mutations in the valosin-containing protein gene (VCP) have been identified in neurological disorders (IBMPFD and ALS) and are thought to play a role in the clearance of abnormally folded proteins. Parkinsonism has been noted in kindreds with VCP mutations. Based on this, we hypothesized that mutations in VCP may also contribute to idiopathic PD. We screened the coding region of the VCP gene in a large cohort of 768 late onset PD cases (average age at onset = 70 years), both sporadic and with positive family history. We identified a number of rare single nucleotide changes, including a variant previously described to be pathogenic, but no clear disease-causing variants. We conclude that mutations in VCP are not a common cause for idiopathic PD.
We and others have recently reported an association between ALS and single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 9p21 in several populations. Here we show that the associated haplotype is the same in all populations and that several families previously shown to have genetic linkage to this region also share this haplotype. The most parsimonious explanation of these data is that there is a single founder for this form of disease.
Genetics; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; Finland