Autosomal recessive parkinsonism genes contribute to maintenance of mitochondrial function. Two of these, PINK1 and parkin, act in a pathway promoting autophagic removal of depolarized mitochondria. Although recruitment of parkin to mitochondria is PINK1-dependent, additional components necessary for signaling are unclear. We performed a screen for endogenous modifiers of parkin recruitment to depolarized mitochondria and identified hexokinase 2 (HK2) as a novel modifier of depolarization-induced parkin recruitment. Hexose kinase activity was required for parkin relocalization, suggesting the effects are shared among hexokinases including the brain-expressed hexokinase 1 (HK1). Knockdown of both HK1 and HK2 led to a stronger block in parkin relocalization than either isoform alone, and expression of HK2 in primary neurons promoted YFP-parkin recruitment to depolarized mitochondria. Mitochondrial parkin recruitment was attenuated with AKT inhibition, which is known to modulate HK2 activity and mitochondrial localization. We, therefore, propose that Akt-dependent recruitment of hexokinases is a required step in the recruitment of parkin prior to mitophagy.
A preferential dysfunction/loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) accounts for the main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the most common degenerative movement disorder. However, the neuronal loss is not stochastic, but rather displays regionally selectivity, indicating the existence of different DA subpopulations in the SNpc. To identify the underlying molecular determinants is thereby instrumental in understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms of PD-related neuron dysfunction/loss and offering new therapeutic targets. Recently, we have demonstrated that aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1A1) is one such molecular determinant that defines and protects an SNpc DA neuron subpopulation preferentially affected in PD. In this review, we provide further analysis and discussion on the roles of ALDH1A1 in the function and survival of SNpc DA neurons in both rodent and human brains. We also explore the feasibility of ALDH1A1 as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for PD.
Parkinson’s disease; Substantia nigra pars compacta; Dopaminergic neuron; Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1; α-synuclein; Neurodegeneration; Aging
The overlapping clinical and neuropathologic features between late-onset apparently sporadic Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD), and other neurodegenerative dementias (frontotemporal dementia, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) raise the question of whether shared genetic risk factors may explain the similar phenotype among these disparate disorders. To investigate this intriguing hypothesis, we analyzed rare coding variability in 6 Mendelian dementia genes (APP, PSEN1, PSEN2, GRN, MAPT, and PRNP), in 141 LOAD patients and 179 elderly controls, neuropathologically proven, from the UK. In our cohort, 14 LOAD cases (10%) and 11 controls (6%) carry at least 1 rare variant in the genes studied. We report a novel variant in PSEN1 (p.I168T) and a rare variant in PSEN2 (p.A237V), absent in controls and both likely pathogenic. Our findings support previous studies, suggesting that (1) rare coding variability in PSEN1 and PSEN2 may influence the susceptibility for LOAD and (2) GRN, MAPT, and PRNP are not major contributors to LOAD. Thus, genetic screening is pivotal for the clinical differential diagnosis of these neurodegenerative dementias.
•We have used exome sequencing to investigate rare coding variability in Mendelian dementia genes (APP, PSEN1, PSEN2, GRN, MAPT, and PRNP) in a cohort composed of 141 late-onset sporadic Alzheimer's disease cases and 179 elderly controls, autopsy proven from the UK.•We report a novel mutation in PSEN1 (p.I168T) and a rare variant in PSEN2 (p.A237V), both likely pathogenic.•We conclude that PSEN1 and PSEN2 harbor susceptibility factors for sporadic Alzheimer's disease. By contrast, GRN, MAPT, and PRNP do not play a major role for the development of late-onset sporadic Alzheimer's disease.•Genetic screening is therefore pivotal for a clinical differential diagnosis of sporadic late-onset Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative dementias (frontotemporal dementia, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease).
Alzheimer's disease; Neurodegenerative dementia; APP; PSEN1; PSEN2; MAPT; GRN; PRNP; Exome sequencing
Early-onset Alzheimer's disease (EOAD) represents 1%–2% of the Alzheimer's disease (AD) cases, and it is generally characterized by a positive family history and a rapidly progressive symptomatology. Rare coding and fully penetrant variants in amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 (PSEN1), and presenilin 2 (PSEN2) are the only causative mutations reported for autosomal dominant AD. Thus, in this study we used exome sequencing data to rapidly screen rare coding variability in APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2, in a British cohort composed of 47 unrelated EOAD cases and 179 elderly controls, neuropathologically proven. We report 2 novel and likely pathogenic variants in PSEN1 (p.L166V and p.S230R). A comprehensive catalog of rare pathogenic variants in the AD Mendelian genes is pivotal for a premortem diagnosis of autosomal dominant EOAD and for the differential diagnosis with other early onset dementias such as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
Early-onset Alzheimer's disease; APP; PSEN1; PSEN2; British cohort
Subpopulations of dopaminergic (DA) neurons within the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) display a differential vulnerability to loss in Parkinson’s disease (PD); however, it is not clear why these subsets are preferentially selected in PD-associated neurodegeneration. In rodent SNpc, DA neurons can be divided into two subpopulations based on the expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1A1). Here, we have shown that, in α-synuclein transgenic mice, a murine model of PD-related disease, DA neurodegeneration occurs mainly in a dorsomedial ALDH1A1-negative subpopulation that is also prone to cytotoxic aggregation of α-synuclein. Notably, the topographic ALDH1A1 pattern observed in α-synuclein transgenic mice was conserved in human SNpc. Postmortem evaluation of brains of patients with PD revealed a severe reduction of ALDH1A1 expression and neurodegeneration in the ventral ALDH1A1-positive DA subpopulations. ALDH1A1 expression was also suppressed in α-synuclein transgenic mice. Deletion of Aldh1a1 exacerbated α-synuclein–mediated DA neurodegeneration and α-synuclein aggregation, whereas Aldh1a1-null and control DA neurons were comparably susceptible to 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium–, glutamate-, or camptothecin-induced cell death. ALDH1A1 overexpression appeared to preferentially protect against α-synuclein–mediated DA neurodegeneration but did not rescue α-synuclein–induced loss of cortical neurons. Together, our findings suggest that ALDH1A1 protects subpopulations of SNpc DA neurons by preventing the accumulation of dopamine aldehyde intermediates and formation of cytotoxic α-synuclein oligomers.
Mitochondrial DNA damage is thought to be a causal contributor to aging as mice with inactivating mutations in polymerase gamma (Polg) develop a progeroid phenotype. To further understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenotype, we used iTRAQ and RNA-Seq to determine differences in protein and mRNA abundance respectively in the brains of one year old Polg mutator mice compared to control animals. We found that mitochondrial respiratory chain proteins are specifically decreased in abundance in the brains of the mutator mice, including several nuclear encoded mitochondrial components. However, we found no evidence that the changes we observed in protein levels were the result of decreases in mRNA expression. These results show that there are post-translational effects associated with mutations in Polg.
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are progressive neurodegenerative disorders with overlapping clinical, biochemical and genetic features. To test the hypothesis that the Parkinson’s disease genes parkin and PINK1 also play a role in the pathogenesis of MSA, we performed a mutational screening study involving 87 pathology-proven MSA cases. In parkin we identified eight sequence variants and four heterozygous deletions, and in PINK1 we identified nine variants of which two silent mutations have not been previously reported (p.Gly189Gly and p.Arg337Arg). The frequencies of the observed variants were not significantly different from previously published control data and none of the possibly pathogenic variants were found in a homozygous state. Our results indicate that genetic variants at the parkin and PINK1 loci do not play a critical role in the pathogenesis of MSA.
multiple system atrophy; Parkinson’s disease; PINK1; parkin
Recent genome-wide association studies indicate that a simple alteration of Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene expression may contribute to the etiology of sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the expression and regulation of LRRK2 protein in the sporadic PD brains remain to be determined. Here, we found that the expression of LRRK2 protein was enhanced in the sporadic PD patients using the frontal cortex tissue from a set of 16 PD patients and 7 control samples. In contrast, no significant difference was detected in the level of LRRK2 mRNA expression between the control and PD cases, suggesting a potential post-transcriptional modification of the LRRK2 protein expression in the sporadic PD brains. Indeed, it was identified that microRNA-205 (miR-205) suppressed the expression of LRRK2 protein through a conserved-binding site at the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of LRRK2 gene. Interestingly, miR-205 expression was significantly downregulated in the brains of patients with sporadic PD, showing the enhanced LRRK2 protein levels. Also, in vitro studies in the cell lines and primary neuron cultures further established the role of miR-205 in modulating the expression of LRRK2 protein. In addition, introduction of miR-205 prevented the neurite outgrowth defects in the neurons expressing a PD-related LRRK2 R1441G mutant. Together, these findings suggest that downregulation of miR-205 may contribute to the potential pathogenic elevation of LRRK2 protein in the brains of patients with sporadic PD, while overexpression of miR-205 may provide an applicable therapeutic strategy to suppress the abnormal upregulation of LRRK2 protein in PD.
To date there are no structured interviews to ascertain the diagnostic criteria for headache in children. The objective of this study was to assess the validity of the Diagnostic Interview of Headache Syndromes–Child Version (DIHS-C), which was developed at the National Institute of Mental Health for a community-based family study of headache syndromes and comorbid disorders.
The DIHS-C is a fully structured diagnostic interview composed of an open-ended clinical history, modules with key symptoms for each of the major headache subtypes, and associated impairment, duration, frequency, course, and treatment. This article presents the validation of the interview in a sample of 104 children evaluated as part of a community-based family study of migraine.
The sensitivity of interview diagnosis compared with an expert neurologist’s diagnosis of migraine was 98%, and the specificity was 61%. Similar levels of sensitivity and specificity were found by gender and age of the children.
The DIHS-C provides a new tool that can enhance the reliability of pediatric diagnoses in both clinical and community settings.
headache; migraine; interview validation
The levels of microRNAs (miRNAs) are altered under different conditions such as cancer, senescence, and aging. Here, we have identified differentially expressed miRNAs in skeletal muscle from young and old rhesus monkeys using RNA sequencing. In old muscle, several miRNAs were upregulated, including miR-451, miR-144, miR-18a and miR-15a, while a few miRNAs were downregulated, including miR-181a and miR-181b. A number of novel miRNAs were also identified, particularly in old muscle. We also examined the impact of caloric restriction (CR) on miRNA abundance by reverse transcription (RT) followed by real-time, quantitative (q)PCR analysis and found that CR rescued the levels of miR-181b and chr1:205580546, and also dampened the age-induced increase in miR-451 and miR-144 levels. Our results reveal that there are changes in expression of known and novel miRNAs with skeletal muscle aging and that CR may reverse some of these changes to a younger phenotype.
gene expression; posttranscriptional gene regulation; muscle aging; muscle diseases
Genetic heterogeneity is common in many neurologic disorders. This is particularly true for the hereditary ataxias where at least 36 disease genes or loci have been described for spinocerebellar ataxia and over 100 genes for neurologic disorders that present primarily with ataxia. Traditional genetic testing of a large number of candidate genes delays diagnosis and is expensive. In contrast, recently developed genomic techniques, such as exome sequencing that targets only the coding portion of the genome, offer an alternative strategy to rapidly sequence all genes in a comprehensive manner. Here we describe the use of exome sequencing to investigate a large, 5-generational British kindred with an autosomal dominant, progressive cerebellar ataxia in which conventional genetic testing had not revealed a causal etiology.
Twenty family members were seen and examined; 2 affected individuals were clinically investigated in detail without a genetic or acquired cause being identified. Exome sequencing was performed in one patient where coverage was comprehensive across the known ataxia genes, excluding the known repeat loci which should be examined using conventional analysis.
A novel p.Arg26Gly change in the PRKCG gene, mutated in SCA14, was identified. This variant was confirmed using Sanger sequencing and showed segregation with disease in the entire family.
This work demonstrates the utility of exome sequencing to rapidly screen heterogeneous genetic disorders such as the ataxias. Exome sequencing is more comprehensive, faster, and significantly cheaper than conventional Sanger sequencing, and thus represents a superior diagnostic screening tool in clinical practice.
α-synuclein(α-syn) plays a prominent role in the degeneration of midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons in Parkinson disease (PD). However, only a few studies on α-syn have been carried out in the mDA neurons in vivo, which may be attributed to a lack of α-syn transgenic mice that develop PD-like severe degeneration of mDA neurons. To gain mechanistic insights into the α-syn-induced mDA neurodegeneration, we generated a new line of tetracycline-regulated inducible transgenic mice that overexpressed the PD-related α-syn A53T missense mutation in the mDA neurons. Here we show that the mutant mice developed profound motor disabilities and robust mDA neurodegeneration, resembling some key motor and pathological phenotypes of PD. We further systematically examined the subcellular abnormalities appeared in the mDA neurons of mutant mice, and observed a profound decrease of dopamine release, the fragmentation of Golgi apparatus, and impairments of autophagy/lysosome degradation pathways in these neurons. To further understand the specific molecular events leading to the α-syn-dependent degeneration of mDA neurons, we found that over-expression of α-syn promoted a proteasome-dependent degradation of nuclear receptor related 1 protein (Nurr1); while inhibition of Nurr1 degradation ameliorated the α-syn-induced loss of mDA neurons. Given that Nurr1 plays an essential role in maintaining the normal function and survival of mDA neurons, our studies suggest that the α-syn-mediated suppression of Nurr1 protein expression may contribute to the preferential vulnerability of mDA neurons in the pathogenesis of PD.
To test whether the synucleinopathies Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA) share a common genetic etiology, we performed a candidate single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) association study of the 384 most associated SNPs in a genome-wide association study of Parkinson’s disease in 413 MSA cases and 3,974 control subjects. The 10 most significant SNPs were then replicated in additional 108 MSA cases and 537 controls. SNPs at the SNCA locus were significantly associated with risk for increased risk for the development of MSA (combined p = 5.5 × 1012; odds ratio 6.2).
The chromosome 9p21 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD) locus contains one of the last major unidentified autosomal dominant genes underlying these common neurodegenerative diseases. We have previously shown that a founder haplotype, covering the MOBKL2b, IFNK and C9ORF72 genes, is present in the majority of cases linked to this region. Here we show that there is a large hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in the first intron of C9ORF72 on the affected haplotype. This repeat expansion segregates perfectly with disease in the Finnish population, underlying 46.0% of familial ALS and 21.1% of sporadic ALS in that population. Taken together with the D90A SOD1 mutation, 87% of familial ALS in Finland is now explained by a simple monogenic cause. The repeat expansion is also present in one third of familial ALS cases of outbred European descent making it the most common genetic cause of these fatal neurodegenerative diseases identified to date.
Using exome sequencing, we identified a p.R191Q amino acid change in the valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene in an Italian family with autosomal dominantly inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Mutations in VCP have previously been identified in families with Inclusion Body Myopathy, Paget’s disease and Frontotemporal Dementia (IBMPFD). Screening of VCP in a cohort of 210 familial ALS cases and 78 autopsy-proven ALS cases identified four additional mutations including a p.R155H mutation in a pathologically-proven case of ALS. VCP protein is essential for maturation of ubiquitin-containing autophagosomes, and mutant VCP toxicity is partially mediated through its effect on TDP-43 protein, a major constituent of ubiquitin inclusions that neuropathologically characterize ALS. Our data broaden the phenotype of IBMPFD to include motor neuron degeneration, suggest that VCP mutations may account for ~1–2% of familial ALS, and represent the first evidence directly implicating defects in the ubiquitination/protein degradation pathway in motor neuron degeneration.
Mutations in α-synuclein and Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are linked to autosomal dominant forms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, little is known about any potential pathophysiological interplay between these two PD-related genes. Here we show in transgenic mice that although over-expression of LRRK2 alone did not cause neurodegeneration, the presence of excess LRRK2 greatly accelerated the progression of neuropathological abnormalities developed in PD-related A53T α-synuclein transgenic mice. Moreover, we found that LRRK2 promoted the abnormal aggregation and somatic accumulation of α-synuclein in A53T mice, likely resulted from the impairment of microtubule dynamics, Golgi organization, and ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Conversely, genetic ablation of LRRK2 preserved the Golgi structure, suppressed the aggregation and somatic accumulation of α-synuclein, and thereby delayed the progression of neuropathology in A53T mice. These findings demonstrate that over-expression of LRRK2 enhances α-synuclein-mediated cytotoxicity and suggest inhibition of LRRK2 expression as a potential therapeutic option for ameliorating α-synuclein-induced neurodegeneration.
LRRK2; G2019S; α-synuclein; A53T; Golgi apparatus; microtubule; ubiquitin; mitochondria; aggregation; transgenic; knockout; Parkinson’s disease
The cause of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is largely unknown, but genetic factors are thought to play a significant role in determining susceptibility to motor neuron degeneration. To identify genetic variants altering risk of ALS, we undertook a two-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS): we followed our initial GWAS of 545 066 SNPs in 553 individuals with ALS and 2338 controls by testing the 7600 most associated SNPs from the first stage in three independent cohorts consisting of 2160 cases and 3008 controls. None of the SNPs selected for replication exceeded the Bonferroni threshold for significance. The two most significantly associated SNPs, rs2708909 and rs2708851 [odds ratio (OR) = 1.17 and 1.18, and P-values = 6.98 × 10−7 and 1.16 × 10−6], were located on chromosome 7p13.3 within a 175 kb linkage disequilibrium block containing the SUNC1, HUS1 and C7orf57 genes. These associations did not achieve genome-wide significance in the original cohort and failed to replicate in an additional independent cohort of 989 US cases and 327 controls (OR = 1.18 and 1.19, P-values = 0.08 and 0.06, respectively). Thus, we chose to cautiously interpret our data as hypothesis-generating requiring additional confirmation, especially as all previously reported loci for ALS have failed to replicate successfully. Indeed, the three loci (FGGY, ITPR2 and DPP6) identified in previous GWAS of sporadic ALS were not significantly associated with disease in our study. Our findings suggest that ALS is more genetically and clinically heterogeneous than previously recognized. Genotype data from our study have been made available online to facilitate such future endeavors.
Here we propose a simple statistical algorithm for rapidly scoring loci associated with disease or traits due to recessive mutations or deletions using genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping case–control data in unrelated individuals. This algorithm identifies loci by defining homozygous segments of the genome present at significantly different frequencies between cases and controls. We found that false positive loci could be effectively removed from the output of this procedure by applying different physical size thresholds for the homozygous segments. This procedure is then conducted iteratively using random sub-datasets until the number of selected loci converges. We demonstrate this method in a publicly available data set for Alzheimer′s disease and identify 26 candidate risk loci in the 22 autosomes. In this data set, these loci can explain 75% of the genetic risk variability of the disease.
disease network; homozygous segments; risk loci; statistical algorithm; whole-genome screening
Mutations in PfCRT (Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine-resistant transporter), particularly the substitution at amino acid position 76, confer chloroquine (CQ) resistance in P. falciparum. Point mutations in the homolog of the mammalian multidrug resistance gene (pfmdr1) can also modulate the levels of CQ response. Moreover, parasites with the same pfcrt and pfmdr1 alleles exhibit a wide range of drug sensitivity, suggesting that additional genes contribute to levels of CQ resistance (CQR). Reemergence of CQ sensitive parasites after cessation of CQ use indicates that changes in PfCRT are deleterious to the parasite. Some CQR parasites, however, persist in the field and grow well in culture, which may reflect adaptive changes in the parasite genome to compensate for the mutations in PfCRT. Using three isogenic clones that have different drug resistance profiles corresponding to unique mutations in the pfcrt gene (106/1K76, 106/176I, and 106/76I-352K), we investigated changes in gene expression in these parasites grown with and without CQ. We also conducted hybridizations of genomic DNA to identify copy number (CN) changes in parasite genes. RNA transcript levels from 45 genes were significantly altered in one or both mutants relative to the parent line, 106/1K76. Most of the up-regulated genes are involved in invasion, cell growth and development, signal transduction, and transport activities. Of particular interest are genes encoding proteins involved in transport and/or regulation of cytoplasmic or compartmental pH such as the V-type H+ pumping pyrophosphatase 2 (PfVP2), Ca2+/H+ antiporter VCX1, a putative drug transporter and CN changes in pfmdr1. These changes may represent adaptations to altered functionality of PfCRT, a predicted member of drug/metabolite transporter superfamily found on the parasite food vacuole (FV) membrane. Further investigation of these genes may shed light on how the parasite compensates for functional changes accompanying drug resistance mutations in a gene coding for a membrane/drug transporter.
Autosomal recessive mutations in the ALS2 gene lead to a clinical spectrum of motor dysfunction including juvenile onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2), primary lateral sclerosis, and hereditary spastic paraplegia. The 184-kDa alsin protein, encoded by the full-length ALS2 gene, contains three different guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor-like domains, which may play a role in the etiology of the disease. Multiple in vitro biochemical and cell biology assays suggest that alsin dysfunction affects endosome trafficking through a Rab5 small GTPase family-mediated mechanism. Four ALS2-deficient mouse models have been generated by different groups and used to study the behavioral and pathological impact of alsin deficiency. These mouse models largely fail to recapitulate hallmarks of motor neuron disease, but the subtle deficits that are observed in behavior and pathology have aided in our understanding of the relationship between alsin and motor dysfunction. In this review, we summarize recent clinical and molecular reports regarding alsin and attempt to place these results within the larger context of motor neuron disease.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); ALS2; Alsin; Rab5; Mouse model; Guanine-nucleotide-exchange factor; Primary lateral sclerosis; Hereditary spastic paraplegia
The completion of the Plasmodium falciparum genome represents a milestone in malaria research. The genome sequence allows for the development of genome-wide approaches such as microarray and proteomics that will greatly facilitate our understanding of the parasite biology and accelerate new drug and vaccine development. Designing and application of these genome-wide assays, however, requires accurate information on gene prediction and genome annotation. Unfortunately, the genes in the parasite genome databases were mostly identified using computer software that could make some erroneous predictions.
We aimed to obtain cDNA sequences to examine the accuracy of gene prediction in silico. We constructed cDNA libraries from mixed blood stages of P. falciparum parasite using the SMART cDNA library construction technique and generated 17332 high-quality expressed sequence tags (EST), including 2198 from primer-walking experiments. Assembly of our sequence tags produced 2548 contigs and 2671 singletons versus 5220 contigs and 5910 singletons when our EST were assembled with EST in public databases. Comparison of all the assembled EST/contigs with predicted CDS and genomic sequences in the PlasmoDB database identified 356 genes with predicted coding sequences fully covered by EST, including 85 genes (23.6%) with introns incorrectly predicted. Careful automatic software and manual alignments found an additional 308 genes that have introns different from those predicted, with 152 new introns discovered and 182 introns with sizes or locations different from those predicted. Alternative spliced and antisense transcripts were also detected. Matching cDNA to predicted genes also revealed silent chromosomal regions, mostly at subtelomere regions.
Our data indicated that approximately 24% of the genes in the current databases were predicted incorrectly, although some of these inaccuracies could represent alternatively spliced transcripts, and that more genes than currently predicted have one or more additional introns. It is therefore necessary to annotate the parasite genome with experimental data, although obtaining complete cDNA sequences from this parasite will be a formidable task due to the high AT nature of the genome. This study provides valuable information for genome annotation that will be critical for functional analyses.