Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a complex disorder with a clear genetic component. Three genes have been identified as the cause of early onset familial AD (EOAD). The most common form of the disease is, however, a sporadic one presenting itself in later stages of life (LOAD). The genetic component of this late onset form of AD has been the target of a large number of studies, since only one genetic risk factor (APOE4) has been consistently associated with the disease. However, technological advances allow new approaches in the study of complex disorders. In this review, we discuss the new results produced by genome wide association studies, in light of the current knowledge of the complexity of AD genetics.
Intronic expansion of the GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat within the C9ORF72 gene causes frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease in both familial and sporadic cases. Initial reports indicate that this variant within the frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis spectrum is associated with transactive response DNA binding protein (TDP-43) proteinopathy. The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease phenotype is not yet well characterized. We report the clinical and pathological phenotypes associated with pathogenic C9ORF72 mutations in a cohort of 563 cases from Northern England, including 63 with a family history of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. One hundred and fifty-eight cases from the cohort (21 familial, 137 sporadic) were post-mortem brain and spinal cord donors. We screened DNA for the C9ORF72 mutation, reviewed clinical case histories and undertook pathological evaluation of brain and spinal cord. Control DNA samples (n = 361) from the same population were also screened. The C9ORF72 intronic expansion was present in 62 cases [11% of the cohort; 27/63 (43%) familial, 35/500 (7%) cases with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease]. Disease duration was significantly shorter in cases with C9ORF72-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (30.5 months) compared with non-C9ORF72 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease (36.3 months, P < 0.05). C9ORF72 cases included both limb and bulbar onset disease and all cases showed combined upper and lower motor neuron degeneration (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Thus, clinically, C9ORF72 cases show the features of a relatively rapidly progressive, but otherwise typical, variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis associated with both familial and sporadic presentations. Dementia was present in the patient or a close family member in 22/62 cases with C9ORF72 mutation (35%) based on diagnoses established from retrospective clinical case note review that may underestimate significant cognitive changes in late disease. All the C9ORF72 mutation cases showed classical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathology with TDP-43 inclusions in spinal motor neurons. Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and glial inclusions positive for p62 immunostaining in non-motor regions were strongly over-represented in the C9ORF72 cases. Extra-motor pathology in the frontal cortex (P < 0.0005) and the hippocampal CA4 subfield neurons (P < 0.0005) discriminated C9ORF72 cases strongly from the rest of the cohort. Inclusions in CA4 neurons were not present in non-C9ORF72 cases, indicating that this pathology predicts mutation status.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72; dementia; neurodegeneration
To present a new family with tyrosine hydroxylase deficiency (THD) that presented with a new phenotype of predominant, levodopa-responsive myoclonus with dystonia due to compound heterozygosity of one previously reported mutation in the promoter region and a novel nonsynonymous mutation in the other allele, thus expanding the clinical and genetic spectrum of this disorder.
We performed detailed clinical examination of the family and electrophysiology to characterize the myoclonus. We performed analysis of the TH gene and in silico prediction of the possible effect of nonsynonymous substitutions on protein structure.
Electrophysiology suggested that the myoclonus was of subcortical origin. Genetic analysis of the TH gene revealed compound heterozygosity of a point mutation in the promoter region (c.1-71 C>T) and a novel nonsynonymous substitution in exon 12 (c.1282G>A, p.Gly428Arg). The latter is a novel variant, predicted to have a deleterious effect on the TH protein function and is the first pathogenic TH mutation in patients of African ancestry.
We presented a THD family with predominant myoclonus-dystonia and a new genotype. It is important to consider THD in the differential diagnosis of myoclonus-dystonia, because early treatment with levodopa is crucial for these patients.
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.
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
► Glucocerebrosidase gene mutations are a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. ► Glucocerebrosidase inhibition causes mitochondrial dysfunction & oxidative stress. ► These changes parallel important pathogenetic of Parkinson’s disease.
Mutations of the gene for glucocerebrosidase 1 (GBA) cause Gaucher disease (GD), an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder. Individuals with homozygous or heterozygous (carrier) mutations of GBA have a significantly increased risk for the development of Parkinson’s disease (PD), with clinical and pathological features that mirror the sporadic disease. The mechanisms whereby GBA mutations induce dopaminergic cell death and Lewy body formation are unknown. There is evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in PD and so we have investigated the impact of glucocerebrosidase (GCase) inhibition on these parameters to determine if there may be a relationship of GBA loss-of-function mutations to the known pathogenetic pathways in PD. We have used exposure to a specific inhibitor (conduritol-β-epoxide, CβE) of GCase activity in a human dopaminergic cell line to identify the biochemical abnormalities that follow GCase inhibition. We show that GCase inhibition leads to decreased ADP phosphorylation, reduced mitochondrial membrane potential and increased free radical formation and damage, together with accumulation of alpha-synuclein. Taken together, inhibition of GCase by CβE induces abnormalities in mitochondrial function and oxidative stress in our cell culture model. We suggest that GBA mutations and reduced GCase activity may increase the risk for PD by inducing these same abnormalities in PD brain.
Parkinson’s disease; Glucocerebrosidase; Autophagy; Mitochondria; Oxidative stress; Free radicals; Alpha-synuclein; Membrane potential; Neurodegeneration; Gaucher disease
Recent advances in genomics technologies have spurred unprecedented efforts in genome and exome re-sequencing aiming to unravel the genetic component of rare and complex disorders. While in rare disorders this allowed the identification of novel causal genes, the missing heritability paradox in complex diseases remains so far elusive. Despite rapid advances of next-generation sequencing, both the technology and the analysis of the data it produces are in its infancy. At present there is abundant knowledge pertaining to the role of rare single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in rare disorders and of common SNVs in common disorders. Although the 1,000 genome project has clearly highlighted the prevalence of rare variants and more complex variants (e.g. insertions, deletions), their role in disease is as yet far from elucidated.
We set out to analyse the properties of sequence variants identified in a comprehensive collection of exome re-sequencing studies performed on samples from patients affected by a broad range of complex and rare diseases (N = 173). Given the known potential for Loss of Function (LoF) variants to be false positive, we performed an extensive validation of the common, rare and private LoF variants identified, which indicated that most of the private and rare variants identified were indeed true, while common novel variants had a significantly higher false positive rate. Our results indicated a strong enrichment of very low-frequency insertion/deletion variants, so far under-investigated, which might be difficult to capture with low coverage and imputation approaches and for which most of study designs would be under-powered. These insertions and deletions might play a significant role in disease genetics, contributing specifically to the underlining rare and private variation predicted to be discovered through next generation sequencing.
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).
Cortical and cerebrovascular amyloid-beta (A-beta) deposition is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but also occurs in elderly people not affected by dementia. The apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon4 is a major genetic modulator of A-beta deposition and AD risk. Variants of the amyloid-beta protein precursor (A-betaPP) gene have been reported to contribute to AD and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). We analyzed the role of APOE and A-beta PP variants in cortical and cerebrovascular A-beta deposition, and neuropathologically verified AD (based on modified NIA-RI criteria) in a population-based autopsy sample of Finns aged ≥85 years (Vantaa85 + Study; n = 282). Our updated analysis of APOE showed strong associations of the epsilon4 allele with cortical (p = 4.91×10−17) and cerebrovascular (p = 9.87×10−11) A-beta deposition as well as with NIA-RI AD (p = 1.62×10−8). We also analyzed 60 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the A-betaPP locus. In single SNP or haplotype analyses there were no statistically significant A-betaPP locus associations with cortical or cerebrovascular A-beta deposition or with NIA-RI AD. We sequenced the promoter of the A-betaPP gene in 40 subjects with very high A-beta deposition, but none of these subjects had any of the previously reported or novel AD-associated mutations. These results suggest that cortical and cerebrovascular A-beta depositions are useful quantitative traits for genetic studies, as highlighted by the strong associations with the APOE epsilon4 variant. Promoter mutations or common allelic variation in the A-betaPP gene do not have a major contribution to cortical or cerebrovascular A-beta deposition, or very late-onset AD in this Finnish population based study.
Copy number variations (CNVs) are genomic regions that have added (duplications) or deleted (deletions) genetic material. They may overlap genes affecting their function and have been shown to be associated with disease. We previously investigated the role of CNVs in late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment using Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and National Institute of Aging-Late Onset AD/National Cell Repository for AD (NIA-LOAD/NCRAD) Family Study participants, and identified a number of genes overlapped by CNV calls. To confirm the findings and identify other potential candidate regions, we analyzed array data from a unique cohort of 1617 Caucasian participants (1022 AD cases and 595 controls) who were clinically characterized and whose diagnosis was neuropathologically verified. All DNA samples were extracted from brain tissue. CNV calls were generated and subjected to quality control (QC). 728 cases and 438 controls who passed all QC measures were included in case/control association analyses including candidate gene and genome-wide approaches. Rates of deletions and duplications did not significantly differ between cases and controls. Case-control association identified a number of previously reported regions (CHRFAM7A, RELN and DOPEY2) as well as a new gene (HLA-DRA). Meta-analysis of CHRFAM7A indicated a significant association of the gene with AD and/or MCI risk (P = 0.006, odds ratio = 3.986 (95% confidence interval 1.490–10.667)). A novel APP gene duplication was observed in one case sample. Further investigation of the identified genes in independent and larger samples is warranted.
The dominant and sometimes competing theories for the aetiology of complex human disease have been the common disease, common variant (CDCV) hypothesis, and the multiple rare variant (MRV) hypothesis. With the advent of genome wide association studies and of second-generation sequencing, we are fortunate in being able to test these ideas. The results to date suggest that these hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. Further, initial evidence suggests that both MRV and CDCV can be true at the same loci, and that other disease-related genetic mechanisms also exist at some of these loci. We propose calling these, pleomorphic risk loci, and discuss here how such loci not only offer understanding of the genetic basis of disease, but also provide mechanistic biological insight into disease processes.
To determine the genetic basis of familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) we performed a clinical and genetic analysis of an affected family. A 51-year-old man with behavioral variant FTLD with ALS had a family history of the disease suggestive of autosomal dominant inheritance with incomplete penetrance. Genetic studies in this patient demonstrated the presence of an amplified hexanucleotide repeat (>30) polymorphism in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) gene which was previously identified as a cause of FTLD. Five others unaffected from the family were negative (all had less than 11 repeats). Because of the clinical and pathological overlap between FTLD and AD we performed a larger genome-wide association study and did not find association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the C9ORF72 gene with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk. Bioinformatic analysis of C9ORF72 using the Gene Expression Omnibus database showed expression differences in patients with muscular dystrophy, neural tube defects, and schizophrenia. We also report analysis of gene expression in brain regions using the Allen Human Brain Atlas. Defects in this recently reported gene are now believed to be the most common cause of inherited ALS and an important cause of inherited FTLD. Our work suggests that the gene may also be important in other neurological and psychiatric conditions.
dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; ubiquitin; disinhibition; hexanucleotide repeat
Background and Purpose
Ischemic stroke has a strong familial component to risk. The Siblings with Ischemic Stroke Study (SWISS) is a genome-wide family-based analysis that included use of imputed genotypes. SWISS was conducted to examine associations between SNPs and risk of stroke and stroke subtypes within pairs.
SWISS enrolled 312 probands with ischemic stroke across 70 US and Canadian centers. Affected siblings were ascertained by centers and confirmed by central record review; unaffected siblings were ascertained by telephone contact. Ischemic stroke was subtyped using TOAST criteria. Genotyping was performed using an Illumina 610 quad array (probands) and an Illumina linkage V array (affected siblings). SNPs were imputed using 1000 Genomes Project data and MACH software. Family-based association analyses were conducted using the sibling-transmission disequilibrium test.
For all pairs, the correlation of age at stroke within pairs of affected siblings was r = 0.83 (95%CI, 0.78 to 0.86; P < 2.2×10−16). The correlation did not differ substantially by subtype. The concordance of stroke subtypes among affected pairs was 33.8% (kappa = 0.13; P = 5.06×10−4) and did not differ by age at stroke in the proband. Although no SNP achieved genome-wide significance for risk of ischemic stroke, there was clustering of the most associated SNPs on chromosomes 3p (NOS1) and 6p.
Stroke subtype and age at stroke in affected sibling pairs exhibit significant clustering. No individual SNP reached genome-wide significance. However, two promising candidate loci were identified, including one that contains NOS1, though these risk loci warrant further examination in larger sample collections.
Microglia, the immune cell of the brain, are implicated in cascades leading to neuronal loss and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent genome-wide association studies have indicated a number of risk factors for the development of late-onset AD. Two of these risk factors are an altered immune response and polymorphisms in complement receptor 1. In view of these findings, we discuss how complement signalling in the AD brain and microglial responses in AD intersect. Dysregulation of the complement cascade, either by changes in receptor expression, enhanced activation of different complement pathways or imbalances between complement factor production and complement cascade inhibitors may all contribute to the involvement of complement in AD. Altered complement signalling may reduce the ability of microglia to phagocytose apoptotic cells and clear amyloid beta peptides, modulate the expression by microglia of complement components and receptors, promote complement factor production by plaque-associated cytokines derived from activated microglia and astrocytes, and disrupt complement inhibitor production. The evidence presented here indicates that microglia in AD are influenced by complement factors to adopt protective or harmful phenotypes and the challenge ahead lies in understanding how this can be manipulated to therapeutic advantage to treat late onset AD.
To determine the frequency of mutations responsible for Gaucher's disease, we systematically sequenced the GBA1 gene as part of a molecular characterization of 73 adult patients in the United Kingdom. Five hitherto unknown pathogenic variants were identified, one of which is a splice site change; the others are novel missense mutations. Given that GBA1 gene mutations are an important risk factor for the development of Parkinson's disease, we contend that a complete analysis and molecular characterization of both the known and novel GBA1 variants will be needed before the biochemical processes underlying this genetic association can be fully understood.
► We report a comprehensive genotypic analysis of GBA1 in 73 Type I GD patients. ► We identified 5 new mutations in the GBA1 gene. ► The mutations we report here are clearly loss of function alleles.
Parkinson's disease; Genetics; Gaucher's disease; Glucocerebrosidase; GBA1 gene
In the current study we undertook a series of experiments to test the hypothesis that a monogenic cause of disease may be detectable within a cohort of Finnish young onset Parkinson’s disease patients. In the first instance we performed standard genome wide association analyses, and subsequent risk profile analysis. In addition we performed a series of analyses that involved testing measures of global relatedness within the cases compared to controls, searching for excess homozygosity in the cases, and examining the cases for signs of excess local genomic relatedness using a sliding window approach. This work suggested that the previously identified common, low risk alleles, and the risk models associated with these alleles, were generalizable to the Finnish Parkinson’s disease population. However, we found no evidence that would suggest a single common high penetrance mutation exists in this cohort of young onset patients.
Age is the major risk factor for many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's Disease (AD), for reasons that are not clear. The association could indicate that the duration or degree of exposure to toxic proteins is important for pathology, or that age itself increases susceptibility to protein toxicity. Using an inducible Drosophila model of AD, we investigated these possibilities by varying the expression of an Aβ42 transgene in neurons at different adult ages and measuring the effects on Aβ42 levels and associated pathological phenotypes. Acute induction of Arctic Aβ42 in young adult flies resulted in rapid expression and clearance of mRNA and soluble Arctic Aβ42 protein, but in irreversible expression of insoluble Arctic Aβ42 peptide. Arctic Aβ42 peptide levels accumulated with longer durations of induction, and this led to a dose-dependent reduction in negative geotaxis and lifespan. For a standardised level of mRNA expression, older flies had higher levels of Arctic Aβ42 peptide and associated toxicity, and this correlated with an age-dependent reduction in proteasome activity. Equalising Aβ42 protein at different ages shortened lifespan in correlation with the duration of exposure to the peptide, suggesting that Aβ42 expression accumulates damage over time. However, the relative reduction in lifespan compared to controls was greater in flies first exposed to the peptide at older ages, suggesting that ageing itself also increases susceptibility to Aβ42 toxicity. Indeed older flies were more vulnerable to chronic Aβ42 toxicity even with a much lower lifetime exposure to the peptide. Finally, the persistence of insoluble Aβ42 in both young and old induced flies suggests that aggregated forms of the peptide cause toxicity in later life. Our results suggest that reduced protein turnover, increased duration of exposure and increased vulnerability to protein toxicity at later ages in combination could explain the late age-of-onset of neurodegenerative phenotypes.
The G2019S leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) mutation is the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease (PD), clinically and pathologically indistinguishable from idiopathic PD. Mitochondrial abnormalities are a common feature in PD pathogenesis and we have investigated the impact of G2019S mutant LRRK2 expression on mitochondrial bioenergetics. LRRK2 protein expression was detected in fibroblasts and lymphoblasts at levels higher than those observed in the mouse brain. The presence of G2019S LRRK2 mutation did not influence LRRK2 expression in fibroblasts. However, the expression of the G2019S LRRK2 mutation in both fibroblast and neuroblastoma cells was associated with mitochondrial uncoupling. This was characterized by decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and increased oxygen utilization under basal and oligomycin-inhibited conditions. This resulted in a decrease in cellular ATP levels consistent with compromised cellular function. This uncoupling of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation was associated with a cell-specific increase in uncoupling protein (UCP) 2 and 4 expression. Restoration of mitochondrial membrane potential by the UCP inhibitor genipin confirmed the role of UCPs in this mechanism. The G2019S LRRK2-induced mitochondrial uncoupling and UCP4 mRNA up-regulation were LRRK2 kinase-dependent, whereas endogenous LRRK2 levels were required for constitutive UCP expression. We propose that normal mitochondrial function was deregulated by the expression of G2019S LRRK2 in a kinase-dependent mechanism that is a modification of the normal LRRK2 function, and this leads to the vulnerability of selected neuronal populations in PD.
The MAPT (microtubule-associated protein tau) locus is one of the most remarkable in neurogenetics due not only to its involvement in multiple neurodegenerative disorders, including progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, Parksinson's disease and possibly Alzheimer's disease, but also due its genetic evolution and complex alternative splicing features which are, to some extent, linked and so all the more intriguing. Therefore, obtaining robust information regarding the expression, splicing and genetic regulation of this gene within the human brain is of immense importance. In this study, we used 2011 brain samples originating from 439 individuals to provide the most reliable and coherent information on the regional expression, splicing and regulation of MAPT available to date. We found significant regional variation in mRNA expression and splicing of MAPT within the human brain. Furthermore, at the gene level, the regional distribution of mRNA expression and total tau protein expression levels were largely in agreement, appearing to be highly correlated. Finally and most importantly, we show that while the reported H1/H2 association with gene level expression is likely to be due to a technical artefact, this polymorphism is associated with the expression of exon 3-containing isoforms in human brain. These findings would suggest that contrary to the prevailing view, genetic risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases at the MAPT locus are likely to operate by changing mRNA splicing in different brain regions, as opposed to the overall expression of the MAPT gene.
In this issue of Neuron, Raj et al. (2012) and Zhou et al. (2012) use graph theory to suggest that neurodegenerative diseases spread diffusively via intrinsic brain networks. These studies provide a powerful model for understanding and predicting disease-specific profiles of neurodegeneration.
More than 800 published genetic association studies have implicated dozens of potential risk loci in Parkinson's disease (PD). To facilitate the interpretation of these findings, we have created a dedicated online resource, PDGene, that comprehensively collects and meta-analyzes all published studies in the field. A systematic literature screen of ∼27,000 articles yielded 828 eligible articles from which relevant data were extracted. In addition, individual-level data from three publicly available genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were obtained and subjected to genotype imputation and analysis. Overall, we performed meta-analyses on more than seven million polymorphisms originating either from GWAS datasets and/or from smaller scale PD association studies. Meta-analyses on 147 SNPs were supplemented by unpublished GWAS data from up to 16,452 PD cases and 48,810 controls. Eleven loci showed genome-wide significant (P<5×10−8) association with disease risk: BST1, CCDC62/HIP1R, DGKQ/GAK, GBA, LRRK2, MAPT, MCCC1/LAMP3, PARK16, SNCA, STK39, and SYT11/RAB25. In addition, we identified novel evidence for genome-wide significant association with a polymorphism in ITGA8 (rs7077361, OR 0.88, P = 1.3×10−8). All meta-analysis results are freely available on a dedicated online database (www.pdgene.org), which is cross-linked with a customized track on the UCSC Genome Browser. Our study provides an exhaustive and up-to-date summary of the status of PD genetics research that can be readily scaled to include the results of future large-scale genetics projects, including next-generation sequencing studies.
The genetic basis of Parkinson's disease is complex, i.e. it is determined by a number of different disease-causing and disease-predisposing genes. Especially the latter have proven difficult to find, evidenced by more than 800 published genetic association studies, typically showing discrepant results. To facilitate the interpretation of this large and continuously increasing body of data, we have created a freely available online database (“PDGene”: http://www.pdgene.org) which provides an exhaustive account of all published genetic association studies in PD. One particularly useful feature is the calculation and display of up-to-date summary statistics of published data for overlapping DNA sequence variants (polymorphisms). These meta-analyses revealed eleven gene loci that showed a statistically very significant (P<5×10−8; a.k.a. genome-wide significance) association with risk for PD: BST1, CCDC62/HIP1R, DGKQ/GAK, GBA, LRRK2, MAPT, MCCC1/LAMP3, PARK16, SNCA, STK39, SYT11/RAB25. In addition and purely by data-mining, we identified one novel PD susceptibility locus in a gene called ITGA8 (rs7077361, P = 1.3×10−8). We note that our continuously updated database represents the most comprehensive research synopsis of genetic association studies in PD to date. In addition to vastly facilitating the work of other PD geneticists, our approach may serve as a valuable example for other complex diseases.
Parkinson's disease (PD) occurs in both familial and sporadic forms, and both monogenic and complex genetic factors have been identified. Early onset PD (EOPD) is particularly associated with autosomal recessive (AR) mutations, and three genes, PARK2, PARK7 and PINK1, have been found to carry mutations leading to AR disease. Since mutations in these genes account for less than 10% of EOPD patients, we hypothesized that further recessive genetic factors are involved in this disorder, which may appear in extended runs of homozygosity.
We carried out genome wide SNP genotyping to look for extended runs of homozygosity (ROHs) in 1,445 EOPD cases and 6,987 controls. Logistic regression analyses showed an increased level of genomic homozygosity in EOPD cases compared to controls. These differences are larger for ROH of 9 Mb and above, where there is a more than three-fold increase in the proportion of cases carrying a ROH. These differences are not explained by occult recessive mutations at existing loci. Controlling for genome wide homozygosity in logistic regression analyses increased the differences between cases and controls, indicating that in EOPD cases ROHs do not simply relate to genome wide measures of inbreeding. Homozygosity at a locus on chromosome19p13.3 was identified as being more common in EOPD cases as compared to controls. Sequencing analysis of genes and predicted transcripts within this locus failed to identify a novel mutation causing EOPD in our cohort.
There is an increased rate of genome wide homozygosity in EOPD, as measured by an increase in ROHs. These ROHs are a signature of inbreeding and do not necessarily harbour disease-causing genetic variants. Although there might be other regions of interest apart from chromosome 19p13.3, we lack the power to detect them with this analysis.