Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) consists of a group of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by behavioural and executive impairment, language disorders and motor dysfunction. About 20–30 % of cases are inherited in a dominant manner. Mutations in the microtubule-associated protein tau gene (MAPT) cause frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17T). Here we report a novel MAPT mutation (K298E) in exon 10 in a patient with FTDP-17T. Neuropathological studies of post-mortem brain showed widespread neuronal loss and gliosis and abundant deposition of hyperphosphorylated tau in neurons and glia. Molecular studies demonstrated that the K298E mutation affects both protein function and alternative mRNA splicing. Fibroblasts from a skin biopsy of the proband taken at post-mortem were directly induced into neurons (iNs) and expressed both 3-repeat and 4-repeat tau isoforms. As well as contributing new knowledge on MAPT mutations in FTDP-17T, this is the first example of the successful generation of iNs from skin cells retrieved post-mortem.
K298E MAPT mutation; Tauopathies; Human induced-neurons
An expanded GGGGCC repeat in a non-coding region of the C9orf72 gene is a common cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Non-coding repeat expansions may cause disease by reducing the expression level of the gene they reside in, by producing toxic aggregates of repeat RNA termed RNA foci, or by producing toxic proteins generated by repeat-associated non-ATG translation. We present the first definitive report of C9orf72 repeat sense and antisense RNA foci using a series of C9FTLD cases, and neurodegenerative disease and normal controls. A sensitive and specific fluorescence in situ hybridisation protocol was combined with protein immunostaining to show that both sense and antisense foci were frequent, specific to C9FTLD, and present in neurons of the frontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum. High-resolution imaging also allowed accurate analyses of foci number and subcellular localisation. RNA foci were most abundant in the frontal cortex, where 51 % of neurons contained foci. RNA foci also occurred in astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes but to a lesser degree than in neurons. RNA foci were observed in both TDP-43- and p62-inclusion bearing neurons, but not at a greater frequency than expected by chance. RNA foci abundance in the frontal cortex showed a significant inverse correlation with age at onset of disease. These data establish that sense and antisense C9orf72 repeat RNA foci are a consistent and specific feature of C9FTLD, providing new insight into the pathogenesis of C9FTLD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1200-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
FTLD; FTD; ALS; RNA foci; Antisense; C9orf72
Homozygous loss-of-function mutations in TREM2, encoding the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 protein, have previously been associated with an autosomal recessive form of early-onset dementia.
We used genome, exome, and Sanger sequencing to analyze the genetic variability in TREM2 in a series of 1092 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 1107 controls (the discovery set). We then performed a meta-analysis on imputed data for the TREM2 variant rs75932628 (predicted to cause a R47H substitution) from three genomewide association studies of Alzheimer's disease and tested for the association of the variant with disease. We genotyped the R47H variant in an additional 1887 cases and 4061 controls. We then assayed the expression of TREM2 across different regions of the human brain and identified genes that are differentially expressed in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and in control mice.
We found significantly more variants in exon 2 of TREM2 in patients with Alzheimer's disease than in controls in the discovery set (P = 0.02). There were 22 variant alleles in 1092 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 5 variant alleles in 1107 controls (P<0.001). The most commonly associated variant, rs75932628 (encoding R47H), showed highly significant association with Alzheimer's disease (P<0.001). Meta-analysis of rs75932628 genotypes imputed from genomewide association studies confirmed this association (P = 0.002), as did direct genotyping of an additional series of 1887 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 4061 controls (P<0.001). Trem2 expression differed between control mice and a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
Heterozygous rare variants in TREM2 are associated with a significant increase in the risk of Alzheimer's disease. (Funded by Alzheimer's Research UK and others.)
An expanded hexanucleotide repeat in the C9orf72 gene is the most common genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (c9FTD/ALS). We now report the first description of a homozygous patient and compare it to a series of heterozygous cases. The patient developed early-onset frontotemporal dementia without additional features. Neuropathological analysis showed c9FTD/ALS characteristics, with abundant p62-positive inclusions in the frontal and temporal cortices, hippocampus and cerebellum, as well as less abundant TDP-43-positive inclusions. Overall, the clinical and pathological features were severe, but did not fall outside the usual disease spectrum. Quantification of C9orf72 transcript levels in post-mortem brain demonstrated expression of all known C9orf72 transcript variants, but at a reduced level. The pathogenic mechanisms by which the hexanucleotide repeat expansion causes disease are unclear and both gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms may play a role. Our data support a gain-of-function mechanism as pure homozygous loss of function would be expected to lead to a more severe, or completely different clinical phenotype to the one described here, which falls within the usual range. Our findings have implications for genetic counselling, highlighting the need to use genetic tests that distinguish C9orf72 homozygosity.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1147-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
C9orf72; ALS; FTD
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration are rare diseases characterized by ubiquitin-positive inclusions lacking transactive response DNA-binding protein-43 and tau. Recently, mutations in the fused in sarcoma gene have been shown to cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal inclusions have subsequently been demonstrated in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions. Here we provide clinical, imaging, morphological findings, as well as genetic and biochemical data in 14 fused in sarcoma proteinopathy cases. In this cohort, the age of onset was variable but included cases of young-onset disease. Patients with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions all presented with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, while the clinical presentation in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease was more heterogeneous, including cases with motor neuron disease and extrapyramidal syndromes. Neuroimaging revealed atrophy of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes as well as the caudate in the cases with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions, but was more heterogeneous in the cases with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, often being normal to visual inspection early on in the disease. The distribution and severity of fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, neuronal intranuclear inclusions and neurites were recorded and fused in sarcoma was biochemically analysed in both subgroups. Fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions were found in the hippocampal granule cell layer in variable numbers. Cortical fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions were often ‘Pick body-like’ in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, and annular and crescent-shaped inclusions were seen in both conditions. Motor neurons contained variable numbers of compact, granular or skein-like cytoplasmic inclusions in all fused in sarcoma-positive cases in which brainstem and spinal cord motor neurons were available for study (five and four cases, respectively). No fused in sarcoma mutations were found in any cases. Biochemically, two major fused in sarcoma species were found and shown to be more insoluble in the atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions subgroup compared with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease. There is considerable overlap and also significant differences in fused in sarcoma-positive pathology between the two subgroups, suggesting they may represent a spectrum of the same disease. The co-existence of fused in sarcoma-positive inclusions in both motor neurons and extramotor cerebral structures is a characteristic finding in sporadic fused in sarcoma proteinopathies, indicating a multisystem disorder.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FUS; clinical presentation; neuropathology; biochemistry
An expanded hexanucleotide repeat in the C9ORF72 gene has recently been identified as a major cause of familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration and motor neuron disease, including cases previously identified as linked to chromosome 9. Here we present a detailed retrospective clinical, neuroimaging and histopathological analysis of a C9ORF72 mutation case series in relation to other forms of genetically determined frontotemporal lobar degeneration ascertained at a specialist centre. Eighteen probands (19 cases in total) were identified, representing 35% of frontotemporal lobar degeneration cases with identified mutations, 36% of cases with clinical evidence of motor neuron disease and 7% of the entire cohort. Thirty-three per cent of these C9ORF72 cases had no identified relevant family history. Families showed wide variation in clinical onset (43–68 years) and duration (1.7–22 years). The most common presenting syndrome (comprising a half of cases) was behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, however, there was substantial clinical heterogeneity across the C9ORF72 mutation cohort. Sixty per cent of cases developed clinical features consistent with motor neuron disease during the period of follow-up. Anxiety and agitation and memory impairment were prominent features (between a half to two-thirds of cases), and dominant parietal dysfunction was also frequent. Affected individuals showed variable magnetic resonance imaging findings; however, relative to healthy controls, the group as a whole showed extensive thinning of frontal, temporal and parietal cortices, subcortical grey matter atrophy including thalamus and cerebellum and involvement of long intrahemispheric, commissural and corticospinal tracts. The neuroimaging profile of the C9ORF72 expansion was significantly more symmetrical than progranulin mutations with significantly less temporal lobe involvement than microtubule-associated protein tau mutations. Neuropathological examination in six cases with C9ORF72 mutation from the frontotemporal lobar degeneration series identified histomorphological features consistent with either type A or B TAR DNA-binding protein-43 deposition; however, p62-positive (in excess of TAR DNA-binding protein-43 positive) neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions in hippocampus and cerebellum were a consistent feature of these cases, in contrast to the similar frequency of p62 and TAR DNA-binding protein-43 deposition in 53 control cases with frontotemporal lobar degeneration–TAR DNA-binding protein. These findings corroborate the clinical importance of the C9ORF72 mutation in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, delineate phenotypic and neuropathological features that could help to guide genetic testing, and suggest hypotheses for elucidating the neurobiology of a culprit subcortical network.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; motor neuron disease; neurodegenerative disorders; neuroimaging; genetics
Relating clinical symptoms to neuroanatomical profiles of brain damage and ultimately to tissue pathology is a key challenge in the field of neurodegenerative disease and particularly relevant to the heterogeneous disorders that comprise the frontotemporal lobar degeneration spectrum. Here we present a retrospective analysis of clinical, neuropsychological and neuroimaging (volumetric and voxel-based morphometric) features in a pathologically ascertained cohort of 95 cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration classified according to contemporary neuropathological criteria. Forty-eight cases (51%) had TDP-43 pathology, 42 (44%) had tau pathology and five (5%) had fused-in-sarcoma pathology. Certain relatively specific clinicopathological associations were identified. Semantic dementia was predominantly associated with TDP-43 type C pathology; frontotemporal dementia and motoneuron disease with TDP-43 type B pathology; young-onset behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia with FUS pathology; and the progressive supranuclear palsy syndrome with progressive supranuclear palsy pathology. Progressive non-fluent aphasia was most commonly associated with tau pathology. However, the most common clinical syndrome (behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia) was pathologically heterogeneous; while pathologically proven Pick's disease and corticobasal degeneration were clinically heterogeneous, and TDP-43 type A pathology was associated with similar clinical features in cases with and without progranulin mutations. Volumetric magnetic resonance imaging, voxel-based morphometry and cluster analyses of the pathological groups here suggested a neuroanatomical framework underpinning this clinical and pathological diversity. Frontotemporal lobar degeneration-associated pathologies segregated based on their cerebral atrophy profiles, according to the following scheme: asymmetric, relatively localized (predominantly temporal lobe) atrophy (TDP-43 type C); relatively symmetric, relatively localized (predominantly temporal lobe) atrophy (microtubule-associated protein tau mutations); strongly asymmetric, distributed atrophy (Pick's disease); relatively symmetric, predominantly extratemporal atrophy (corticobasal degeneration, fused-in-sarcoma pathology). TDP-43 type A pathology was associated with substantial individual variation; however, within this group progranulin mutations were associated with strongly asymmetric, distributed hemispheric atrophy. We interpret the findings in terms of emerging network models of neurodegenerative disease: the neuroanatomical specificity of particular frontotemporal lobar degeneration pathologies may depend on an interaction of disease-specific and network-specific factors.
frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; voxel-based morphometry; MRI; neural network
Amyloid molecules harboring pyroglutamate (pGlu) residue at the N-termini are considered to be important for the development of cerebral amyloidosis such as Alzheimer’s disease and thought to be either spontaneously generated or being catalyzed by glutaminyl cyclase. Familial British dementia (FBD) is an autosomal dominant form of dementia neuropathologically characterized by parenchymal amyloid and preamyloid deposits, extensive cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and neurofibrillary tangles. FBD is caused by a stop to Arg mutation in the BRI2 gene, generating de novo created amyloid molecule ABri which accumulates in FBD brains but is not present in the normal population. Soluble ABri molecules present in the circulation of carriers of the BRI2 mutation are 34 amino acids long exclusively harboring Glu residue at the N-termini (ABri1-34E), whereas water- and formic acid-soluble ABri molecules extracted from FBD brains have abundant ABri species bearing pGlu residue (ABri1-34pE), suggesting that pyroglutamate formation occurs at the site of deposition. In order to further clarify the mechanism (s) of ABri deposition, we studied whether pyroglutamate formation indeed occurs outside the central nervous system taking advantage that FBD is also a systemic amyloidosis. Soluble and fibrillar ABri molecules extracted from systemic organs and analyzed biochemically using a combination of immunoprecipitation, mass spectrometry, and western blot analysis were oligomeric in size and contained a large proportion of ABri1-34pE. The data indicate that pyroglutamate formation at the N-termini of ABri molecules is an early step in the process of FBD amyloid deposition, and its formation is not restricted to the central nervous system.
familial British dementia; ABri; pyroglutamate; amyloid; post-translational modification
In cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), amyloid fibrils deposit in walls of arteries, arterioles and less frequently in veins and capillaries of the central nervous system, often resulting in secondary degenerative vascular changes. Although the amyloid-β peptide is by far the commonest amyloid subunit implicated in sporadic and rarely in hereditary forms of CAA, a number of other proteins may also be involved in rare familial diseases in which CAA is also a characteristic morphological feature. These latter proteins include the ABri and ADan subunits in familial British dementia and familial Danish dementia, respectively, which are also known under the umbrella term BRI2 gene-related dementias, variant cystatin C in hereditary cerebral haemorrhage with amyloidosis of Icelandic-type, variant transthyretins in meningo-vascular amyloidosis, disease-associated prion protein (PrPSc) in hereditary prion disease with premature stop codon mutations and mutated gelsolin (AGel) in familial amyloidosis of Finnish type. In this review, the characteristic morphological features of the different CAAs is described and the implication of the biochemical, genetic and transgenic animal data for the pathogenesis of CAA is discussed.
Central nervous system; Cerebral amyloid angiopathy; Amyloid proteins; Amyloid-β; ABri; ADan; Cystatin C; Transthyretin; Prion protein; Gelsolin; Genetics; Biochemistry; Pathogenesis
We identified a case of Alzheimer’s disease with a deletion of the lysine residue at codon 280 (ΔK280) in exon 10-encoded microtubule-binding repeat domain of the tau gene (MAPT). This mutation was originally identified in a sporadic case of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) with a family history of Parkinson’s disease. In the original report, the authors were careful in their assessment of the pathogenicity and suggested one could not be sure whether the mutation was pathogenic or not. The mutation has always presented a conundrum because it is the only known mutation, of assumed pathogenicity, which increases the proportion of 3-repeat tau mRNA in in vitro assays. Here we present the clinical and pathological features of a new case with this mutation and discuss whether the mutation is indeed pathogenic.