Publications by authors named "Lubina Dillen"

23 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Family-based exome sequencing identifies RBM45 as a possible candidate gene for frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Neurobiol Dis 2021 Aug 9;156:105421. Epub 2021 Jun 9.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases, VIB Center for Molecular Neurology, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium; Institute Born-Bunge, Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

Neurodegenerative disorders like frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are pathologically characterized by toxic protein deposition in the cytoplasm or nucleus of affected neurons and glial cells. Many of these aggregated proteins belong to the class of RNA binding proteins (RBP), and, when mutated, account for a significant subset of familial ALS and FTD cases. Here, we present first genetic evidence for the RBP gene RBM45 in the FTD-ALS spectrum. RBM45 shows many parallels with other FTD-ALS associated genes and proteins. Multiple lines of evidence have demonstrated that RBM45 is an RBP that, upon mutation, redistributes to the cytoplasm where it co-aggregates with other RBPs into cytoplasmic stress granules (SG), evolving to persistent toxic TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions. Exome sequencing in two affected first cousins of a heavily affected early-onset dementia family listed a number of candidate genes. The gene with the highest pathogenicity score was the RBP gene RBM45. In the family, the RBM45 Arg183* nonsense mutation co-segregated in both affected cousins. Validation in an unrelated patient (n = 548) / control (n = 734) cohort identified an additional RBM45 Arg183* carrier with bvFTD on a shared 4 Mb haplotype. Transcript and protein expression analysis demonstrated loss of nuclear RBM45, suggestive of a loss-of-function disease mechanism. Further, two more ultra-rare VUS, one in the nuclear localization signal (NLS, p.Lys456Arg) in an ALS patient and one in the intrinsically disordered homo-oligomer assembly (HOA) domain (p.Arg314Gln) in a patient with nfvPPA were detected. Our findings suggest that the pathomechanisms linking RBM45 with FTD and ALS may be related to its loss of nuclear function as a mediator of mRNA splicing, cytoplasmic retention or its inability to form homo-oligomers, leading to aggregate formation with trapping of other RBPs including TDP-43, which may accumulate into persisted TDP-43 inclusions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2021.105421DOI Listing
August 2021

Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Other Proteinopathies in Comorbidity.

Front Neurol 2020 30;11:596108. Epub 2020 Nov 30.

Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and Thomayer Hospital, Prague, Czechia.

Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is the most common type of a group of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (prion diseases). The etiology of the sporadic form of CJD is still unclear. sCJD can occur in combination with other neurodegenerative diseases, which further complicates the diagnosis. Alzheimer's disease (AD), e.g., is often seen in conjunction with sCJD. In this study, we performed a systematic analysis of 15 genes related to the most important neurodegenerative diseases - AD, frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, prion disease, and Parkinson's disease - in a cohort of sCJD and sCJD in comorbidity with AD and primary age-related proteinopathy (PART). A total of 30 neuropathologically verified cases of sCJD with and without additional proteinopathies were included in the study. In addition, we compared microtubule-associated protein tau haplotypes between sCJD patients and patients with sCJD and PART or sCJD and AD. Then we studied the interaction between the Apolipoprotein E gene ( and in sCJD patients. We did not find any causal mutations in the neurodegenerative disease genes. We did detect a p.E318G missense variant of uncertain significance (VUS) in in three patients. In , we also found a previously described non-pathogenic insertion (p.P84_Q91Q). Our pilot study failed to find any critical differences between pure sCJD and sCJD in conjunction with other comorbid neurodegenerative diseases. Further investigations are needed to better understand this phenomenon.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.596108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7735378PMC
November 2020

No association of CpG SNP rs9357140 with onset age in Belgian C9orf72 repeat expansion carriers.

Neurobiol Aging 2021 01 15;97:145.e1-145.e4. Epub 2020 Aug 15.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group, Center for Molecular Neurology, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium; Laboratory of Neurogenetics, Institute Born-Bunge, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

We investigated the impact of the recently described chromosome 6 open reading frame 10 (C6orf10)/LOC101929163 locus as age-at-onset modifier in an extended cohort of Belgian chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72) GC repeat expansion carriers. We genotyped the tagging CpG single-nucleotide polymorphism rs9357140 in 224 confirmed C9orf72 repeat expansion carriers, 102 index cases and 122 relatives, and tested association with onset age. The C9orf72 repeat expansion cohort consisted of 131 symptomatic carriers, that is, 78 with dementia only, 13 with frontotemporal dementia (FTD)-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and 40 ALS only, and 93 presymptomatic carriers. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis failed to identify significant association (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.15, p = 0.3). We further extended our analysis to a Belgian cohort of unrelated, mutation-negative FTD index patients (n = 230), but also found no association (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.96, p = 0.3). Overall, our findings suggest that in the Belgian cohort, the C6orf10/LOC101929163 locus cannot explain the marked variability in age at onset, and other genetic or environmental modifiers must drive the clinical heterogeneity observed among C9orf72 repeat expansion carriers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.07.021DOI Listing
January 2021

No supportive evidence for TIA1 gene mutations in a European cohort of ALS-FTD spectrum patients.

Neurobiol Aging 2018 09 23;69:293.e9-293.e11. Epub 2018 May 23.

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain.

We evaluated the genetic contribution of the T cell-restricted intracellular antigen-1 gene (TIA1) in a European cohort of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. Exonic resequencing of TIA1 in 1120 patients (693 FTD, 341 ALS, 86 FTD-ALS) and 1039 controls identified in total 5 rare heterozygous missense variants, affecting the TIA1 low-complexity domain (LCD). Only 1 missense variant, p.Met290Thr, identified in a familial FTD patient with disease onset at 64 years, was absent from controls yet received a combined annotation-dependent depletion score of 11.42. By contrast, 3 of the 4 variants also detected in unaffected controls, p.Val294Glu, p.Gln318Arg, and p.Ala381Thr, had combined annotation-dependent depletion scores greater than 20. Our findings in a large European patient-control series indicate that variants in TIA1 are not a common cause of ALS and FTD. The observation of recurring TIA1 missense variants in unaffected individuals lead us to conclude that the exact genetic contribution of TIA1 to ALS and FTD pathogenesis remains to be further elucidated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.05.005DOI Listing
September 2018

Rare nonsynonymous variants in SORT1 are associated with increased risk for frontotemporal dementia.

Neurobiol Aging 2018 06 17;66:181.e3-181.e10. Epub 2018 Feb 17.

Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève et Université de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland; IRCCS Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy.

We investigated the genetic role of sortilin (SORT1) in frontotemporal dementia (FTD). SORT1 is the neuronal receptor for granulin, encoded by the progranulin gene (GRN), a major causal gene for inherited FTD. In Belgian cohorts of 636 FTD patients and 1066 unaffected control individuals, we identified 5 patient-only nonsynonymous rare variants in SORT1. Rare variant burden analysis showed a significant increase in rare coding variants in patients compared to control individuals (p = 0.04), particularly in the β-propeller domain (p = 0.04), with 2 rare variants located in the predicted binding site for GRN (p = 0.001). We extended these observations by analyzing 3 independent patient/control cohorts sampled in Spain, Italy, and Portugal by partners of the European Early-Onset Dementia Consortium, together with 1155 FTD patients and 1161 control persons. An additional 7 patient-only nonsynonymous variants were observed in SORT1 in European patients. Meta-analysis of the rare nonsynonymous variants in the Belgian and European patient/control cohorts revealed a significant enrichment in FTD patients (p = 0.006), establishing SORT1 as a genetic risk factor for FTD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2018.02.011DOI Listing
June 2018

Common and rare TBK1 variants in early-onset Alzheimer disease in a European cohort.

Neurobiol Aging 2018 02 25;62:245.e1-245.e7. Epub 2017 Oct 25.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases group, VIB Center for Molecular Neurology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium; Institute Born-Bunge, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) loss-of-function (LoF) mutations are known to cause frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often combined with memory deficits early in the disease course. We performed targeted resequencing of TBK1 in 1253 early onset Alzheimer's disease (EOAD) patients from 8 European countries to investigate whether pathogenic TBK1 mutations are enriched among patients with clinical diagnosis of EOAD. Variant frequencies were compared against 2117 origin-matched controls. We identified only 1 LoF mutation (p.Thr79del) in a patient clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and a positive family history of ALS. We did not observe enrichment of rare variants in EOAD patients compared to controls, nor of rare variants affecting NFκB induction. Of 3 common coding variants, rs7486100 showed evidence of association (OR 1.46 [95% CI 1.13-1.9]; p-value 0.01). Homozygous carriers of the risk allele showed reduced expression of TBK1 (p-value 0.03). Our findings are not indicative of a significant role for TBK1 mutations in EOAD. The association between common variants in TBK1, disease risk and reduced TBK1 expression warrants follow-up in FTD/ALS cohorts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.10.012DOI Listing
February 2018

NEK1 genetic variability in a Belgian cohort of ALS and ALS-FTD patients.

Neurobiol Aging 2018 01 31;61:255.e1-255.e7. Epub 2017 Aug 31.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group, Center for Molecular Neurology, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium; Laboratory of Neurogenetics, Institute Born-Bunge, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

We evaluated the genetic impact of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) risk gene never in mitosis gene a-related kinase 1 (NEK1) in a Belgian cohort of 278 patients with ALS (n = 245) or ALS with frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD, n = 33) and 609 control individuals. We identified 2 ALS patients carrying a loss-of-function (LOF) mutation, p.Leu854Tyrfs*2 and p.Tyr871Valfs*17, that was absent in the control group. A third LOF variant p.Ser1036* was present in 2 sibs with familial ALS but also in an unrelated control person. Missense variants were common in both patients (3.6%) and controls (3.0%). The missense variant, p.Arg261His, which was previously associated with ALS risk, was detected with a minor allele frequency of 0.90% in patients compared to 0.33% in controls. Taken together, NEK1 LOF variants accounted for 1.1% of patients, although interpretation of pathogenicity and penetrance is complicated by the observation of occasional LOF variants in unaffected individuals (0.16%). Furthermore, enrichment of additional ALS gene mutations was observed in NEK1 carriers, suggestive of a "second hit" model were NEK1 variants may modify disease presentation of driving mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.08.021DOI Listing
January 2018

Deleterious ABCA7 mutations and transcript rescue mechanisms in early onset Alzheimer's disease.

Acta Neuropathol 2017 Sep 27;134(3):475-487. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Premature termination codon (PTC) mutations in the ATP-Binding Cassette, Sub-Family A, Member 7 gene (ABCA7) have recently been identified as intermediate-to-high penetrant risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD). High variability, however, is observed in downstream ABCA7 mRNA and protein expression, disease penetrance, and onset age, indicative of unknown modifying factors. Here, we investigated the prevalence and disease penetrance of ABCA7 PTC mutations in a large early onset AD (EOAD)-control cohort, and examined the effect on transcript level with comprehensive third-generation long-read sequencing. We characterized the ABCA7 coding sequence with next-generation sequencing in 928 EOAD patients and 980 matched control individuals. With MetaSKAT rare variant association analysis, we observed a fivefold enrichment (p = 0.0004) of PTC mutations in EOAD patients (3%) versus controls (0.6%). Ten novel PTC mutations were only observed in patients, and PTC mutation carriers in general had an increased familial AD load. In addition, we observed nominal risk reducing trends for three common coding variants. Seven PTC mutations were further analyzed using targeted long-read cDNA sequencing on an Oxford Nanopore MinION platform. PTC-containing transcripts for each investigated PTC mutation were observed at varying proportion (5-41% of the total read count), implying incomplete nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). Furthermore, we distinguished and phased several previously unknown alternative splicing events (up to 30% of transcripts). In conjunction with PTC mutations, several of these novel ABCA7 isoforms have the potential to rescue deleterious PTC effects. In conclusion, ABCA7 PTC mutations play a substantial role in EOAD, warranting genetic screening of ABCA7 in genetically unexplained patients. Long-read cDNA sequencing revealed both varying degrees of NMD and transcript-modifying events, which may influence ABCA7 dosage, disease severity, and may create opportunities for therapeutic interventions in AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-017-1714-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5563332PMC
September 2017

TBK1 Mutation Spectrum in an Extended European Patient Cohort with Frontotemporal Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Hum Mutat 2017 03 19;38(3):297-309. Epub 2017 Jan 19.

Hospital Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal.

We investigated the mutation spectrum of the TANK-Binding Kinase 1 (TBK1) gene and its associated phenotypic spectrum by exonic resequencing of TBK1 in a cohort of 2,538 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or FTD plus ALS, ascertained within the European Early-Onset Dementia Consortium. We assessed pathogenicity of predicted protein-truncating mutations by measuring loss of RNA expression. Functional effect of in-frame amino acid deletions and missense mutations was further explored in vivo on protein level and in vitro by an NFκB-induced luciferase reporter assay and measuring phosphorylated TBK1. The protein-truncating mutations led to the loss of transcript through nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. For the in-frame amino acid deletions, we demonstrated loss of TBK1 or phosphorylated TBK1 protein. An important fraction of the missense mutations compromised NFκB activation indicating that at least some functions of TBK1 are lost. Although missense mutations were also present in controls, over three times more mutations affecting TBK1 functioning were found in the mutation fraction observed in patients only, suggesting high-risk alleles (P = 0.03). Total mutation frequency for confirmed TBK1 LoF mutations in the European cohort was 0.7%, with frequencies in the clinical subgroups of 0.4% in FTD, 1.3% in ALS, and 3.6% in FTD-ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.23161DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5324646PMC
March 2017

Mutated CTSF in adult-onset neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis and FTD.

Neurol Genet 2016 Oct 16;2(5):e102. Epub 2016 Sep 16.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group (J.v.d.Z., S.V.M., L.D., F.P., A.S., C.V.B.), Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp; Institute Born-Bunge (J.v.d.Z., S.V.M., L.D., F.P., S.E., C.C.-D.G., A.S., P.C., J.-J.M., C.V.B.), CLIPS, Computational Linguistics and Psycholinguistics (J. Verhoeven), University of Antwerp; Department of Neurology and Memory Clinic (P.M., R.C., S.V.M., S.E.), ZNA Middelheim and Hoge Beuken, Antwerp; Clinical and Experimental Neurolinguistics (P.M., T.D.), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; Department of Language and Communication Science (J. Verhoeven), City University, London, UK; Department of Neurology (A.S.), University Hospital Ghent and University of Ghent; Department of Neurology (S.V.M., P.C.), Antwerp University Hospital; and Department of Neurology (J. Versijpt), University Hospital Brussels, Belgium.

Objective: To investigate the molecular basis of a Belgian family with autosomal recessive adult-onset neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (ANCL or Kufs disease [KD]) with pronounced frontal lobe involvement and to expand the findings to a cohort of unrelated Belgian patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

Methods: Genetic screening in the ANCL family and FTD cohort (n = 461) was performed using exome sequencing and targeted massive parallel resequencing.

Results: We identified a homozygous mutation (p.Ile404Thr) in the Cathepsin F (CTSF) gene cosegregating in the ANCL family. No other mutations were found that could explain the disease in this family. All 4 affected sibs developed motor symptoms and early-onset dementia with prominent frontal features. Two of them evolved to akinetic mutism. Disease presentation showed marked phenotypic variation with the onset ranging from 26 to 50 years. Myoclonic epilepsy in one of the sibs was suggestive for KD type A, while epilepsy was not present in the other sibs who presented with clinical features of KD type B. In a Belgian cohort of unrelated patients with FTD, the same heterozygous p.Arg245His mutation was identified in 2 patients who shared a common haplotype.

Conclusions: A homozygous CTSF mutation was identified in a recessive ANCL pedigree. In contrast to the previous associations of CTSF with KD type B, our findings suggest that CTSF genetic testing should also be considered in patients with KD type A as well as in early-onset dementia with prominent frontal lobe and motor symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXG.0000000000000102DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027801PMC
October 2016

A comprehensive study of the genetic impact of rare variants in SORL1 in European early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Acta Neuropathol 2016 08 30;132(2):213-224. Epub 2016 Mar 30.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group, Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, University of Antwerp, CDE Universiteitsplein 1, 2610, Antwerp, Belgium.

The sortilin-related receptor 1 (SORL1) gene has been associated with increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Rare genetic variants in the SORL1 gene have also been implicated in autosomal dominant early-onset AD (EOAD). Here we report a large-scale investigation of the contribution of genetic variability in SORL1 to EOAD in a European EOAD cohort. We performed massive parallel amplicon-based re-sequencing of the full coding region of SORL1 in 1255 EOAD patients and 1938 age- and origin-matched control individuals in the context of the European Early-Onset Dementia (EOD) consortium, originating from Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Germany, and Czech Republic. We identified six frameshift variants and two nonsense variants that were exclusively present in patients. These mutations are predicted to result in haploinsufficiency through nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, which could be confirmed experimentally for SORL1 p.Gly447Argfs*22 observed in a Belgian EOAD patient. We observed a 1.5-fold enrichment of rare non-synonymous variants in patients (carrier frequency 8.8 %; SkatOMeta p value 0.0001). Of the 84 non-synonymous rare variants detected in the full patient/control cohort, 36 were only detected in patients. Our findings underscore a role of rare SORL1 variants in EOAD, but also show a non-negligible frequency of these variants in healthy individuals, necessitating the need for pathogenicity assays. Premature stop codons due to frameshift and nonsense variants, have so far exclusively been found in patients, and their predicted mode of action corresponds with evidence from in vitro functional studies of SORL1 in AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-016-1566-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4947104PMC
August 2016

Investigating the role of filamin C in Belgian patients with frontotemporal dementia linked to GRN deficiency in FTLD-TDP brains.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2015 Nov 10;3:68. Epub 2015 Nov 10.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases group, VIB Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Antwerp - CDE, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610, Antwerp, Belgium.

TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) inclusions are pathological hallmarks of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Loss of TDP-43 in zebrafish engenders a severe muscle and vascular phenotype with a concomitant elevation of filamin C (FLNC) levels, an observation confirmed in the frontal cortex of FTLD-TDP patients. Here, we aimed to further assess the contribution of FLNC to frontotemporal dementia (FTD) etiology. We conducted a mutational screening of FLNC in a cohort of 529 unrelated Belgian FTD and FTD-ALS patients, and a control cohort of 920 unrelated and age-matched individuals. Additionally we performed an in-depth characterization of FLNC expression levels in FTD patients and a murine FTD model.In total 68 missense variants were identified of which 19 (MAF < 1%) were patient-only. Gene burden analysis demonstrated a significant association between the presence of rare variants in FLNC and disease (P = 0.0349, RR = 1.46 [95% CI 1.03-2.07]). Furthermore, elevated FLNC expression levels, observed previously in FTLD-TDP patients, were mainly attributable to FTD patients with the progranulin (GRN) p.0(IVS1 + 5G > C) loss-of-function mutation. Increased FLNC levels were, to a lesser extent, also identified in a FLNC p.V831I variant carrier and in FTD patients with the p.R159H mutation in valosin-containing protein (VCP). The GRN-associated increase of FLNC was confirmed in the frontal cortex of aged Grn knockout mice starting at 16-18 months of age. Combined quantitative proteomic and bioinformatic analyses of the frontal cortex of FTD patients possessing elevated FLNC levels, identified multiple altered protein factors involved in accelerated aging, neurodegeneration and synaptogenesis.Our findings further support the involvement of aberrant FLNC expression levels in FTD pathogenesis. Identification of increased FLNC levels in aged Grn mice and impaired pathways related to aging and neurodegeneration, implies a potential role for FLNC in mediating or accelerating the aging process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-015-0246-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4641381PMC
November 2015

Rare Variants in PLD3 Do Not Affect Risk for Early-Onset Alzheimer Disease in a European Consortium Cohort.

Hum Mutat 2015 Dec 14;36(12):1226-35. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

Faculty of Medicine and Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.

Rare variants in the phospholipase D3 gene (PLD3) were associated with increased risk for late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD). We identified a missense mutation in PLD3 in whole-genome sequence data of a patient with autopsy confirmed Alzheimer disease (AD) and onset age of 50 years. Subsequently, we sequenced PLD3 in a Belgian early-onset Alzheimer disease (EOAD) patient (N = 261) and control (N = 319) cohort, as well as in European EOAD patients (N = 946) and control individuals (N = 1,209) ascertained in different European countries. Overall, we identified 22 rare variants with a minor allele frequency <1%, 20 missense and two splicing mutations. Burden analysis did not provide significant evidence for an enrichment of rare PLD3 variants in EOAD patients in any of the patient/control cohorts. Also, meta-analysis of the PLD3 data, including a published dataset of a German EOAD cohort, was not significant (P = 0.43; OR = 1.53, 95% CI 0.60-3.31). Consequently, our data do not support a role for PLD3 rare variants in the genetic etiology of EOAD in European EOAD patients. Our data corroborate the negative replication data obtained in LOAD studies and therefore a genetic role of PLD3 in AD remains to be demonstrated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.22908DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5057316PMC
December 2015

Genetic variability in SQSTM1 and risk of early-onset Alzheimer dementia: a European early-onset dementia consortium study.

Neurobiol Aging 2015 May 19;36(5):2005.e15-22. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain; Department of Neurology, IIB Sant Pau, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Meta-analysis of existing genome-wide association studies on Alzheimer's disease (AD) showed subgenome-wide association of an intronic variant in the sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1) gene with AD. We performed targeted resequencing of SQSTM1 in Flanders-Belgian AD patients selected to be enriched for a genetic background (n = 435) and geographically matched nonaffected individuals (n = 872) to investigate the role of both common and rare SQSTM1 variants. Results were extended to the European early-onset dementia cohorts (926 early-onset Alzheimer's disease [EOAD] patients and 1476 nonaffected individuals). Of the 61 detected exonic variants in SQSTM1, the majority were rare (n = 57). Rare variant (minor allele frequency <0.01) burden analysis did not reveal an increased frequency of rare variants in EOAD patients in any of the separate study populations nor when meta-analyzing all cohorts. Common variants p.D292= and p.R312= showed nominal association with AD (odds ratiop.D292= = 1.11 [95% confidence interval = 1-1.22], p = 0.04), only when including the Flanders-Belgian cohort in the meta-analysis. We cannot exclude a role of SQSTM1 genetic variability in late-onset AD, but our data indicate that SQSTM1 does not play a major role in the etiology of EOAD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.02.014DOI Listing
May 2015

Rare mutations in SQSTM1 modify susceptibility to frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

Acta Neuropathol 2014 Sep 5;128(3):397-410. Epub 2014 Jun 5.

Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium.

Mutations in the gene coding for Sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1) have been genetically associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Paget disease of bone. In the present study, we analyzed the SQSTM1 coding sequence for mutations in an extended cohort of 1,808 patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), ascertained within the European Early-Onset Dementia consortium. As control dataset, we sequenced 1,625 European control individuals and analyzed whole-exome sequence data of 2,274 German individuals (total n = 3,899). Association of rare SQSTM1 mutations was calculated in a meta-analysis of 4,332 FTLD and 10,240 control alleles. We identified 25 coding variants in FTLD patients of which 10 have not been described. Fifteen mutations were absent in the control individuals (carrier frequency <0.00026) whilst the others were rare in both patients and control individuals. When pooling all variants with a minor allele frequency <0.01, an overall frequency of 3.2 % was calculated in patients. Rare variant association analysis between patients and controls showed no difference over the whole protein, but suggested that rare mutations clustering in the UBA domain of SQSTM1 may influence disease susceptibility by doubling the risk for FTLD (RR = 2.18 [95 % CI 1.24-3.85]; corrected p value = 0.042). Detailed histopathology demonstrated that mutations in SQSTM1 associate with widespread neuronal and glial phospho-TDP-43 pathology. With this study, we provide further evidence for a putative role of rare mutations in SQSTM1 in the genetic etiology of FTLD and showed that, comparable to other FTLD/ALS genes, SQSTM1 mutations are associated with TDP-43 pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-014-1298-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4131163PMC
September 2014

Plasma phosphorylated TDP-43 levels are elevated in patients with frontotemporal dementia carrying a C9orf72 repeat expansion or a GRN mutation.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2014 Jun 4;85(6):684-91. Epub 2013 Dec 4.

Neurology Department, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, , Barcelona, Spain.

Objectives: About a half of patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) has deposition of phosphorylated TDP-43 protein (pTDP-43) in the brain. We studied pTDP-43 and total TDP-43 levels in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in healthy controls and patients with FTD, including those carrying a repeat expansion in the C9orf72 gene or a mutation in GRN.

Methods: We included 88 plasma samples of 10 C9orf72 expansion carriers, 5 GRN mutation carriers, 51 patients with FTD without a known mutation and 22 healthy controls. We also obtained CSF samples from 25 patients with FTD (2 with C9orf72 expansion and 3 with a GRN mutation) and 22 healthy controls. We measured pTDP-43 and total TDP-43 levels using sandwich ELISA.

Results: Patients carrying the C9orf72 repeat expansion or a GRN mutation had significantly higher plasma and CSF levels of pTDP-43 than the remaining patients with FTD (p<0.05). In addition, plasma pTDP-43 levels were higher in patients with FTD carrying a C9orf72 expansion or GRN mutations than in healthy controls (p<0.05).

Conclusions: Our study shows that plasma pTDP-43 levels may be increased in some genetic forms of FTD known to be associated with TDP-43 proteinopathies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jnnp-2013-305972DOI Listing
June 2014

C9orf72 G4C2 repeat expansions in Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment.

Neurobiol Aging 2013 Jun 24;34(6):1712.e1-7. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium.

C9orf72 G4C2 repeat expansion is a major cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Its role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is less clear. We assessed the prevalence of G4C2 pathogenic repeat expansions in Flanders-Belgian patients with clinical AD or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In addition, we studied the effect of non-pathogenic G4C2 repeat length variability on susceptibility to AD, and on AD cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker levels. A pathogenic repeat expansion was identified in 5 of 1217 AD patients (frequency <1%). No pathogenic expansions were observed in patients with MCI (n = 200) or control individuals (n = 1119). Nonpathogenic repeat length variability was not associated with AD, risk of conversion to AD in MCI individuals, or CSF biomarker levels. We conclude that pathogenic C9orf72 G4C2 repeat expansions can be detected in clinical AD patients and could act as a contributor to AD pathogenesis. Non-pathogenic repeat length variability did not affect risk of AD or MCI, nor AD biomarker levels in CSF, indicating that C9orf72 is not a direct AD risk factor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.12.019DOI Listing
June 2013

Distinct clinical characteristics of C9orf72 expansion carriers compared with GRN, MAPT, and nonmutation carriers in a Flanders-Belgian FTLD cohort.

JAMA Neurol 2013 Mar;70(3):365-73

VIB–Department of Molecular Genetics, Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group, University of Antwerp–CDE, Universiteitsplein 1, Antwerp, Belgium.

Objective: To characterize patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with a repeat expansion mutation in the gene C9orf72, and to determine whether there are differences in the clinical presentation compared with FTLD carriers of a mutation in GRN or MAPT or with patients with FTLD without mutation.

Design: Patient series.

Setting: Dementia clinics in Flanders, Belgium.

Patients: Two hundred seventy-five genetically and phenotypically thoroughly characterized patients with FTLD.

Main Outcome Measures: Clinical and demographic characteristics of 26 C9orf72 expansion carriers compared with patients with a GRN or MAPT mutation, as well as patients with familial and sporadic FTLD without mutation.

Results: C9orf72 expansion carriers developed FTLD at an early age (average, 55.3 years; range, 42-69 years), significantly earlier than in GRN mutation carriers or patients with FTLD without mutation. Mean survival (6.2 years; range, 1.5-17.0 years) was similar to other patient groups. Most developed behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (85%), with disinhibited behavior as the prominent feature. Concomitant amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a strong distinguishing feature for C9orf72 -associated FTLD. However, in most patients (73%), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis symptoms were absent. Compared with C9orf72 expansion carriers, nonfluent aphasia and limb apraxia were significantly more common in GRN mutation carriers.

Conclusions: C9orf72 -associated FTLD most often presents with early-onset behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia with disinhibition as the prominent feature, with or without amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Based on the observed genotype-phenotype correlations between the different FTLD syndromes and different genetic causes, we propose a decision tree to guide clinical genetic testing in patients clinically diagnosed as having FTLD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/2013.jamaneurol.181DOI Listing
March 2013

Explorative genetic study of UBQLN2 and PFN1 in an extended Flanders-Belgian cohort of frontotemporal lobar degeneration patients.

Neurobiol Aging 2013 Jun 9;34(6):1711.e1-5. Epub 2013 Jan 9.

Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium.

UBQLN2 and PFN1 were recently associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We investigated a role for these ALS genes in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). We screened 328 FTLD, 17 FTLD-ALS, and 157 ALS patients. Patients originated from Flanders-Belgium except for 26 Bulgarian ALS patients. The frequency of UBQLN2 and PFN1 genetic variants in the FTLD patients was low at 0.30% and 0.91% respectively. Moreover, the biological relevance to disease of the variants was questionable. In UBQLN2, we identified p.S346C outside of the PXX domain in 1 FTLD patient. Yet, a closely located serine substitution, p.S340I, was observed in a neurologically healthy control individual. In PFN1, we observed the previously reported p.E117G mutation in 3 FTLD patients and in 3 control individuals. In the ALS patient cohort, we detected UBQLN2 variants in 1.27% of patients. These involved 2 novel UBQLN2 missense mutations, p.S400G and p.P440L, that were also present in unaffected relatives (i.e., the p.S400G carrier's son [70 years] and daughter [65 years]) and the p.P440L carrier's mother (67 years). No mutations were observed in PFN1. In summary, we conclude that genetic variations in UBQLN2 and PFN1 in a predominantly Flanders-Belgian cohort of FTLD and ALS patients are extremely rare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.12.007DOI Listing
June 2013

A pan-European study of the C9orf72 repeat associated with FTLD: geographic prevalence, genomic instability, and intermediate repeats.

Hum Mutat 2013 Feb 4;34(2):363-73. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium.

We assessed the geographical distribution of C9orf72 G(4) C(2) expansions in a pan-European frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) cohort (n = 1,205), ascertained by the European Early-Onset Dementia (EOD) consortium. Next, we performed a meta-analysis of our data and that of other European studies, together 2,668 patients from 15 Western European countries. The frequency of the C9orf72 expansions in Western Europe was 9.98% in overall FTLD, with 18.52% in familial, and 6.26% in sporadic FTLD patients. Outliers were Finland and Sweden with overall frequencies of respectively 29.33% and 20.73%, but also Spain with 25.49%. In contrast, prevalence in Germany was limited to 4.82%. In addition, we studied the role of intermediate repeats (7-24 repeat units), which are strongly correlated with the risk haplotype, on disease and C9orf72 expression. In vitro reporter gene expression studies demonstrated significantly decreased transcriptional activity of C9orf72 with increasing number of normal repeat units, indicating that intermediate repeats might act as predisposing alleles and in favor of the loss-of-function disease mechanism. Further, we observed a significantly increased frequency of short indels in the GC-rich low complexity sequence adjacent to the G(4) C(2) repeat in C9orf72 expansion carriers (P < 0.001) with the most common indel creating one long contiguous imperfect G(4) C(2) repeat, which is likely more prone to replication slippage and pathological expansion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/humu.22244DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3638346PMC
February 2013

Rapidly progressive frontotemporal dementia and bulbar amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Portuguese patients with C9orf72 mutation.

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener 2013 Jan 29;14(1):70-2. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Faculty of Medicine and Instituto de Medicina Molecular, University of Lisbon, Portugal.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) form a spectrum of clinically, pathologically, and genetically overlapping disorders, as confirmed by the recent report that it can be caused by a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9orf72. One hundred and fourteen Portuguese cases diagnosed as probable or possible familial FTLD, as part of the EOD consortium study, and nine further Portuguese cases with familial ALS were tested for the presence of this mutation. Results showed that six Portuguese patients from unrelated families had the mutation, five (4.4%) patients from the FTLD group and one (11.1%) from the ALS sample. Of these, three patients had FTLD and rapidly progressive bulbar ALS. Electromyography confirmed diffuse loss of motor units with marked bulbar involvement. In conclusion, the cases now reported showed a very rapid progression, suggesting bulbar ALS could be particularly common and aggressive in patients with the C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion, in the Portuguese population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/17482968.2012.690418DOI Listing
January 2013

A C9orf72 promoter repeat expansion in a Flanders-Belgian cohort with disorders of the frontotemporal lobar degeneration-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis spectrum: a gene identification study.

Lancet Neurol 2012 Jan 7;11(1):54-65. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are extremes of a clinically, pathologically, and genetically overlapping disease spectrum. A locus on chromosome 9p21 has been associated with both disorders, and we aimed to identify the causal gene within this region.

Methods: We studied 305 patients with FTLD, 137 with ALS, and 23 with concomitant FTLD and ALS (FTLD-ALS) and 856 controls from Flanders (Belgium); patients were identified from a hospital-based cohort and were negative for mutations in known FTLD and ALS genes. We also examined the family of one patient with FTLD-ALS previously linked to 9p21 (family DR14). We analysed 130 kbp at 9p21 in association and segregation studies, genomic sequencing, repeat genotyping, and expression studies to identify the causal mutation. We compared genotype-phenotype correlations between mutation carriers and non-carriers.

Findings: In the patient-control cohort, the single-nucleotide polymorphism rs28140707 within the 130 kbp region of 9p21 was associated with disease (odds ratio [OR] 2·6, 95% CI 1·5-4·7; p=0·001). A GGGGCC repeat expansion in C9orf72 completely co-segregated with disease in family DR14. The association of rs28140707 with disease in the patient-control cohort was abolished when we excluded GGGGCC repeat expansion carriers. In patients with familial disease, six (86%) of seven with FTLD-ALS, seven (47%) of 15 with ALS, and 12 (16%) of 75 with FTLD had the repeat expansion. In patients without known familial disease, one (6%) of 16 with FTLD-ALS, six (5%) of 122 with ALS, and nine (4%) of 230 with FTLD had the repeat expansion. Mutation carriers primarily presented with classic ALS (10 of 11 individuals) or behavioural variant FTLD (14 of 15 individuals). Mean age at onset of FTLD was 55·3 years (SD 8·4) in 21 mutation carriers and 63·2 years (9·6) in 284 non-carriers (p=0·001); mean age at onset of ALS was 54·5 years (9·9) in 13 carriers and 60·4 years (11·4) in 124 non-carriers. Postmortem neuropathological analysis of the brains of three mutation carriers with FTLD showed a notably low TDP-43 load. In brain at postmortem, C9orf72 expression was reduced by nearly 50% in two carriers compared with nine controls (p=0·034). In familial patients, 14% of FTLD-ALS, 50% of ALS, and 62% of FTLD was not accounted for by known disease genes.

Interpretation: We identified a pathogenic GGGGCC repeat expansion in C9orf72 on chromosome 9p21, as recently also reported in two other studies. The GGGGCC repeat expansion is highly penetrant, explaining all of the contribution of chromosome 9p21 to FTLD and ALS in the Flanders-Belgian cohort. Decreased expression of C9orf72 in brain suggests haploinsufficiency as an underlying disease mechanism. Unidentified genes probably also contribute to the FTLD-ALS disease spectrum.

Funding: Full funding sources listed at end of paper (see Acknowledgments).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(11)70261-7DOI Listing
January 2012

Elimination of micronucleated cells by apoptosis after treatment with inhibitors of microtubules.

Mutagenesis 2002 Jul;17(4):337-44

Laboratory for Cell Genetics, Free University of Brussels, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.

Two major mechanisms responsible for chromosome segregation errors are non-disjunction and chromosome loss, both leading to aneuploidy. Previous studies in our laboratory showed the existence of thresholds for the induction of chromosome non-disjunction and chromosome loss and the induction of apoptosis by microtubule inhibitors. From a mechanistic point of view one can expect that apoptosis contributes to the elimination of cells with premutagenic/mutagenic lesions. If aneuploid cells were eliminated by the induction of apoptosis below the threshold concentrations for chromosome loss and non-disjunction, the defined thresholds would not be applicable to cells unable to undergo apoptosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether apoptosis was induced directly or indirectly as a response to aberrant chromosome segregation below the thresholds for the induction of chromosome loss and non-disjunction, as previously defined by us. Therefore, human lymphocytes were exposed in vitro to five concentrations of nocodazole and five concentrations of carbendazim representing the threshold concentrations for chromosome non-disjunction and chromosome loss, two concentrations below the lowest threshold and one concentration between the two threshold values. After 48 h exposure to the aneugens, induction of apoptosis was analysed by the annexin-V test. The frequencies of chromosome non-disjunction and chromosome loss were estimated in cytokinesis-blocked human lymphocytes in combination with FISH; this methodology was applied to whole cell cultures as well as to apoptotic and viable cell fractions obtained using magnetic annexin microbead cell sorting. Our results suggest that elimination of aneuploid cells does occur. However, the efficiency of disappearance of micronucleated cells is higher than for cells presenting chromosome non-disjunction. The correlation found between early apoptotic events and micronucleus formation could account, at least in part, for the specific elimination of aneuploid cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mutage/17.4.337DOI Listing
July 2002
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