Publications by authors named "Max Koppers"

23 Publications

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ER - lysosome contacts at a pre-axonal region regulate axonal lysosome availability.

Nat Commun 2021 07 23;12(1):4493. Epub 2021 Jul 23.

Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Biophysics. Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Neuronal function relies on careful coordination of organelle organization and transport. Kinesin-1 mediates transport of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and lysosomes into the axon and it is increasingly recognized that contacts between the ER and lysosomes influence organelle organization. However, it is unclear how organelle organization, inter-organelle communication and transport are linked and how this contributes to local organelle availability in neurons. Here, we show that somatic ER tubules are required for proper lysosome transport into the axon. Somatic ER tubule disruption causes accumulation of enlarged and less motile lysosomes at the soma. ER tubules regulate lysosome size and axonal translocation by promoting lysosome homo-fission. ER tubule - lysosome contacts often occur at a somatic pre-axonal region, where the kinesin-1-binding ER-protein P180 binds microtubules to promote kinesin-1-powered lysosome fission and subsequent axonal translocation. We propose that ER tubule - lysosome contacts at a pre-axonal region finely orchestrate axonal lysosome availability for proper neuronal function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24713-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8302662PMC
July 2021

Organelle distribution in neurons: Logistics behind polarized transport.

Curr Opin Cell Biol 2021 08 8;71:46-54. Epub 2021 Mar 8.

Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Biophysics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3584 CH, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

Highly polarized neurons need to carefully regulate the distribution of organelles and other cargoes into their two morphologically and functionally distinct domains, the somatodendritic and axonal compartments, to maintain proper neuron homeostasis. An outstanding question in the field is how organelles reach their correct destination. Long-range transport along microtubules, driven by motors, ensures a fast and controlled availability of organelles in axons and dendrites, but it remains largely unclear what rules govern their transport into the correct compartment. Here, we review the emerging concepts of polarized cargo trafficking in neurons, highlighting the role of microtubule organization, microtubule-associated proteins, and motor proteins and discuss compartment-specific inclusion and exclusion mechanisms as well as the regulation of correct coupling of cargoes to motor proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ceb.2021.02.004DOI Listing
August 2021

Complex Interactions Between Membrane-Bound Organelles, Biomolecular Condensates and the Cytoskeleton.

Front Cell Dev Biol 2020 21;8:618733. Epub 2020 Dec 21.

Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Biophysics, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Membrane-bound and membraneless organelles/biomolecular condensates ensure compartmentalization into functionally distinct units enabling proper organization of cellular processes. Membrane-bound organelles form dynamic contacts with each other to enable the exchange of molecules and to regulate organelle division and positioning in coordination with the cytoskeleton. Crosstalk between the cytoskeleton and dynamic membrane-bound organelles has more recently also been found to regulate cytoskeletal organization. Interestingly, recent work has revealed that, in addition, the cytoskeleton and membrane-bound organelles interact with cytoplasmic biomolecular condensates. The extent and relevance of these complex interactions are just beginning to emerge but may be important for cytoskeletal organization and organelle transport and remodeling. In this review, we highlight these emerging functions and emphasize the complex interplay of the cytoskeleton with these organelles. The crosstalk between membrane-bound organelles, biomolecular condensates and the cytoskeleton in highly polarized cells such as neurons could play essential roles in neuronal development, function and maintenance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2020.618733DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7779554PMC
December 2020

On-Site Ribosome Remodeling by Locally Synthesized Ribosomal Proteins in Axons.

Cell Rep 2019 12;29(11):3605-3619.e10

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK. Electronic address:

Ribosome assembly occurs mainly in the nucleolus, yet recent studies have revealed robust enrichment and translation of mRNAs encoding many ribosomal proteins (RPs) in axons, far away from neuronal cell bodies. Here, we report a physical and functional interaction between locally synthesized RPs and ribosomes in the axon. We show that axonal RP translation is regulated through a sequence motif, CUIC, that forms an RNA-loop structure in the region immediately upstream of the initiation codon. Using imaging and subcellular proteomics techniques, we show that RPs synthesized in axons join axonal ribosomes in a nucleolus-independent fashion. Inhibition of axonal CUIC-regulated RP translation decreases local translation activity and reduces axon branching in the developing brain, revealing the physiological relevance of axonal RP synthesis in vivo. These results suggest that axonal translation supplies cytoplasmic RPs to maintain/modify local ribosomal function far from the nucleolus in neurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.11.025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6915326PMC
December 2019

Receptor-specific interactome as a hub for rapid cue-induced selective translation in axons.

Elife 2019 11 20;8. Epub 2019 Nov 20.

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Extrinsic cues trigger the local translation of specific mRNAs in growing axons via cell surface receptors. The coupling of ribosomes to receptors has been proposed as a mechanism linking signals to local translation but it is not known how broadly this mechanism operates, nor whether it can selectively regulate mRNA translation. We report that receptor-ribosome coupling is employed by multiple guidance cue receptors and this interaction is mRNA-dependent. We find that different receptors associate with distinct sets of mRNAs and RNA-binding proteins. Cue stimulation of growing retinal ganglion cell axons induces rapid dissociation of ribosomes from receptors and the selective translation of receptor-specific mRNAs. Further, we show that receptor-ribosome dissociation and cue-induced selective translation are inhibited by co-exposure to translation-repressive cues, suggesting a novel mode of signal integration. Our findings reveal receptor-specific interactomes and suggest a generalizable model for cue-selective control of the local proteome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.48718DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6894925PMC
November 2019

Late Endosomes Act as mRNA Translation Platforms and Sustain Mitochondria in Axons.

Cell 2019 01 3;176(1-2):56-72.e15. Epub 2019 Jan 3.

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK. Electronic address:

Local translation regulates the axonal proteome, playing an important role in neuronal wiring and axon maintenance. How axonal mRNAs are localized to specific subcellular sites for translation, however, is not understood. Here we report that RNA granules associate with endosomes along the axons of retinal ganglion cells. RNA-bearing Rab7a late endosomes also associate with ribosomes, and real-time translation imaging reveals that they are sites of local protein synthesis. We show that RNA-bearing late endosomes often pause on mitochondria and that mRNAs encoding proteins for mitochondrial function are translated on Rab7a endosomes. Disruption of Rab7a function with Rab7a mutants, including those associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 2B neuropathy, markedly decreases axonal protein synthesis, impairs mitochondrial function, and compromises axonal viability. Our findings thus reveal that late endosomes interact with RNA granules, translation machinery, and mitochondria and suggest that they serve as sites for regulating the supply of nascent pro-survival proteins in axons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.11.030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6333918PMC
January 2019

Molecular control of local translation in axon development and maintenance.

Curr Opin Neurobiol 2018 08 14;51:86-94. Epub 2018 Mar 14.

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK. Electronic address:

The tips of axons are often far away from the cell soma where most proteins are synthesized. Recent work has revealed that axonal mRNA transport and localised translation are key regulatory mechanisms that allow these distant outposts of the cell to respond rapidly to extrinsic factors and maintain axonal homeostasis. Here, we review recent evidence pointing to an increasingly broad role for local protein synthesis in controlling axon shape, synaptogenesis and axon survival by regulating diverse cellular processes such as vesicle trafficking, cytoskeletal remodelling and mitochondrial integrity. We further highlight current research on the regulatory mechanisms that coordinate the localization and translation of functionally linked mRNAs in axons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2018.02.025DOI Listing
August 2018

Genome-wide association analyses identify new risk variants and the genetic architecture of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Nat Genet 2016 09 25;48(9):1043-8. Epub 2016 Jul 25.

Department of Molecular Genetics, Institute of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

To elucidate the genetic architecture of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and find associated loci, we assembled a custom imputation reference panel from whole-genome-sequenced patients with ALS and matched controls (n = 1,861). Through imputation and mixed-model association analysis in 12,577 cases and 23,475 controls, combined with 2,579 cases and 2,767 controls in an independent replication cohort, we fine-mapped a new risk locus on chromosome 21 and identified C21orf2 as a gene associated with ALS risk. In addition, we identified MOBP and SCFD1 as new associated risk loci. We established evidence of ALS being a complex genetic trait with a polygenic architecture. Furthermore, we estimated the SNP-based heritability at 8.5%, with a distinct and important role for low-frequency variants (frequency 1-10%). This study motivates the interrogation of larger samples with full genome coverage to identify rare causal variants that underpin ALS risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3622DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556360PMC
September 2016

Comparative interactomics analysis of different ALS-associated proteins identifies converging molecular pathways.

Acta Neuropathol 2016 08 10;132(2):175-196. Epub 2016 May 10.

Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurological disease with no effective treatment available. An increasing number of genetic causes of ALS are being identified, but how these genetic defects lead to motor neuron degeneration and to which extent they affect common cellular pathways remains incompletely understood. To address these questions, we performed an interactomic analysis to identify binding partners of wild-type (WT) and ALS-associated mutant versions of ATXN2, C9orf72, FUS, OPTN, TDP-43 and UBQLN2 in neuronal cells. This analysis identified several known but also many novel binding partners of these proteins. Interactomes of WT and mutant ALS proteins were very similar except for OPTN and UBQLN2, in which mutations caused loss or gain of protein interactions. Several of the identified interactomes showed a high degree of overlap: shared binding partners of ATXN2, FUS and TDP-43 had roles in RNA metabolism; OPTN- and UBQLN2-interacting proteins were related to protein degradation and protein transport, and C9orf72 interactors function in mitochondria. To confirm that this overlap is important for ALS pathogenesis, we studied fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), one of the common interactors of ATXN2, FUS and TDP-43, in more detail in in vitro and in vivo model systems for FUS ALS. FMRP localized to mutant FUS-containing aggregates in spinal motor neurons and bound endogenous FUS in a direct and RNA-sensitive manner. Furthermore, defects in synaptic FMRP mRNA target expression, neuromuscular junction integrity, and motor behavior caused by mutant FUS in zebrafish embryos, could be rescued by exogenous FMRP expression. Together, these results show that interactomics analysis can provide crucial insight into ALS disease mechanisms and they link FMRP to motor neuron dysfunction caused by FUS mutations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-016-1575-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4947123PMC
August 2016

C9orf72 ablation in mice does not cause motor neuron degeneration or motor deficits.

Ann Neurol 2015 Sep 3;78(3):426-38. Epub 2015 Jul 3.

Department of Translational Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Objective: How hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansions in C9ORF72 cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) remains poorly understood. Both gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms have been proposed. Evidence supporting these mechanisms in vivo is, however, incomplete. Here we determined the effect of C9orf72 loss-of-function in mice.

Methods: We generated and analyzed a conditional C9orf72 knockout mouse model. C9orf72(fl/fl) mice were crossed with Nestin-Cre mice to selectively remove C9orf72 from neurons and glial cells. Immunohistochemistry was performed to study motor neurons and neuromuscular integrity, as well as several pathological hallmarks of ALS, such as gliosis and TDP-43 mislocalization. In addition, motor function and survival were assessed.

Results: Neural-specific ablation of C9orf72 in conditional C9orf72 knockout mice resulted in significantly reduced body weight but did not induce motor neuron degeneration, defects in motor function, or altered survival.

Interpretation: Our data suggest that C9orf72 loss-of-function, by itself, is insufficient to cause motor neuron disease. These results may have important implications for the development of therapeutic strategies for C9orf72-associated ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.24453DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744979PMC
September 2015

C9orf72 and UNC13A are shared risk loci for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia: a genome-wide meta-analysis.

Ann Neurol 2014 Jul 27;76(1):120-33. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

Department of Neurology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Objective: Substantial clinical, pathological, and genetic overlap exists between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). TDP-43 inclusions have been found in both ALS and FTD cases (FTD-TDP). Recently, a repeat expansion in C9orf72 was identified as the causal variant in a proportion of ALS and FTD cases. We sought to identify additional evidence for a common genetic basis for the spectrum of ALS-FTD.

Methods: We used published genome-wide association studies data for 4,377 ALS patients and 13,017 controls, and 435 pathology-proven FTD-TDP cases and 1,414 controls for genotype imputation. Data were analyzed in a joint meta-analysis, by replicating topmost associated hits of one disease in the other, and by using a conservative rank products analysis, allocating equal weight to ALS and FTD-TDP sample sizes.

Results: Meta-analysis identified 19 genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in C9orf72 on chromosome 9p21.2 (lowest p = 2.6 × 10(-12) ) and 1 SNP in UNC13A on chromosome 19p13.11 (p = 1.0 × 10(-11) ) as shared susceptibility loci for ALS and FTD-TDP. Conditioning on the 9p21.2 genotype increased statistical significance at UNC13A. A third signal, on chromosome 8q24.13 at the SPG8 locus coding for strumpellin (p = 3.91 × 10(-7) ) was replicated in an independent cohort of 4,056 ALS patients and 3,958 controls (p = 0.026; combined analysis p = 1.01 × 10(-7) ).

Interpretation: We identified common genetic variants in C9orf72, but in addition in UNC13A that are shared between ALS and FTD. UNC13A provides a novel link between ALS and FTD-TDP, and identifies changes in neurotransmitter release and synaptic function as a converging mechanism in the pathogenesis of ALS and FTD-TDP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.24198DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137231PMC
July 2014

ALS-associated mutations in FUS disrupt the axonal distribution and function of SMN.

Hum Mol Genet 2013 Sep 15;22(18):3690-704. Epub 2013 May 15.

Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Mutations in the RNA binding protein fused in sarcoma/translated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Although ALS-linked mutations in FUS often lead to a cytosolic mislocalization of the protein, the pathogenic mechanisms underlying these mutations remain poorly understood. To gain insight into these mechanisms, we examined the biochemical, cell biological and functional properties of mutant FUS in neurons. Expression of different FUS mutants (R521C, R521H, P525L) in neurons caused axonal defects. A protein interaction screen performed to explain these phenotypes identified numerous FUS interactors including the spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) causing protein survival motor neuron (SMN). Biochemical experiments showed that FUS and SMN interact directly and endogenously, and that this interaction can be regulated by FUS mutations. Immunostaining revealed co-localization of mutant FUS aggregates and SMN in primary neurons. This redistribution of SMN to cytosolic FUS accumulations led to a decrease in axonal SMN. Finally, cell biological experiments showed that overexpression of SMN rescued the axonal defects induced by mutant FUS, suggesting that FUS mutations cause axonal defects through SMN. This study shows that neuronal aggregates formed by mutant FUS protein may aberrantly sequester SMN and concomitantly cause a reduction of SMN levels in the axon, leading to axonal defects. These data provide a functional link between ALS-linked FUS mutations, SMN and neuronal connectivity and support the idea that different motor neuron disorders such as SMA and ALS may be caused, in part, by defects in shared molecular pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddt222DOI Listing
September 2013

Protein aggregation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Acta Neuropathol 2013 Jun 15;125(6):777-94. Epub 2013 May 15.

Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the aggregation of ubiquitinated proteins in affected motor neurons. Recent studies have identified several new molecular constituents of ALS-linked cellular aggregates, including FUS, TDP-43, OPTN, UBQLN2 and the translational product of intronic repeats in the gene C9ORF72. Mutations in the genes encoding these proteins are found in a subgroup of ALS patients and segregate with disease in familial cases, indicating a causal relationship with disease pathogenesis. Furthermore, these proteins are often detected in aggregates of non-mutation carriers and those observed in other neurodegenerative disorders, supporting a widespread role in neuronal degeneration. The molecular characteristics and distribution of different types of protein aggregates in ALS can be linked to specific genetic alterations and shows a remarkable overlap hinting at a convergence of underlying cellular processes and pathological effects. Thus far, self-aggregating properties of prion-like domains, altered RNA granule formation and dysfunction of the protein quality control system have been suggested to contribute to protein aggregation in ALS. The precise pathological effects of protein aggregation remain largely unknown, but experimental evidence hints at both gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms. Here, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the molecular make-up, formation, and mechanism-of-action of protein aggregates in ALS. Further insight into protein aggregation will not only deepen our understanding of ALS pathogenesis but also may provide novel avenues for therapeutic intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-013-1125-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661910PMC
June 2013

Screening for rare variants in the coding region of ALS-associated genes at 9p21.2 and 19p13.3.

Neurobiol Aging 2013 May 8;34(5):1518.e5-7. Epub 2012 Nov 8.

Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a severe neurodegenerative disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, eventually resulting in death because of respiratory failure. Genetic variants are thought to predispose to the disease. A recent, large, genome-wide association study identified 2 loci that increase susceptibility to ALS. These 2 loci on chromosomes 9 and 19 consist of 4 genes: UNC13a, IFNK, MOBKL2b, and C9ORF72. A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the noncoding region of C9ORF72 was recently identified as the cause of chromosome 9-linked ALS-FTD (frontotemporal dementia). In this study, our aim was to determine whether the coding regions of these genes harbor rare, nonsynonymous variants that play a role in ALS pathogenesis. In DNA from 1019 sporadic ALS patients and 1103 control subjects of Dutch descent, we performed a mutation screening analysis in the coding region of these 4 genes by resequencing the exons. A total of 16 amino acid-changing rare variations were identified, 11 in UNC13a and 5 on chromosome 9. Some of these were unique to ALS, but were detected in a single patient. None of the genes showed significant enrichment of rare variants in the coding sequence. Rare variants in the coding region of UNC13a, IFNK, MOBKL2b, and C9ORF72 are unlikely to be a genetic cause of ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.09.018DOI Listing
May 2013

VAPB and C9orf72 mutations in 1 familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patient.

Neurobiol Aging 2012 Dec 9;33(12):2950.e1-4. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Department of Neurology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Previously, we have reported amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) families with multiple mutations in major ALS-associated genes. These findings provided evidence for an oligogenic basis of ALS. In our present study, we screened a cohort of 755 sporadic ALS patients, 111 familial ALS patients (97 families), and 765 control subjects of Dutch descent for mutations in vesicle-associated membrane protein B (VAPB). We have identified 1 novel VAPB mutation (p.V234I) in a familial ALS patient known to have a chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72) repeat expansion. This p.V234I mutation was absent in control subjects, located in a region with high evolutionary conservation, and predicted to have damaging effects. Taken together, these findings provide additional evidence for an oligogenic basis of ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.07.004DOI Listing
December 2012

Mutations in the profilin 1 gene cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Nature 2012 Aug;488(7412):499-503

Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder resulting from motor neuron death. Approximately 10% of cases are familial (FALS), typically with a dominant inheritance mode. Despite numerous advances in recent years, nearly 50% of FALS cases have unknown genetic aetiology. Here we show that mutations within the profilin 1 (PFN1) gene can cause FALS. PFN1 is crucial for the conversion of monomeric (G)-actin to filamentous (F)-actin. Exome sequencing of two large ALS families showed different mutations within the PFN1 gene. Further sequence analysis identified 4 mutations in 7 out of 274 FALS cases. Cells expressing PFN1 mutants contain ubiquitinated, insoluble aggregates that in many cases contain the ALS-associated protein TDP-43. PFN1 mutants also display decreased bound actin levels and can inhibit axon outgrowth. Furthermore, primary motor neurons expressing mutant PFN1 display smaller growth cones with a reduced F/G-actin ratio. These observations further document that cytoskeletal pathway alterations contribute to ALS pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11280DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575525PMC
August 2012

CGG-repeat expansion in FMR1 is not associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Neurobiol Aging 2012 Aug 15;33(8):1852.e1-3. Epub 2012 Apr 15.

Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Recently, repeat expansions in several genes have been shown to cause or be associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It has been demonstrated that an intronic hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is a major cause of both familial (approximately 40%) and sporadic (approximately 5%) ALS, as well as frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In addition, a CAG-repeat expansion in exon 1 of ATXN2, otherwise known to cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 2, has been identified as a major risk factor for sporadic ALS. Intermediate repeat expansions in the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene (55-200 repeats) are known to cause fragile X-associated premature ovarian insufficiency [(FX)POI; female carriers] or fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS; male carriers) by CGG-mediated RNA toxicity. The present investigation involves screening FMR1 repeat length in 742 sporadic ALS patients and 792 matched controls. Our conclusion is that FMR1 repeat expansions are not associated with ALS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.03.007DOI Listing
August 2012

NIPA1 polyalanine repeat expansions are associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Hum Mol Genet 2012 Jun 28;21(11):2497-502. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan , Utrecht, The Netherlands

Mutations in NIPA1 cause Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia type 6, a neurodegenerative disease characterized by an (upper) motor neuron phenotype. Deletions of NIPA1 have been associated with a higher susceptibility to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The exact role of genetic variation in NIPA1 in ALS susceptibility and disease course is, however, not known. We sequenced the entire coding sequence of NIPA1 and genotyped a polyalanine repeat located in the first exon of NIPA1. A total of 2292 ALS patients and 2777 controls from three independent European populations were included. We identified two sequence variants that have a potentially damaging effect on NIPA1 protein function. Both variants were identified in ALS patients; no damaging variants were found in controls. Secondly, we found a significant effect of 'long' polyalanine repeat alleles on disease susceptibility: odds ratio = 1.71, P = 1.6 × 10(-4). Our analyses also revealed a significant effect of 'long' alleles on patient survival [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.60, P = 4.2 × 10(-4)] and on the age at onset of symptoms (HR = 1.37, P = 4.6 × 10(-3)). In patients carrying 'long' alleles, median survival was 3 months shorter than patients with 'normal' genotypes and onset of symptoms occurred 3.6 years earlier. Our data show that NIPA1 polyalanine repeat expansions are a common risk factor for ALS and modulate disease course.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/dds064DOI Listing
June 2012

Angiogenin variants in Parkinson disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Ann Neurol 2011 Dec;70(6):964-73

Department of Neurology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Objective: Several studies have suggested an increased frequency of variants in the gene encoding angiogenin (ANG) in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Interestingly, a few ALS patients carrying ANG variants also showed signs of Parkinson disease (PD). Furthermore, relatives of ALS patients have an increased risk to develop PD, and the prevalence of concomitant motor neuron disease in PD is higher than expected based on chance occurrence. We therefore investigated whether ANG variants could predispose to both ALS and PD.

Methods: We reviewed all previous studies on ANG in ALS and performed sequence experiments on additional samples, which allowed us to analyze data from 6,471 ALS patients and 7,668 controls from 15 centers (13 from Europe and 2 from the USA). We sequenced DNA samples from 3,146 PD patients from 6 centers (5 from Europe and 1 from the USA). Statistical analysis was performed using the variable threshold test, and the Mantel-Haenszel procedure was used to estimate odds ratios.

Results: Analysis of sequence data from 17,258 individuals demonstrated a significantly higher frequency of ANG variants in both ALS and PD patients compared to control subjects (p = 9.3 × 10(-6) for ALS and p = 4.3 × 10(-5) for PD). The odds ratio for any ANG variant in patients versus controls was 9.2 for ALS and 6.7 for PD.

Interpretation: The data from this multicenter study demonstrate that there is a strong association between PD, ALS, and ANG variants. ANG is a genetic link between ALS and PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.22611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5560057PMC
December 2011

UNC13A is a modifier of survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Neurobiol Aging 2012 Mar 25;33(3):630.e3-8. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

Department of Neurology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, 3584 CX, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

A large genome-wide screen in patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) showed that the common variant rs12608932 in gene UNC13A was associated with disease susceptibility. UNC13A regulates the release of neurotransmitters, including glutamate. Genetic risk factors that, in addition, modify survival, provide promising therapeutic targets in ALS, a disease whose etiology remains largely elusive. We examined whether UNC13A was associated with survival of ALS patients in a cohort of 450 sporadic ALS patients and 524 unaffected controls from a population-based study of ALS in The Netherlands. Additionally, survival data were collected from individuals of Dutch, Belgian, or Swedish descent (1767 cases, 1817 controls) who had participated in a previously published genome-wide association study of ALS. We related survival to rs12608932 genotype. In both cohorts, the minor allele of rs12608932 in UNC13A was not only associated with susceptibility but also with shorter survival of ALS patients. Our results further corroborate the role of UNC13A in ALS pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.10.029DOI Listing
March 2012

VCP mutations in familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Neurobiol Aging 2012 Apr 10;33(4):837.e7-13. Epub 2011 Nov 10.

Department of Neurology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Mutations in the valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene were recently reported to be the cause of 1%-2% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases. VCP mutations are known to cause inclusion body myopathy (IBM) with Paget's disease (PDB) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The presence of VCP mutations in patients with sporadic ALS, sporadic ALS-FTD, and progressive muscular atrophy (PMA), a known clinical mimic of inclusion body myopathy, is not known. To determine the identity and frequency of VCP mutations we screened a cohort of 93 familial ALS, 754 sporadic ALS, 58 sporadic ALS-FTD, and 264 progressive muscular atrophy patients for mutations in the VCP gene. Two nonsynonymous mutations were detected; 1 known mutation (p.R159H) in a patient with familial ALS with several family members suffering from FTD, and 1 mutation (p.I114V) in a patient with sporadic ALS. Conservation analysis and protein prediction software indicate the p.I114V mutation to be a rare benign polymorphism. VCP mutations are a rare cause of familial ALS. The role of VCP mutations in sporadic ALS, if present, appears limited.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.10.006DOI Listing
April 2012

A large genome scan for rare CNVs in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Hum Mol Genet 2010 Oct 4;19(20):4091-9. Epub 2010 Aug 4.

Department of Neurology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Genetics, University Medical Centre Utrecht, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease selectively affecting motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified several common variants which increase disease susceptibility. In contrast, rare copy-number variants (CNVs), which have been associated with several neuropsychiatric traits, have not been studied for ALS in well-powered study populations. To examine the role of rare CNVs in ALS susceptibility, we conducted a CNV association study including over 19,000 individuals. In a genome-wide screen of 1875 cases and 8731 controls, we did not find evidence for a difference in global CNV burden between cases and controls. In our association analyses, we identified two loci that met our criteria for follow-up: the DPP6 locus (OR = 3.59, P = 6.6 × 10(-3)), which has already been implicated in ALS pathogenesis, and the 15q11.2 locus, containing NIPA1 (OR = 12.46, P = 9.3 × 10(-5)), the gene causing hereditary spastic paraparesis type 6 (HSP 6). We tested these loci in a replication cohort of 2559 cases and 5887 controls. Again, results were suggestive of association, but did not meet our criteria for independent replication: DPP6 locus: OR = 1.92, P = 0.097, pooled results: OR = 2.64, P = 1.4 × 10(-3); NIPA1: OR = 3.23, P = 0.041, pooled results: OR = 6.20, P = 2.2 × 10(-5)). Our results highlight DPP6 and NIPA1 as candidates for more in-depth studies. Unlike other complex neurological and psychiatric traits, rare CNVs with high effect size do not play a major role in ALS pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddq323DOI Listing
October 2010
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