Publications by authors named "Raffaele Ferrari"

81 Publications

Dementia in Latin America: Paving the way toward a regional action plan.

Alzheimers Dement 2021 02 20;17(2):295-313. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Hospital Geral de Fortaleza, University of Fortaleza, Brazil.

Across Latin American and Caribbean countries (LACs), the fight against dementia faces pressing challenges, such as heterogeneity, diversity, political instability, and socioeconomic disparities. These can be addressed more effectively in a collaborative setting that fosters open exchange of knowledge. In this work, the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD) proposes an agenda for integration to deliver a Knowledge to Action Framework (KtAF). First, we summarize evidence-based strategies (epidemiology, genetics, biomarkers, clinical trials, nonpharmacological interventions, networking, and translational research) and align them to current global strategies to translate regional knowledge into transformative actions. Then we characterize key sources of complexity (genetic isolates, admixture in populations, environmental factors, and barriers to effective interventions), map them to the above challenges, and provide the basic mosaics of knowledge toward a KtAF. Finally, we describe strategies supporting the knowledge creation stage that underpins the translational impact of KtAF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/alz.12202DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7984223PMC
February 2021

Genome sequencing analysis identifies new loci associated with Lewy body dementia and provides insights into its genetic architecture.

Nat Genet 2021 03 15;53(3):294-303. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Reta Lila Weston Institute, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.

The genetic basis of Lewy body dementia (LBD) is not well understood. Here, we performed whole-genome sequencing in large cohorts of LBD cases and neurologically healthy controls to study the genetic architecture of this understudied form of dementia, and to generate a resource for the scientific community. Genome-wide association analysis identified five independent risk loci, whereas genome-wide gene-aggregation tests implicated mutations in the gene GBA. Genetic risk scores demonstrate that LBD shares risk profiles and pathways with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, providing a deeper molecular understanding of the complex genetic architecture of this age-related neurodegenerative condition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-021-00785-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7946812PMC
March 2021

Identification of Candidate Parkinson Disease Genes by Integrating Genome-Wide Association Study, Expression, and Epigenetic Data Sets.

JAMA Neurol 2021 Apr;78(4):464-472

Department of Molecular Neuroscience, University College London Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, United Kingdom.

Importance: Substantial genome-wide association study (GWAS) work in Parkinson disease (PD) has led to the discovery of an increasing number of loci shown reliably to be associated with increased risk of disease. Improved understanding of the underlying genes and mechanisms at these loci will be key to understanding the pathogenesis of PD.

Objective: To investigate what genes and genomic processes underlie the risk of sporadic PD.

Design And Setting: This genetic association study used the bioinformatic tools Coloc and transcriptome-wide association study (TWAS) to integrate PD case-control GWAS data published in 2017 with expression data (from Braineac, the Genotype-Tissue Expression [GTEx], and CommonMind) and methylation data (derived from UK Parkinson brain samples) to uncover putative gene expression and splicing mechanisms associated with PD GWAS signals. Candidate genes were further characterized using cell-type specificity, weighted gene coexpression networks, and weighted protein-protein interaction networks.

Main Outcomes And Measures: It was hypothesized a priori that some genes underlying PD loci would alter PD risk through changes to expression, splicing, or methylation. Candidate genes are presented whose change in expression, splicing, or methylation are associated with risk of PD as well as the functional pathways and cell types in which these genes have an important role.

Results: Gene-level analysis of expression revealed 5 genes (WDR6 [OMIM 606031], CD38 [OMIM 107270], GPNMB [OMIM 604368], RAB29 [OMIM 603949], and TMEM163 [OMIM 618978]) that replicated using both Coloc and TWAS analyses in both the GTEx and Braineac expression data sets. A further 6 genes (ZRANB3 [OMIM 615655], PCGF3 [OMIM 617543], NEK1 [OMIM 604588], NUPL2 [NCBI 11097], GALC [OMIM 606890], and CTSB [OMIM 116810]) showed evidence of disease-associated splicing effects. Cell-type specificity analysis revealed that gene expression was overall more prevalent in glial cell types compared with neurons. The weighted gene coexpression performed on the GTEx data set showed that NUPL2 is a key gene in 3 modules implicated in catabolic processes associated with protein ubiquitination and in the ubiquitin-dependent protein catabolic process in the nucleus accumbens, caudate, and putamen. TMEM163 and ZRANB3 were both important in modules in the frontal cortex and caudate, respectively, indicating regulation of signaling and cell communication. Protein interactor analysis and simulations using random networks demonstrated that the candidate genes interact significantly more with known mendelian PD and parkinsonism proteins than would be expected by chance.

Conclusions And Relevance: Together, these results suggest that several candidate genes and pathways are associated with the findings observed in PD GWAS studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.5257DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851759PMC
April 2021

Mendelian and Sporadic FTD: Disease Risk and Avenues from Genetics to Disease Pathways Through In Silico Modelling.

Adv Exp Med Biol 2021 ;1281:283-296

Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, University College London, Institute of Neurology, London, UK.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is regarded as the second most common form of young-onset dementia after Alzheimer's disease (AD).FTD is a complex neurodegenerative condition characterised by heterogeneous clinical, pathological and genetic features. No efficient measures for early diagnosis and therapy are available.Familial (Mendelian) forms of disease have been studied over the past 20 years. Conversely, the genetics of sporadic forms of FTD (up to 70% of all cases) is understudied and still poorly understood. All this taken together suggests that more powerful and in-depth studies to tackle missing heritability and define the genetic architecture of sporadic FTD, with particular focus on the different subtypes (i.e. clinical and pathological diagnoses), are warranted.In parallel, it will be critical to translate the genetic findings into functional understanding of disease, i.e. moving from the identification of risk genes to the definition of risk pathways. It will be necessary to implement a paradigm shift - from reductionist to holistic approaches - to better interpret genetics and assist functional studies aimed at modelling and validating such risk pathways.In this chapter, we focus on the heterogeneous features of FTD touching upon its complex genetic landscape and discuss how novel approaches (e.g. computationally driven systems biology) promise to revolutionise the translation of genetic information into functional understanding of disease pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-51140-1_17DOI Listing
February 2021

Genetic determinants of survival in progressive supranuclear palsy: a genome-wide association study.

Lancet Neurol 2021 02 17;20(2):107-116. Epub 2020 Dec 17.

Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, London, UK; Movement Disorders Centre, University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology, London, UK. Electronic address:

Background: The genetic basis of variation in the progression of primary tauopathies has not been determined. We aimed to identify genetic determinants of survival in progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

Methods: In stage one of this two stage genome-wide association study (GWAS), we included individuals with PSP, diagnosed according to pathological and clinical criteria, from two separate cohorts: the 2011 PSP GWAS cohort, from brain banks based at the Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville, FL, USA) and in Munich (Germany), and the University College London PSP cohort, from brain banks and the PROSPECT study, a UK-wide longitudinal study of patients with atypical parkinsonian syndromes. Individuals were included if they had clinical data available on sex, age at motor symptom onset, disease duration (from motor symptom onset to death or to the date of censoring, Dec 1, 2019, if individuals were alive), and PSP phenotype (with reference to the 2017 Movement Disorder Society criteria). Genotype data were used to do a survival GWAS using a Cox proportional hazards model. In stage two, data from additional individuals from the Mayo Clinic brain bank, which were obtained after the 2011 PSP GWAS, were used for a pooled analysis. We assessed the expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) profile of variants that passed genome-wide significance in our GWAS using the Functional Mapping and Annotation of GWAS platform, and did colocalisation analyses using the eQTLGen and PsychENCODE datasets.

Findings: Data were collected and analysed between Aug 1, 2016, and Feb 1, 2020. Data were available for 1001 individuals of white European ancestry with PSP in stage one. We found a genome-wide significant association with survival at chromosome 12 (lead single nucleotide polymorphism rs2242367, p=7·5 × 10, hazard ratio 1·42 [95% CI 1·22-1·67]). rs2242367 was associated with survival in the individuals added in stage two (n=238; p=0·049, 1·22 [1·00-1·48]) and in the pooled analysis of both stages (n=1239; p=1·3 × 10, 1·37 [1·25-1·51]). An eQTL database screen revealed that rs2242367 is associated with increased expression of LRRK2 and two long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), LINC02555 and AC079630.4, in whole blood. Although we did not detect a colocalisation signal for LRRK2, analysis of the PSP survival signal and eQTLs for LINC02555 in the eQTLGen blood dataset revealed a posterior probability of hypothesis 4 of 0·77, suggesting colocalisation due to a single shared causal variant.

Interpretation: Genetic variation at the LRRK2 locus was associated with survival in PSP. The mechanism of this association might be through a lncRNA-regulated effect on LRRK2 expression because LINC02555 has previously been shown to regulate LRRK2 expression. LRRK2 has been associated with sporadic and familial forms of Parkinson's disease, and our finding suggests a genetic overlap with PSP. Further functional studies will be important to assess the potential of LRRK2 modulation as a disease-modifying therapy for PSP and related tauopathies.

Funding: PSP Association, CBD Solutions, Medical Research Council (UK).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30394-XDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7116626PMC
February 2021

Pathogenic Huntingtin Repeat Expansions in Patients with Frontotemporal Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Neuron 2021 02 26;109(3):448-460.e4. Epub 2020 Nov 26.

Molecular Markers Laboratory, IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia 25125, Italy; MAC Memory Clinic, IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia 25125, Italy.

We examined the role of repeat expansions in the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) by analyzing whole-genome sequence data from 2,442 FTD/ALS patients, 2,599 Lewy body dementia (LBD) patients, and 3,158 neurologically healthy subjects. Pathogenic expansions (range, 40-64 CAG repeats) in the huntingtin (HTT) gene were found in three (0.12%) patients diagnosed with pure FTD/ALS syndromes but were not present in the LBD or healthy cohorts. We replicated our findings in an independent collection of 3,674 FTD/ALS patients. Postmortem evaluations of two patients revealed the classical TDP-43 pathology of FTD/ALS, as well as huntingtin-positive, ubiquitin-positive aggregates in the frontal cortex. The neostriatal atrophy that pathologically defines Huntington's disease was absent in both cases. Our findings reveal an etiological relationship between HTT repeat expansions and FTD/ALS syndromes and indicate that genetic screening of FTD/ALS patients for HTT repeat expansions should be considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2020.11.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7864894PMC
February 2021

Genetic variation in APOE, GRN, and TP53 are phenotype modifiers in frontotemporal dementia.

Neurobiol Aging 2021 03 2;99:99.e15-99.e22. Epub 2020 Sep 2.

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders Unit, Hospital Clínic, Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a clinical, genetic, and pathologic heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we investigated the role of APOƐ4, rs5848 in GRN, and rs1042522 in TP53 gene as disease risk factors and/or phenotype modifiers in 440 FTD patients, including 175 C9orf72 expansion carriers. We found that the C9orf72 expansion carriers showing an earlier age at onset (p < 0.001). Among the clinical groups, the FTD-MND (motoneuron disease) showed the lowest survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 4.12), and the progressive nonfluent aphasia group showed the highest onset age (p = 0.03). In our cohort, the rs1042522 in TP53 was associated with disease onset (p = 0.02) and survival (HR = 1.73) and rs5848 GRN with a significantly shorter survival in CC homozygous patients (HR = 1.98). The frequency of APOƐ4 carriers was significantly increased in the C9orf72 noncarriers (p = 0.022). Although validation of our findings is necessary, our results suggest that TP53, GRN, and APOE genes may act as phenotype modifiers in FTD and should be considered in future clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.08.018DOI Listing
March 2021

, age at onset, and ancestry help discriminate behavioral from language variants in FTLD cohorts.

Neurology 2020 12 17;95(24):e3288-e3302. Epub 2020 Sep 17.

From the Institute of Neurology (B.C., D.A.K., J.H., P.A.L., R.F.), School of Pharmacy (C.M.), and UCL Movement Disorders Centre (J.H.), University College London; School of Pharmacy (C.M., P.A.L.), University of Reading, Whiteknights; Neurogenetics Laboratory (M.B.-Q., C.W., J.M.P.), National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK; Aptima Clinic (Miquel Aguilar), Terrassa; Memory Disorders Unit, Department of Neurology (I.A., M.D.-F., P.P.), University Hospital Mutua de Terrassa, Barcelona; Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (V.A., M.M.-G.), Oviedo, Spain; NORMENT (O.A.), Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway; Regional Neurogenetic Centre (Maria Anfossi, Livia Bernardi, A.C.B., M.E.C., Chiara Cupidi, F.F., Maura Gallo, R.M., N.S.), ASPCZ, Lamezia Terme; Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Drug Research and Child Health (S.B., B.N., I.P., S.S.), University of Florence; Molecular Markers Laboratory (Luisa Benussi, Giuliano Binetti, R.G.), IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy; Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), Department of Neuroscience (D.B.), University of Sheffield, UK; Research Center and Memory Clinic (M.B., I.H., S.M.-G., Agustín Ruiz), Fundació ACE, Institut Català de Neurociències Aplicades, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC), Barcelona, Spain; Centre for Neurodegenerative Disorders (B.B., A.P.), Department of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Brescia, Italy; Department of Clinical Neurosciences (Lucy Bowns, T.E.C., J.B.R.), Cambridge University, UK; Department of Neurology (Geir Bråthen, S.B.S.), University Hospital of Trondheim, Norway; Dept NVS, Division of Neurogeriatrics (H.-H.C., C.G., B.K., L.Ö.), Karolinska Institutet, Bioclinicum Solna, Sweden; Department of Neurology (J.C., O.D.-I., I.I.-G., A.L.), IIB Sant Pau, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain; Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic (S.C., G.J.T.H., S.P.) and Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (S.P.), University of Edinburgh, UK; NeuroGenomics and Informatics, Department of Psychiatry (Carlos Cruchaga), Washington University, St. Louis, MO; Cognitive Impairment Center (M.E.D.B., Maurizio Gallucci) and Immunohematology and Transfusional Medicine Service (E.D., A.V.), Local Health Authority n.2 Marca Trevigiana, Treviso, Italy; Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (J.D.-S., C.R.), School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Germany; Department of Neurology (D.F., M.G.K.) and Clinical Institute of Medical Genetics (A.M., B.P.), University Medical Center Ljubljana, Slovenia; Dino Ferrari Center (D.G., Elio Scarpini, M.S.), University of Milan, Italy; Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Think and Speak Lab (J.H.G.), Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, Chicago, IL; Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (Murray Grossman, EunRan Suh, J.Q.T., V.M.V.D.), Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; UCL Dementia Research Institute (J.H.), London; Reta Lila Weston Institute (J.H.), UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, UK; Institute for Advanced Study (J.H.), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China; Royal Edinburgh Hospital (G.J.T.H.), UK; Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain (E.D.H.), Columbia University, New York, NY; Department of Neurology, Memory and Aging Center (A.K., B.M., J.Y.), University of California, San Francisco; UCL Genomics (M.K., G.K.M., Y.P.), UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London, UK; Geriatric Center Frullone ASL Napoli 1 Centro (G.M.), Napoli, Italy; Department of Neurology (M.O.M., J.v.R., J.C.V.S.), Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Rona Holdings (P.M.), Silicon Valley, CA; Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource, Institute of Neuroscience (C.M.M.), Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Department of Neurology (C.N.), Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden; Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS (V.N.), Rome, Italy; Division of Neuroscience & Experimental Psychology (S.P.-B., A.M.T.R., S.R., J.C.T.), University of Manchester, UK; Amsterdam University Medical Center (Y.A.L.P.), VU University Medical Center, the Netherlands; Cardiovascular Research Unit (A.A.P.), IRCCS Multimedica, Milan; Neurology I, Department of Neuroscience (I.R., Elisa Rubino), University of Torino; NeurOMICS laboratory (G.M., Antonella Rendina, E.V.), Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology (IBBC), CNR Napoli, Italy; Manchester Centre for Clinical Neurosciences (A.M.T.R., J.S., J.C.T.), Salford Royal NHS Trust, Manchester, UK; Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases (Ekaterina Rogaeva), University of Toronto, Canada; Department of Biotechnology (B.R.), Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Division of Neurology V and Neuropathology (G.R., F.T.), Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy; Alzheimer's Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders Unit (R.S.-V.), Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, Spain; Clinical Memory Research Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences Malmö (C.N., A.F.S.), and Division of Clinical Sciences Helsingborg, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund (M.L.W.), Lund University, Sweden; Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group (J.V.d.Z., C.V.B.), Center for Molecular Neurology, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium; Medical Research Council Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (V.E.-P.), Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences and Dementia Research Institute, Cardiff University, UK; Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Principado de Asturias (V.A.), Oviedo, Asturias; Fundació per la Recerca Biomèdica i Social Mútua Terrassa (I.A., M.D.-F., P.P.), Barcelona; Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas (CIBERNED) (M.B., J.C., O.D.-I., I.H., I.I.-G., A.L., S.M.-G., Agustín Ruiz), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain; MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (Lucy Bowns, T.E.C., J.B.R.), Cambridge University, UK; Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science (Geir Bråthen, S.B.S.), Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; Unit for Hereditary Dementias (H.-H.C., C.G., B.K., L.Ö.), Theme Aging, Karolinska University Hospital, Solna, Sweden; Medical Faculty (D.F., M.G.K.), University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; Fondazione IRCCS Ca'Granda (D.G., Elio Scarpini, M.S.), Ospedale Policlinico, Milan, Italy; Penn Center for Frontotemporal Degeneration (Murray Grossman), Philadelphia, PA; Universidad de Oviedo (M.M.-G.), Asturias, Spain; IRCCS Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi (B.N., S.S.), Florence; Istituto di Medicina Genomica (V.N.), Università Cattolica del sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy; Amsterdam Neuroscience (Y.A.L.P.), the Netherlands; Department of Medicine and Surgery (A.A.P.), University of Salerno, Baronissi (SA), Italy; Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology (B.R.), University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; Institud d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (R.S.-V.), Barcelona, Spain; Department of Biomedical Sciences (J.V.d.Z., C.V.B.), University of Antwerp, Belgium; and Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences (P.A.L.), The Royal Veterinary College, London, UK.

Objective: We sought to characterize expansions in relation to genetic ancestry and age at onset (AAO) and to use these measures to discriminate the behavioral from the language variant syndrome in a large pan-European cohort of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) cases.

Methods: We evaluated expansions frequency in the entire cohort (n = 1,396; behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia [bvFTD] [n = 800], primary progressive aphasia [PPA] [n = 495], and FTLD-motor neuron disease [MND] [n = 101]). We then focused on the bvFTD and PPA cases and tested for association between expansion status, syndromes, genetic ancestry, and AAO applying statistical tests comprising Fisher exact tests, analysis of variance with Tukey post hoc tests, and logistic and nonlinear mixed-effects model regressions.

Results: We found pathogenic expansions in 4% of all cases (56/1,396). Expansion carriers differently distributed across syndromes: 12/101 FTLD-MND (11.9%), 40/800 bvFTD (5%), and 4/495 PPA (0.8%). While addressing population substructure through principal components analysis (PCA), we defined 2 patients groups with Central/Northern (n = 873) and Southern European (n = 523) ancestry. The proportion of expansion carriers was significantly higher in bvFTD compared to PPA (5% vs 0.8% [ = 2.17 × 10; odds ratio (OR) 6.4; confidence interval (CI) 2.31-24.99]), as well as in individuals with Central/Northern European compared to Southern European ancestry (4.4% vs 1.8% [ = 1.1 × 10; OR 2.5; CI 1.17-5.99]). Pathogenic expansions and Central/Northern European ancestry independently and inversely correlated with AAO. Our prediction model (based on expansions status, genetic ancestry, and AAO) predicted a diagnosis of bvFTD with 64% accuracy.

Conclusions: Our results indicate correlation between pathogenic expansions, AAO, PCA-based Central/Northern European ancestry, and a diagnosis of bvFTD, implying complex genetic risk architectures differently underpinning the behavioral and language variant syndromes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000010914DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7836664PMC
December 2020

CD33 and SIGLECL1 Immunoglobulin Superfamily Involved in Dementia.

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 2020 08;79(8):891-901

From the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology (IBBC), National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Naples, Italy.

Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-type lectins, which are predominantly expressed in immune cells, represent a family of immunomodulatory receptors with inhibitory and activating signals, in both healthy and disease states. Genetic factors are important in all forms of dementia, especially in early onset dementia. CD33 was recently recognized as a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer disease (AD). Here, we present a 2-generation family with 4 members, the father and the 3 siblings, characterized by an early form of unusual dementia exhibiting a behavioral variant close to behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia phenotype and severe forms of memory loss suggestive of AD. We analyzed the CD33 gene in this family and identified 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a linkage disequilibrium block associated with the disease. We also identified a tag SNP, rs2455069-A>G, in CD33 exon 2 that could be involved with dementia risk. Additionally, we excluded the presence of C9orf72 expansion mutations and other mutations previously associated with sporadic FTD and AD. The tag SNP association was also analyzed in selected sporadic AD patients from the same Southern Italy region. We demonstrate that CD33 and SIGLECL1 have a significantly increased level of expression in these patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnen/nlaa055DOI Listing
August 2020

PINOT: an intuitive resource for integrating protein-protein interactions.

Cell Commun Signal 2020 06 11;18(1):92. Epub 2020 Jun 11.

School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AP, UK.

Background: The past decade has seen the rise of omics data for the understanding of biological systems in health and disease. This wealth of information includes protein-protein interaction (PPI) data derived from both low- and high-throughput assays, which are curated into multiple databases that capture the extent of available information from the peer-reviewed literature. Although these curation efforts are extremely useful, reliably downloading and integrating PPI data from the variety of available repositories is challenging and time consuming.

Methods: We here present a novel user-friendly web-resource called PINOT (Protein Interaction Network Online Tool; available at http://www.reading.ac.uk/bioinf/PINOT/PINOT_form.html) to optimise the collection and processing of PPI data from IMEx consortium associated repositories (members and observers) and WormBase, for constructing, respectively, human and Caenorhabditis elegans PPI networks.

Results: Users submit a query containing a list of proteins of interest for which PINOT extracts data describing PPIs. At every query submission PPI data are downloaded, merged and quality assessed. Then each PPI is confidence scored based on the number of distinct methods used for interaction detection and the number of publications that report the specific interaction. Examples of how PINOT can be applied are provided to highlight the performance, ease of use and potential utility of this tool.

Conclusions: PINOT is a tool that allows users to survey the curated literature, extracting PPI data in relation to a list of proteins of interest. PINOT extracts a similar numbers of PPIs as other, analogous, tools and incorporates a set of innovative features. PINOT is able to process large queries, it downloads human PPIs live through PSICQUIC and it applies quality control filters on the downloaded PPI data (i.e. removing the need for manual inspection by the user). PINOT provides the user with information on detection methods and publication history for each downloaded interaction data entry and outputs the results in a table format that can be straightforwardly further customised and/or directly uploaded into network visualization software. Video abstract.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12964-020-00554-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7291677PMC
June 2020

Concentration of Polymer Nanoparticles Through Dialysis: Efficacy and Comparison With Lyophilization for PEGylated and Zwitterionic Systems.

J Pharm Sci 2020 08 21;109(8):2607-2614. Epub 2020 May 21.

Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering "Giulio Natta", Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy.

Biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) are attracting increasing attention as carriers for drug delivery. However, one of the main factors limiting their transition to the market is their premature degradation and release of the payload during the storage. Therefore, for increasing the formulation shelf-life, the removal of water is of paramount importance. In this work, we synthesized both polyethylene glycol (PEG)-stabilized and zwitterionic NPs via Reversible Addition Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) Polymerization. We demonstrated that lyophilization leads the PEGylated NPs to irreversible aggregation, while the stability of the zwitterionic NPs was preserved only using a cryoprotectant. Therefore, we developed an alternative method for the NP concentration, based on the dialysis against a concentrated PEG solution. This method was optimized in terms of concentration factor (Fc), the ratio between the final and initial NP concentration, by acting on the PEG concentration in the dialysis medium, on its volume and on the initial NP concentration. With this approach, Fc up to 40 can be achieved in less than 10 h, preserving the possibility of redispersing the NPs to their original particle size distribution. Therefore, the dialysis proposed herein is a valuable alternative to lyophilization for the concentration of polymer NPs preserving their stability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.xphs.2020.05.001DOI Listing
August 2020

The vortex gas scaling regime of baroclinic turbulence.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 Mar 18;117(9):4491-4497. Epub 2020 Feb 18.

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.

The mean state of the atmosphere and ocean is set through a balance between external forcing (radiation, winds, heat and freshwater fluxes) and the emergent turbulence, which transfers energy to dissipative structures. The forcing gives rise to jets in the atmosphere and currents in the ocean, which spontaneously develop turbulent eddies through the baroclinic instability. A critical step in the development of a theory of climate is to properly include the eddy-induced turbulent transport of properties like heat, moisture, and carbon. In the linear stages, baroclinic instability generates flow structures at the Rossby deformation radius, a length scale of order 1,000 km in the atmosphere and 100 km in the ocean, smaller than the planetary scale and the typical extent of ocean basins, respectively. There is, therefore, a separation of scales between the large-scale gradient of properties like temperature and the smaller eddies that advect it randomly, inducing effective diffusion. Numerical solutions show that such scale separation remains in the strongly nonlinear turbulent regime, provided there is sufficient drag at the bottom of the atmosphere and ocean. We compute the scaling laws governing the eddy-driven transport associated with baroclinic turbulence. First, we provide a theoretical underpinning for empirical scaling laws reported in previous studies, for different formulations of the bottom drag law. Second, these scaling laws are shown to provide an important first step toward an accurate local closure to predict the impact of baroclinic turbulence in setting the large-scale temperature profiles in the atmosphere and ocean.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1916272117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7060697PMC
March 2020

Role for ATXN1, ATXN2, and HTT intermediate repeats in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Neurobiol Aging 2020 03 1;87:139.e1-139.e7. Epub 2019 Nov 1.

Movement Disorders Unit, Neurology Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Maranon, Madrid, Spain.

We analyzed the frequency of intermediate alleles (IAs) in the ATXN1, ATXN2, and HTT genes in several neurodegenerative diseases. The study included 1126 patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), 440 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and 610 patients with Parkinson's disease. In all cohorts, we genotyped ATXN1 and ATXN2 CAG repeats. In addition, in the FTD cohort, we determined the number of HTT CAG repeats. The frequency of HTT IAs was higher in patients with FTD (6.9%) versus controls (2.9%) and in the C9orf72 expansion noncarriers (7.2%) versus controls (2.9%), although the difference was nonsignificant after correction for multiple testing. Compared with controls, progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA) groups showed a significantly higher frequency of HTT IAs (13.6% vs. 2.9% controls). For the ATXN2 gene, we observed an increase in IA frequency in AD cases (AD 4.1% vs. controls 1.8%) and in the behavioral FTD group (4.8% vs. 1.8%). For the ATXN1 gene, we found a significant increase of IAs in patients with PNFA (18.6%) versus controls (6.7%). In conclusion, our work suggests that the HTT and ATXN1 IAS may contribute to PNFA pathogenesis and point to a link between ATXN2 IAS and AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.10.017DOI Listing
March 2020

Genetic variation across RNA metabolism and cell death gene networks is implicated in the semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia.

Sci Rep 2019 07 26;9(1):10854. Epub 2019 Jul 26.

Memory and Aging Center, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.

The semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia (svPPA) is a clinical syndrome characterized by neurodegeneration and progressive loss of semantic knowledge. Unlike many other forms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), svPPA has a highly consistent underlying pathology composed of TDP-43 (a regulator of RNA and DNA transcription metabolism). Previous genetic studies of svPPA are limited by small sample sizes and a paucity of common risk variants. Despite this, svPPA's relatively homogenous clinicopathologic phenotype makes it an ideal investigative model to examine genetic processes that may drive neurodegenerative disease. In this study, we used GWAS metadata, tissue samples from pathologically confirmed frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and in silico techniques to identify and characterize protein interaction networks associated with svPPA risk. We identified 64 svPPA risk genes that interact at the protein level. The protein pathways represented in this svPPA gene network are critical regulators of RNA metabolism and cell death, such as SMAD proteins and NOTCH1. Many of the genes in this network are involved in TDP-43 metabolism. Contrary to the conventional notion that svPPA is a clinical syndrome with few genetic risk factors, our analyses show that svPPA risk is complex and polygenic in nature. Risk for svPPA is likely driven by multiple common variants in genes interacting with TDP-43, along with cell death,x` working in combination to promote neurodegeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46415-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6659677PMC
July 2019

Recovery of Mineral Oil from Underground Electrical Cables.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019 07 3;16(13). Epub 2019 Jul 3.

Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, Department of Chemistry and Applied Bioscience, ETH Zurich, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.

To remove the mineral oil impregnating the insulating paper present in old, disconnected, underground electrical cables, which represents a threat to the environment, two approaches are investigated at laboratory (1 m) and pilot (10 m) scales. The first one involves in situ polymerization to clog the inner channel of the cables and to enable the washing of the outer paper region impregnated by the oil by axial flow of a displacing fluid (water). The second approach leaves the inner channel open and employs repeated cycles of pressurization and rest to displace the oil contained in the paper by radially pushing the water from the inner channel into the outer layers. The pressurization and rest times were optimized to obtain the highest oil extraction rate. While the first approach showed limitations in terms of required pressures and operating time, which increase with the length of the cables, the second one was effective at removing 97% of the oil impregnating the paper layers within 25 cycles. Even more relevant, this second solution, in contrast to the first one, can be easily scaled up as it does not depend on the length of the cable, and was successfully tested on a 10 m cable, showing 98% oil recovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132357DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6651412PMC
July 2019

Genetics and molecular mechanisms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration: an update and future avenues.

Neurobiol Aging 2019 06 14;78:98-110. Epub 2019 Feb 14.

Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, University College London, Institute of Neurology, London, UK.

Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. The study and the dissection of FTLD is complex due to its clinical, pathological, and genetic heterogeneity. In this review, we survey the state-of-the-art genetics of familial FTLD and recapitulate our current understanding of the genetic architecture of sporadic FTLD by summarizing results of genome-wide association studies performed in FTLD to date. We then discuss the challenges of translating these heterogeneous genetic features into the understanding of the molecular underpinnings of FTLD pathogenesis. We particularly highlight a number of susceptibility processes that appear to be conserved across familial and sporadic cases (e.g., and the cellular waste disposal pathways, and immune system signaling) and finally describe cutting-edge approaches, based on mathematical prediction tools, highlighting novel intriguing risk pathways such as DNA damage response as an emerging theme in FTLD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.02.006DOI Listing
June 2019

Tau Mutations as a Novel Risk Factor for Cancer-Response.

Cancer Res 2018 11 29;78(22):6525. Epub 2018 Oct 29.

Unit of Neurology V and Neuropathology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milano, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-2730DOI Listing
November 2018

Protein network analysis reveals selectively vulnerable regions and biological processes in FTD.

Neurol Genet 2018 Oct 1;4(5):e266. Epub 2018 Oct 1.

Department of Neurology (L.W.B., N.Z.R.S., E.G.G., Z.A.M., B.L.M., W.W.S., J.S.Y.), Memory and Aging Center, University of California, San Francisco; Department of Psychiatry (C.M.K., N.W., A.O.-K.), Washington University, St. Louis, MO; School of Pharmacy (C.M., P.L.), University of Reading, Reading, UK; Laboratory of Neurogenetics (P.M.), Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock; Department of Molecular Neuroscience (C.M., J.H., P.L., R.F.), UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK; Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Neuroradiology Section (C.P.H., R.S.D.), University of California, San Francisco; and Department of Neurology (S.E.B.), University of California, San Francisco.

Objective: The neuroanatomical profile of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) suggests a common biological etiology of disease despite disparate pathologic causes; we investigated the genetic underpinnings of this selective regional vulnerability to identify new risk factors for bvFTD.

Methods: We used recently developed analytical techniques designed to address the limitations of genome-wide association studies to generate a protein interaction network of 63 bvFTD risk genes. We characterized this network using gene expression data from healthy and diseased human brain tissue, evaluating regional network expression patterns across the lifespan as well as the cell types and biological processes most affected in bvFTD.

Results: We found that bvFTD network genes show enriched expression across the human lifespan in vulnerable neuronal populations, are implicated in cell signaling, cell cycle, immune function, and development, and are differentially expressed in pathologically confirmed frontotemporal lobar degeneration cases. Five of the genes highlighted by our differential expression analyses, , , , , and , appear to be novel bvFTD risk loci.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the cumulative burden of common genetic variation in an interacting protein network expressed in specific brain regions across the lifespan may influence susceptibility to bvFTD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXG.0000000000000266DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6167176PMC
October 2018

A C6orf10/LOC101929163 locus is associated with age of onset in C9orf72 carriers.

Brain 2018 10;141(10):2895-2907

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases, Center of Molecular Neurology, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium.

The G4C2-repeat expansion in C9orf72 is the most common known cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. The high phenotypic heterogeneity of C9orf72 patients includes a wide range in age of onset, modifiers of which are largely unknown. Age of onset could be influenced by environmental and genetic factors both of which may trigger DNA methylation changes at CpG sites. We tested the hypothesis that age of onset in C9orf72 patients is associated with some common single nucleotide polymorphisms causing a gain or loss of CpG sites and thus resulting in DNA methylation alterations. Combined analyses of epigenetic and genetic data have the advantage of detecting functional variants with reduced likelihood of false negative results due to excessive correction for multiple testing in genome-wide association studies. First, we estimated the association between age of onset in C9orf72 patients (n = 46) and the DNA methylation levels at all 7603 CpG sites available on the 450 k BeadChip that are mapped to common single nucleotide polymorphisms. This was followed by a genetic association study of the discovery (n = 144) and replication (n = 187) C9orf72 cohorts. We found that age of onset was reproducibly associated with polymorphisms within a 124.7 kb linkage disequilibrium block tagged by top-significant variation, rs9357140, and containing two overlapping genes (LOC101929163 and C6orf10). A meta-analysis of all 331 C9orf72 carriers revealed that every A-allele of rs9357140 reduced hazard by 30% (P = 0.0002); and the median age of onset in AA-carriers was 6 years later than GG-carriers. In addition, we investigated a cohort of C9orf72 negative patients (n = 2634) affected by frontotemporal dementia and/or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; and also found that the AA-genotype of rs9357140 was associated with a later age of onset (adjusted P = 0.007 for recessive model). Phenotype analyses detected significant association only in the largest subgroup of patients with frontotemporal dementia (n = 2142, adjusted P = 0.01 for recessive model). Gene expression studies of frontal cortex tissues from 25 autopsy cases affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis revealed that the G-allele of rs9357140 is associated with increased brain expression of LOC101929163 (a non-coding RNA) and HLA-DRB1 (involved in initiating immune responses), while the A-allele is associated with their reduced expression. Our findings suggest that carriers of the rs9357140 GG-genotype (linked to an earlier age of onset) might be more prone to be in a pro-inflammatory state (e.g. by microglia) than AA-carriers. Further, investigating the functional links within the C6orf10/LOC101929163/HLA-DRB1 pathway will be critical to better define age-dependent pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awy238DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6158742PMC
October 2018

Variation at the TRIM11 locus modifies progressive supranuclear palsy phenotype.

Ann Neurol 2018 10 15;84(4):485-496. Epub 2018 Sep 15.

Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.

Objective: The basis for clinical variation related to underlying progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) pathology is unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify genetic determinants of PSP phenotype.

Methods: Two independent pathological and clinically diagnosed PSP cohorts were genotyped and phenotyped to create Richardson syndrome (RS) and non-RS groups. We carried out separate logistic regression GWASs to compare RS and non-RS groups and then combined datasets to carry out a whole cohort analysis (RS = 367, non-RS = 130). We validated our findings in a third cohort by referring to data from 100 deeply phenotyped cases from a recent GWAS. We assessed the expression/coexpression patterns of our identified genes and used our data to carry out gene-based association testing.

Results: Our lead single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs564309, showed an association signal in both cohorts, reaching genome-wide significance in our whole cohort analysis (odds ratio = 5.5, 95% confidence interval = 3.2-10.0, p = 1.7 × 10 ). rs564309 is an intronic variant of the tripartite motif-containing protein 11 (TRIM11) gene, a component of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). In our third cohort, minor allele frequencies of surrogate SNPs in high linkage disequilibrium with rs564309 replicated our findings. Gene-based association testing confirmed an association signal at TRIM11. We found that TRIM11 is predominantly expressed neuronally, in the cerebellum and basal ganglia.

Interpretation: Our study suggests that the TRIM11 locus is a genetic modifier of PSP phenotype and potentially adds further evidence for the UPS having a key role in tau pathology, therefore representing a target for disease-modifying therapies. Ann Neurol 2018;84:485-496.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25308DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6221133PMC
October 2018

Stratification of candidate genes for Parkinson's disease using weighted protein-protein interaction network analysis.

BMC Genomics 2018 Jun 13;19(1):452. Epub 2018 Jun 13.

Department of Molecular Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, WC1B 5EH, UK.

Background: Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have helped identify large numbers of genetic loci that significantly associate with increased risk of developing diseases. However, translating genetic knowledge into understanding of the molecular mechanisms underpinning disease (i.e. disease-specific impacted biological processes) has to date proved to be a major challenge. This is primarily due to difficulties in confidently defining candidate genes at GWAS-risk loci. The goal of this study was to better characterize candidate genes within GWAS loci using a protein interactome based approach and with Parkinson's disease (PD) data as a test case.

Results: We applied a recently developed Weighted Protein-Protein Interaction Network Analysis (WPPINA) pipeline as a means to define impacted biological processes, risk pathways and therein key functional players. We used previously established Mendelian forms of PD to identify seed proteins, and to construct a protein network for genetic Parkinson's and carried out functional enrichment analyses. We isolated PD-specific processes indicating 'mitochondria stressors mediated cell death', 'immune response and signaling', and 'waste disposal' mediated through 'autophagy'. Merging the resulting protein network with data from Parkinson's GWAS we confirmed 10 candidate genes previously selected by pure proximity and were able to nominate 17 novel candidate genes for sporadic PD.

Conclusions: With this study, we were able to better characterize the underlying genetic and functional architecture of idiopathic PD, thus validating WPPINA as a robust pipeline for the in silico genetic and functional dissection of complex disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-018-4804-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6000968PMC
June 2018

Tau Mutations Serve as a Novel Risk Factor for Cancer.

Cancer Res 2018 07 24;78(13):3731-3739. Epub 2018 May 24.

Scientific Directorate, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milano, Italy.

In addition to its well-recognized role in neurodegeneration, tau participates in maintenance of genome stability and chromosome integrity. In particular, peripheral cells from patients affected by frontotemporal lobar degeneration carrying a mutation in tau gene (genetic tauopathies), as well as cells from animal models, show chromosome numerical and structural aberrations, chromatin anomalies, and a propensity toward abnormal recombination. As genome instability is tightly linked to cancer development, we hypothesized that mutated tau may be a susceptibility factor for cancer. Here we conducted a retrospective cohort study comparing cancer incidence in families affected by genetic tauopathies to control families. In addition, we carried out a bioinformatics analysis to highlight pathways associated with the tau protein interactome. We report that the risk of developing cancer is significantly higher in families affected by genetic tauopathies, and a high proportion of tau protein interactors are involved in cellular processes particularly relevant to cancer. These findings disclose a novel role of tau as a risk factor for cancer, providing new insights in the various pathologic roles of mutated tau. This study reveals a novel role for tau as a risk factor for cancer, providing new insights beyond its role in neurodegeneration. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-3175DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6031304PMC
July 2018

Potential genetic modifiers of disease risk and age at onset in patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration and GRN mutations: a genome-wide association study.

Lancet Neurol 2018 06 30;17(6):548-558. Epub 2018 Apr 30.

Department of Neurological-Psychiatric Nursing, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland.

Background: Loss-of-function mutations in GRN cause frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Patients with GRN mutations present with a uniform subtype of TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) pathology at autopsy (FTLD-TDP type A); however, age at onset and clinical presentation are variable, even within families. We aimed to identify potential genetic modifiers of disease onset and disease risk in GRN mutation carriers.

Methods: The study was done in three stages: a discovery stage, a replication stage, and a meta-analysis of the discovery and replication data. In the discovery stage, genome-wide logistic and linear regression analyses were done to test the association of genetic variants with disease risk (case or control status) and age at onset in patients with a GRN mutation and controls free of neurodegenerative disorders. Suggestive loci (p<1 × 10) were genotyped in a replication cohort of patients and controls, followed by a meta-analysis. The effect of genome-wide significant variants at the GFRA2 locus on expression of GFRA2 was assessed using mRNA expression studies in cerebellar tissue samples from the Mayo Clinic brain bank. The effect of the GFRA2 locus on progranulin concentrations was studied using previously generated ELISA-based expression data. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments in HEK293T cells were done to test for a direct interaction between GFRA2 and progranulin.

Findings: Individuals were enrolled in the current study between Sept 16, 2014, and Oct 5, 2017. After quality control measures, statistical analyses in the discovery stage included 382 unrelated symptomatic GRN mutation carriers and 1146 controls free of neurodegenerative disorders collected from 34 research centres located in the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe. In the replication stage, 210 patients (67 symptomatic GRN mutation carriers and 143 patients with FTLD without GRN mutations pathologically confirmed as FTLD-TDP type A) and 1798 controls free of neurodegenerative diseases were recruited from 26 sites, 20 of which overlapped with the discovery stage. No genome-wide significant association with age at onset was identified in the discovery or replication stages, or in the meta-analysis. However, in the case-control analysis, we replicated the previously reported TMEM106B association (rs1990622 meta-analysis odds ratio [OR] 0·54, 95% CI 0·46-0·63; p=3·54 × 10), and identified a novel genome-wide significant locus at GFRA2 on chromosome 8p21.3 associated with disease risk (rs36196656 meta-analysis OR 1·49, 95% CI 1·30-1·71; p=1·58 × 10). Expression analyses showed that the risk-associated allele at rs36196656 decreased GFRA2 mRNA concentrations in cerebellar tissue (p=0·04). No effect of rs36196656 on plasma and CSF progranulin concentrations was detected by ELISA; however, co-immunoprecipitation experiments in HEK293T cells did suggest a direct binding of progranulin and GFRA2.

Interpretation: TMEM106B-related and GFRA2-related pathways might be future targets for treatments for FTLD, but the biological interaction between progranulin and these potential disease modifiers requires further study. TMEM106B and GFRA2 might also provide opportunities to select and stratify patients for future clinical trials and, when more is known about their potential effects, to inform genetic counselling, especially for asymptomatic individuals.

Funding: National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Italian Ministry of Health, UK National Institute for Health Research, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and the French National Research Agency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30126-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6237181PMC
June 2018

CXCR4 involvement in neurodegenerative diseases.

Transl Psychiatry 2018 04 11;8(1):73. Epub 2018 Apr 11.

Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Neuroradiology Section, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Neurodegenerative diseases likely share common underlying pathobiology. Although prior work has identified susceptibility loci associated with various dementias, few, if any, studies have systematically evaluated shared genetic risk across several neurodegenerative diseases. Using genome-wide association data from large studies (total n = 82,337 cases and controls), we utilized a previously validated approach to identify genetic overlap and reveal common pathways between progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition to the MAPT H1 haplotype, we identified a variant near the chemokine receptor CXCR4 that was jointly associated with increased risk for PSP and PD. Using bioinformatics tools, we found strong physical interactions between CXCR4 and four microglia related genes, namely CXCL12, TLR2, RALB, and CCR5. Evaluating gene expression from post-mortem brain tissue, we found that expression of CXCR4 and microglial genes functionally related to CXCR4 was dysregulated across a number of neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, in a mouse model of tauopathy, expression of CXCR4 and functionally associated genes was significantly altered in regions of the mouse brain that accumulate neurofibrillary tangles most robustly. Beyond MAPT, we show dysregulation of CXCR4 expression in PSP, PD, and FTD brains, and mouse models of tau pathology. Our multi-modal findings suggest that abnormal signaling across a 'network' of microglial genes may contribute to neurodegeneration and may have potential implications for clinical trials targeting immune dysfunction in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-017-0049-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5893558PMC
April 2018

Selective Genetic Overlap Between Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Diseases of the Frontotemporal Dementia Spectrum.

JAMA Neurol 2018 07;75(7):860-875

Neuroradiology Section, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco.

Importance: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by loss of upper and lower motor neurons. Although novel ALS genetic variants have been identified, the shared genetic risk between ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders remains poorly understood.

Objectives: To examine whether there are common genetic variants that determine the risk for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases and to identify their functional pathways.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this study conducted from December 1, 2016, to August 1, 2017, the genetic overlap between ALS, sporadic frontotemporal dementia (FTD), FTD with TDP-43 inclusions, Parkinson disease (PD), Alzheimer disease (AD), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) were systematically investigated in 124 876 cases and controls. No participants were excluded from this study. Diagnoses were established using consensus criteria.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary outcomes were a list of novel loci and their functional pathways in ALS, FTD, PSP, and ALS mouse models.

Results: Among 124 876 cases and controls, genome-wide conjunction analyses of ALS, FTD, PD, AD, CBD, and PSP revealed significant genetic overlap between ALS and FTD at known ALS loci: rs13302855 and rs3849942 (nearest gene, C9orf72; P = .03 for rs13302855 and P = .005 for rs3849942) and rs4239633 (nearest gene, UNC13A; P = .03). Significant genetic overlap was also found between ALS and PSP at rs7224296, which tags the MAPT H1 haplotype (nearest gene, NSF; P = .045). Shared risk genes were enriched for pathways involving neuronal function and development. At a conditional FDR P < .05, 22 novel ALS polymorphisms were found, including rs538622 (nearest gene, ERGIC1; P = .03 for ALS and FTD), which modifies BNIP1 expression in human brains (35 of 137 females; mean age, 59 years; P = .001). BNIP1 expression was significantly reduced in spinal cord motor neurons from patients with ALS (4 controls: mean age, 60.5 years, mean [SE] value, 3984 [760.8] arbitrary units [AU]; 7 patients with ALS: mean age, 56 years, mean [SE] value, 1999 [274.1] AU; P = .02), in an ALS mouse model (mean [SE] value, 13.75 [0.09] AU for 2 SOD1 WT mice and 11.45 [0.03] AU for 2 SOD1 G93A mice; P = .002) and in brains of patients with PSP (80 controls: 39 females; mean age, 82 years, mean [SE] value, 6.8 [0.2] AU; 84 patients with PSP: 33 females, mean age 74 years, mean [SE] value, 6.8 [0.1] AU; β = -0.19; P = .009) or FTD (11 controls: 4 females; mean age, 67 years; mean [SE] value, 6.74 [0.05] AU; 17 patients with FTD: 10 females; mean age, 69 years; mean [SE] value, 6.53 [0.04] AU; P = .005).

Conclusions And Relevance: This study found novel genetic overlap between ALS and diseases of the FTD spectrum, that the MAPT H1 haplotype confers risk for ALS, and identified the mitophagy-associated, proapoptotic protein BNIP1 as an ALS risk gene. Together, these findings suggest that sporadic ALS may represent a selectively pleiotropic, polygenic disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.0372DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6043387PMC
July 2018

Comparative Protein Interaction Network Analysis Identifies Shared and Distinct Functions for the Human ROCO Proteins.

Proteomics 2018 05 17;18(10):e1700444. Epub 2018 Apr 17.

School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Whiteknights Campus, Reading, UK.

Signal transduction cascades governed by kinases and GTPases are a critical component of the command and control of cellular processes, with the precise outcome partly determined by direct protein-protein interactions (PPIs). Here, we use the human ROCO proteins as a model for investigating PPI signaling events-taking advantage of the unique dual kinase/GTPase activities and scaffolding properties of these multidomain proteins. PPI networks are reported that encompass the human ROCO proteins, developed using two complementary approaches. First, using the recently developed weighted PPI network analysis (WPPINA) pipeline, a confidence-weighted overview of validated ROCO protein interactors is obtained from peer-reviewed literature. Second, novel ROCO PPIs are assessed experimentally via protein microarray screens. The networks derived from these orthologous approaches are compared to identify common elements within the ROCO protein interactome; functional enrichment analysis of this common core of the network identified stress response and cell projection organization as shared functions within this protein family. Despite the presence of these commonalities, the results suggest that many unique interactors and therefore some specialized cellular roles have evolved for different members of the ROCO proteins. Overall, this multi-approach strategy to increase the resolution of protein interaction networks represents a prototype for the utility of PPI data integration in understanding signaling biology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/pmic.201700444DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992104PMC
May 2018

Immune-related genetic enrichment in frontotemporal dementia: An analysis of genome-wide association studies.

PLoS Med 2018 01 9;15(1):e1002487. Epub 2018 Jan 9.

Neuroradiology Section, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.

Background: Converging evidence suggests that immune-mediated dysfunction plays an important role in the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Although genetic studies have shown that immune-associated loci are associated with increased FTD risk, a systematic investigation of genetic overlap between immune-mediated diseases and the spectrum of FTD-related disorders has not been performed.

Methods And Findings: Using large genome-wide association studies (GWASs) (total n = 192,886 cases and controls) and recently developed tools to quantify genetic overlap/pleiotropy, we systematically identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) jointly associated with FTD-related disorders-namely, FTD, corticobasal degeneration (CBD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-and 1 or more immune-mediated diseases including Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis (UC), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes (T1D), celiac disease (CeD), and psoriasis. We found up to 270-fold genetic enrichment between FTD and RA, up to 160-fold genetic enrichment between FTD and UC, up to 180-fold genetic enrichment between FTD and T1D, and up to 175-fold genetic enrichment between FTD and CeD. In contrast, for CBD and PSP, only 1 of the 6 immune-mediated diseases produced genetic enrichment comparable to that seen for FTD, with up to 150-fold genetic enrichment between CBD and CeD and up to 180-fold enrichment between PSP and RA. Further, we found minimal enrichment between ALS and the immune-mediated diseases tested, with the highest levels of enrichment between ALS and RA (up to 20-fold). For FTD, at a conjunction false discovery rate < 0.05 and after excluding SNPs in linkage disequilibrium, we found that 8 of the 15 identified loci mapped to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region on Chromosome (Chr) 6. We also found novel candidate FTD susceptibility loci within LRRK2 (leucine rich repeat kinase 2), TBKBP1 (TBK1 binding protein 1), and PGBD5 (piggyBac transposable element derived 5). Functionally, we found that the expression of FTD-immune pleiotropic genes (particularly within the HLA region) is altered in postmortem brain tissue from patients with FTD and is enriched in microglia/macrophages compared to other central nervous system cell types. The main study limitation is that the results represent only clinically diagnosed individuals. Also, given the complex interconnectedness of the HLA region, we were not able to define the specific gene or genes on Chr 6 responsible for our pleiotropic signal.

Conclusions: We show immune-mediated genetic enrichment specifically in FTD, particularly within the HLA region. Our genetic results suggest that for a subset of patients, immune dysfunction may contribute to FTD risk. These findings have potential implications for clinical trials targeting immune dysfunction in patients with FTD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002487DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5760014PMC
January 2018

Mechanistic Origin of the Combined Effect of Surfaces and Mechanical Agitation on Amyloid Formation.

ACS Nano 2017 11 25;11(11):11358-11367. Epub 2017 Oct 25.

Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich , Vladimir Prelog Weg 1, 8093, Zurich, Switzerland.

Interactions between proteins and surfaces in combination with hydrodynamic flow and mechanical agitation can often trigger the conversion of soluble peptides and proteins into aggregates, including amyloid fibrils. Despite the extensive literature on the empirical effects of surfaces and mechanical forces on the formation of amyloids, the molecular details of the mechanisms underlying this behavior are still elusive. This limitation is, in part, due to the complex reaction network underlying the formation of amyloids, where several microscopic reactions of nucleation and growth can occur both at the interfaces and in bulk. In this work, we design a high-throughput assay based on nanoparticles and we apply a chemical kinetic platform to analyze the mechanisms underlying the effect of surfaces and mechanical forces on the formation of amyloid fibrils from human insulin under physiological conditions. By considering a variety of polymeric nanoparticles with different surface properties we explore a broad range of repulsive and attractive interactions between insulin and surfaces. Our analysis shows that hydrophobic interfaces induce the formation of amyloid fibrils by specifically promoting the primary heterogeneous nucleation rate. In contrast, mechanical forces accelerate the formation of amyloid fibrils by favoring mass transport and further amplify the number of fibrils by promoting fragmentation events. Thus, surfaces and agitation have a combined effect on the kinetics of protein aggregation observed at the macroscopic level but, individually, they each affect distinct microscopic reaction steps: the presence of interfaces generates primary nucleation events of fibril formation, which is then amplified by mechanical forces. These results suggest that the inhibition of surface-induced heterogeneous nucleation should be considered a primary target to suppress aggregation and explain why in many systems the simultaneous presence of surfaces and hydrodynamic flow enhances protein aggregation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.7b05895DOI Listing
November 2017

A novel network analysis approach reveals DNA damage, oxidative stress and calcium/cAMP homeostasis-associated biomarkers in frontotemporal dementia.

PLoS One 2017 11;12(10):e0185797. Epub 2017 Oct 11.

Department of Brain and Behavioural Sciences, Medical and Genomic Statistics Unit, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is the form of neurodegenerative dementia with the highest prevalence after Alzheimer's disease, equally distributed in men and women. It includes several variants, generally characterized by behavioural instability and language impairments. Although few mendelian genes (MAPT, GRN, and C9orf72) have been associated to the FTD phenotype, in most cases there is only evidence of multiple risk loci with relatively small effect size. To date, there are no comprehensive studies describing FTD at molecular level, highlighting possible genetic interactions and signalling pathways at the origin FTD-associated neurodegeneration. In this study, we designed a broad FTD genetic interaction map of the Italian population, through a novel network-based approach modelled on the concepts of disease-relevance and interaction perturbation, combining Steiner tree search and Structural Equation Model (SEM) analysis. Our results show a strong connection between Calcium/cAMP metabolism, oxidative stress-induced Serine/Threonine kinases activation, and postsynaptic membrane potentiation, suggesting a possible combination of neuronal damage and loss of neuroprotection, leading to cell death. In our model, Calcium/cAMP homeostasis and energetic metabolism impairments are primary causes of loss of neuroprotection and neural cell damage, respectively. Secondly, the altered postsynaptic membrane potentiation, due to the activation of stress-induced Serine/Threonine kinases, leads to neurodegeneration. Our study investigates the molecular underpinnings of these processes, evidencing key genes and gene interactions that may account for a significant fraction of unexplained FTD aetiology. We emphasized the key molecular actors in these processes, proposing them as novel FTD biomarkers that could be crucial for further epidemiological and molecular studies.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185797PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5636111PMC
October 2017