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See detailA Recurrent Missense Variant in AP2M1 Impairs Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis and Causes Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy.
Helbig, Ingo; Lopez-Hernandez, Tania; Shor, Oded et al

in American journal of human genetics (2019)

The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are heterogeneous disorders with a strong genetic contribution, but the underlying genetic etiology remains unknown in a significant proportion of ... [more ▼]

The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are heterogeneous disorders with a strong genetic contribution, but the underlying genetic etiology remains unknown in a significant proportion of individuals. To explore whether statistical support for genetic etiologies can be generated on the basis of phenotypic features, we analyzed whole-exome sequencing data and phenotypic similarities by using Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) in 314 individuals with DEEs. We identified a de novo c.508C>T (p.Arg170Trp) variant in AP2M1 in two individuals with a phenotypic similarity that was higher than expected by chance (p = 0.003) and a phenotype related to epilepsy with myoclonic-atonic seizures. We subsequently found the same de novo variant in two individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and generalized epilepsy in a cohort of 2,310 individuals who underwent diagnostic whole-exome sequencing. AP2M1 encodes the mu-subunit of the adaptor protein complex 2 (AP-2), which is involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) and synaptic vesicle recycling. Modeling of protein dynamics indicated that the p.Arg170Trp variant impairs the conformational activation and thermodynamic entropy of the AP-2 complex. Functional complementation of both the mu-subunit carrying the p.Arg170Trp variant in human cells and astrocytes derived from AP-2mu conditional knockout mice revealed a significant impairment of CME of transferrin. In contrast, stability, expression levels, membrane recruitment, and localization were not impaired, suggesting a functional alteration of the AP-2 complex as the underlying disease mechanism. We establish a recurrent pathogenic variant in AP2M1 as a cause of DEEs with distinct phenotypic features, and we implicate dysfunction of the early steps of endocytosis as a disease mechanism in epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailIntestinal-Cell Kinase and Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.
Lerche, Holger; Berkovic, Sam F.; Lowenstein, Daniel H. et al

in New England Journal of Medicine (2019), 380(16), 24

With regard to the article by Bailey et al. (March 15, 2018, issue) on the potential role of variants in the gene encoding intestinal cell kinase (ICK) in genetic generalized epilepsies, including ... [more ▼]

With regard to the article by Bailey et al. (March 15, 2018, issue) on the potential role of variants in the gene encoding intestinal cell kinase (ICK) in genetic generalized epilepsies, including juvenile myoclonic epilepsy: We attempted replication by rechecking for enrichment of ICK variants in two previously published analyses of mainly familial cases of genetic generalized epilepsy, which included a total of 1149 cases of genetic generalized epilepsy and 5911 ethnically matched controls. We analyzed the burden of single-gene rare variants with the use of whole exome sequencing data, applying population stratification and both sample and variant quality control. We found no evidence of an enrichment of ICK variants in genetic generalized epilepsies or juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Specifically, we did not detect a nonsynonymous variant in 357 persons with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy at a minor allele frequency at or below 0.1%. Although we cannot exclude the possibility that ICK variants may be population-specific risk factors for juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, the lack of validation in our cohorts does not support a true disease association but rather suggests that the authors’ results may be due to chance, possibly owing to methodologic issues (see the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). [less ▲]

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See detailBiallelic VARS variants cause developmental encephalopathy with microcephaly that is recapitulated in vars knockout zebrafish
Siekierska, Aleksandra; Stamberger, Hannah; Deconinck, Tine et al

in Nature Communications (2019), 10(1), 708

Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases (ARSs) link specific amino acids with their cognate transfer RNAs in a critical early step of protein translation. Mutations in ARSs have emerged as a cause of recessive, often ... [more ▼]

Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases (ARSs) link specific amino acids with their cognate transfer RNAs in a critical early step of protein translation. Mutations in ARSs have emerged as a cause of recessive, often complex neurological disease traits. Here we report an allelic series consisting of seven novel and two previously reported biallelic variants in valyl-tRNA synthetase (VARS) in ten patients with a developmental encephalopathy with microcephaly, often associated with early-onset epilepsy. In silico, in vitro, and yeast complementation assays demonstrate that the underlying pathomechanism of these mutations is most likely a loss of protein function. Zebrafish modeling accurately recapitulated some of the key neurological disease traits. These results provide both genetic and biological insights into neurodevelopmental disease and pave the way for further in-depth research on ARS related recessive disorders and precision therapies. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Luxembourg Parkinson’s Study: A Comprehensive Approach for Stratification and Early Diagnosis
Hipp Epouse D'amico, Géraldine UL; Vaillant, Michel; Diederich, Nico J. et al

in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2018), 10

While genetic advances have successfully defined part of the complexity in Parkinson’s disease (PD), the clinical characterization of phenotypes remains challenging. Therapeutic trials and cohort studies ... [more ▼]

While genetic advances have successfully defined part of the complexity in Parkinson’s disease (PD), the clinical characterization of phenotypes remains challenging. Therapeutic trials and cohort studies typically include patients with earlier disease stages and exclude comorbidities, thus ignoring a substantial part of the real-world PD population. To account for these limitations, we implemented the Luxembourg PD study as a comprehensive clinical, molecular and device-based approach including patients with typical PD and atypical parkinsonism, irrespective of their disease stage, age, comorbidities, or linguistic background. To provide a large, longitudinally followed, and deeply phenotyped set of patients and controls for clinical and fundamental research on PD, we implemented an open-source digital platform that can be harmonized with international PD cohort studies. Our interests also reflect Luxembourg-specific areas of PD research, including vision, gait, and cognition. This effort is flanked by comprehensive biosampling efforts assuring high quality and sustained availability of body liquids and tissue biopsies. We provide evidence for the feasibility of such a cohort program with deep phenotyping and high quality biosampling on parkinsonism in an environment with structural specificities and alert the international research community to our willingness to collaborate with other centers. The combination of advanced clinical phenotyping approaches including device-based assessment will create a comprehensive assessment of the disease and its variants, its interaction with comorbidities and its progression. We envision the Luxembourg Parkinson’s study as an important research platform for defining early diagnosis and progression markers that translate into stratified treatment approaches. [less ▲]

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See detailSingle-cell transcriptomics reveals distinct inflammation-induced microglia signatures
Sousa, Carole UL; Golebiewska, Anna; Poovathingal, Suresh K et al

in EMBO Reports (2018)

Microglia are specialized parenchymal‐resident phagocytes of the central nervous system (CNS) that actively support, defend and modulate the neural environment. Dysfunctional microglial responses are ... [more ▼]

Microglia are specialized parenchymal‐resident phagocytes of the central nervous system (CNS) that actively support, defend and modulate the neural environment. Dysfunctional microglial responses are thought to worsen CNS diseases; nevertheless, their impact during neuroinflammatory processes remains largely obscure. Here, using a combination of single‐cell RNA sequencing and multicolour flow cytometry, we comprehensively profile microglia in the brain of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)‐injected mice. By excluding the contribution of other immune CNS‐resident and peripheral cells, we show that microglia isolated from LPS‐injected mice display a global downregulation of their homeostatic signature together with an upregulation of inflammatory genes. Notably, we identify distinct microglial activated profiles under inflammatory conditions, which greatly differ from neurodegenerative disease‐associated profiles. These results provide insights into microglial heterogeneity and establish a resource for the identification of specific phenotypes in CNS disorders, such as neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. [less ▲]

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See detailRare gene deletions in genetic generalized and Rolandic epilepsies
Jabbari, Kamel; Bobbili, Dheeraj Reddy UL; Lal, Dennis et al

in PLoS ONE (2018)

Genetic Generalized Epilepsy (GGE) and benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes or Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) are common forms of genetic epilepsies. Rare copy number variants have been recognized as ... [more ▼]

Genetic Generalized Epilepsy (GGE) and benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes or Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) are common forms of genetic epilepsies. Rare copy number variants have been recognized as important risk factors in brain disorders. We performed a systematic survey of rare deletions affecting protein-coding genes derived from exome data of patients with common forms of genetic epilepsies. We analysed exomes from 390 European patients (196 GGE and 194 RE) and 572 population controls to identify low-frequency genic deletions. We found that 75 (32 GGE and 43 RE) patients out of 390, i.e. ~19%, carried rare genic deletions. In particular, large deletions (>400 kb) represent a higher burden in both GGE and RE syndromes as compared to controls. The detected low-frequency deletions (1) share genes with brain-expressed exons that are under negative selection, (2) overlap with known autism and epilepsy-associated candidate genes, (3) are enriched for CNV intolerant genes recorded by the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC) and (4) coincide with likely disruptive de novo mutations from the NPdenovo database. Employing several knowledge databases, we discuss the most prominent epilepsy candidate genes and their protein-protein networks for GGE and RE. [less ▲]

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See detailRare coding variants in genes encoding GABAA receptors in genetic generalised epilepsies: an exome-based case-control study
May, Patrick UL; Girard, Simon; Harrer, Merle et al

in Lancet Neurology (2018), 17(8), 699-708

Background Genetic generalised epilepsy is the most common type of inherited epilepsy. Despite a high concordance rate of 80% in monozygotic twins, the genetic background is still poorly understood. We ... [more ▼]

Background Genetic generalised epilepsy is the most common type of inherited epilepsy. Despite a high concordance rate of 80% in monozygotic twins, the genetic background is still poorly understood. We aimed to investigate the burden of rare genetic variants in genetic generalised epilepsy. Methods For this exome-based case-control study, we used three different genetic generalised epilepsy case cohorts and three independent control cohorts, all of European descent. Cases included in the study were clinically evaluated for genetic generalised epilepsy. Whole-exome sequencing was done for the discovery case cohort, a validation case cohort, and two independent control cohorts. The replication case cohort underwent targeted next-generation sequencing of the 19 known genes encoding subunits of GABAA receptors and was compared to the respective GABAA receptor variants of a third independent control cohort. Functional investigations were done with automated two-microelectrode voltage clamping in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Findings Statistical comparison of 152 familial index cases with genetic generalised epilepsy in the discovery cohort to 549 ethnically matched controls suggested an enrichment of rare missense (Nonsyn) variants in the ensemble of 19 genes encoding GABAA receptors in cases (odds ratio [OR] 2·40 [95% CI 1·41–4·10]; pNonsyn=0·0014, adjusted pNonsyn=0·019). Enrichment for these genes was validated in a whole-exome sequencing cohort of 357 sporadic and familial genetic generalised epilepsy cases and 1485 independent controls (OR 1·46 [95% CI 1·05–2·03]; pNonsyn=0·0081, adjusted pNonsyn=0·016). Comparison of genes encoding GABAA receptors in the independent replication cohort of 583 familial and sporadic genetic generalised epilepsy index cases, based on candidate-gene panel sequencing, with a third independent control cohort of 635 controls confirmed the overall enrichment of rare missense variants for 15 GABAA receptor genes in cases compared with controls (OR 1·46 [95% CI 1·02–2·08]; pNonsyn=0·013, adjusted pNonsyn=0·027). Functional studies for two selected genes (GABRB2 and GABRA5) showed significant loss-of-function effects with reduced current amplitudes in four of seven tested variants compared with wild-type receptors. Interpretation Functionally relevant variants in genes encoding GABAA receptor subunits constitute a significant risk factor for genetic generalised epilepsy. Examination of the role of specific gene groups and pathways can disentangle the complex genetic architecture of genetic generalised epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailA rare loss-of function variant of ADAM17 is associated with late-onset familial Alzheimer disease
Hartl, Daniela; May, Patrick UL; Gu, Wei UL et al

in Molecular Psychiatry (2018)

Common variants of about 20 genes contributing to AD risk have so far been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS). However, there is still a large proportion of heritability that might ... [more ▼]

Common variants of about 20 genes contributing to AD risk have so far been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS). However, there is still a large proportion of heritability that might be explained by rare but functionally important variants. One of the so far identified genes with rare AD causing variants is ADAM10. Using whole-genome sequencing we now identified a single rare nonsynonymous variant (SNV) rs142946965 [p.R215I] in ADAM17 co-segregating with an autosomal-dominant pattern of late-onset AD in one family. Subsequent genotyping and analysis of available whole-exome sequencing data of additional case/control samples from Germany, the UK and the USA identified five variant carriers among AD patients only. The mutation inhibits pro-protein cleavage and the formation of the active enzyme, thus leading to loss-of-function of ADAM17 α-secretase. Further, we identified a strong negative correlation between ADAM17 and APP gene expression in human brain and present in vitro evidence that ADAM17 negatively controls the expression of APP. As a consequence, p.R215I mutation of ADAM17 leads to elevated Aß formation in vitro. Together our data supports a causative association of the identified ADAM17 variant in the pathogenesis of AD. [less ▲]

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See detailRare ABCA7 variants in 2 German families with Alzheimer disease
May, Patrick UL; Pichler, Sabrina; Hartl, Daniela et al

in Neurology Genetics (2018), 4(2),

Objective The aim of this study was to identify variants associated with familial late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) using whole-genome sequencing. Methods Several families with an autosomal dominant ... [more ▼]

Objective The aim of this study was to identify variants associated with familial late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) using whole-genome sequencing. Methods Several families with an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern of AD were analyzed by whole-genome sequencing. Variants were prioritized for rare, likely pathogenic variants in genes already known to be associated with AD and confirmed by Sanger sequencing using standard protocols. Results We identified 2 rare ABCA7 variants (rs143718918 and rs538591288) with varying penetrance in 2 independent German AD families, respectively. The single nucleotide variant (SNV) rs143718918 causes a missense mutation, and the deletion rs538591288 causes a frameshift mutation of ABCA7. Both variants have previously been reported in larger cohorts but with incomplete segregation information. ABCA7 is one of more than 20 AD risk loci that have so far been identified by genome-wide association studies, and both common and rare variants of ABCA7 have previously been described in different populations with higher frequencies in AD cases than in controls and varying penetrance. Furthermore, ABCA7 is known to be involved in several AD-relevant pathways. Conclusions We conclude that both SNVs might contribute to the development of AD in the examined family members. Together with previous findings, our data confirm ABCA7 as one of the most relevant AD risk genes. [less ▲]

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See detailExome-wide analysis of mutational burden in patients with typical and atypical Rolandic Epilepsy
Bobbili, Dheeraj Reddy UL; Lal, Dennis; May, Patrick UL et al

in European Journal of Human Genetics (2018)

Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) is the most common focal epilepsy in childhood. To date no hypothesis-free exome-wide mutational screen has been conducted for RE and Atypical RE (ARE). Here we report on whole ... [more ▼]

Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) is the most common focal epilepsy in childhood. To date no hypothesis-free exome-wide mutational screen has been conducted for RE and Atypical RE (ARE). Here we report on whole-exome sequencing of 194 unrelated patients with RE/ARE and 567 ethnically matched population controls. We identified an exome-wide significantly enriched burden for deleterious and loss-of-function variants only for the established RE/ARE gene GRIN2A. The statistical significance of the enrichment disappeared after removing ARE patients. For several disease-related gene-sets, an odds ratio > 1 was detected for loss-of-function variants. [less ▲]

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See detailCommunity-driven roadmap for integrated disease maps.
Ostaszewski, Marek UL; Gebel, Stephan UL; Kuperstein, Inna et al

in Briefings in bioinformatics (2018)

The Disease Maps Project builds on a network of scientific and clinical groups that exchange best practices, share information and develop systems biomedicine tools. The project aims for an integrated ... [more ▼]

The Disease Maps Project builds on a network of scientific and clinical groups that exchange best practices, share information and develop systems biomedicine tools. The project aims for an integrated, highly curated and user-friendly platform for disease-related knowledge. The primary focus of disease maps is on interconnected signaling, metabolic and gene regulatory network pathways represented in standard formats. The involvement of domain experts ensures that the key disease hallmarks are covered and relevant, up-to-date knowledge is adequately represented. Expert-curated and computer readable, disease maps may serve as a compendium of knowledge, allow for data-supported hypothesis generation or serve as a scaffold for the generation of predictive mathematical models. This article summarizes the 2nd Disease Maps Community meeting, highlighting its important topics and outcomes. We outline milestones on the roadmap for the future development of disease maps, including creating and maintaining standardized disease maps; sharing parts of maps that encode common human disease mechanisms; providing technical solutions for complexity management of maps; and Web tools for in-depth exploration of such maps. A dedicated discussion was focused on mathematical modeling approaches, as one of the main goals of disease map development is the generation of mathematically interpretable representations to predict disease comorbidity or drug response and to suggest drug repositioning, altogether supporting clinical decisions. [less ▲]

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See detailA roadmap towards personalized immunology.
Delhalle, Sylvie; Bode, Sebastian F. N.; Balling, Rudi UL et al

in NPJ systems biology and applications (2018), 4

Big data generation and computational processing will enable medicine to evolve from a "one-size-fits-all" approach to precise patient stratification and treatment. Significant achievements using "Omics ... [more ▼]

Big data generation and computational processing will enable medicine to evolve from a "one-size-fits-all" approach to precise patient stratification and treatment. Significant achievements using "Omics" data have been made especially in personalized oncology. However, immune cells relative to tumor cells show a much higher degree of complexity in heterogeneity, dynamics, memory-capability, plasticity and "social" interactions. There is still a long way ahead on translating our capability to identify potentially targetable personalized biomarkers into effective personalized therapy in immune-centralized diseases. Here, we discuss the recent advances and successful applications in "Omics" data utilization and network analysis on patients' samples of clinical trials and studies, as well as the major challenges and strategies towards personalized stratification and treatment for infectious or non-communicable inflammatory diseases such as autoimmune diseases or allergies. We provide a roadmap and highlight experimental, clinical, computational analysis, data management, ethical and regulatory issues to accelerate the implementation of personalized immunology. [less ▲]

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See detailSystems medicine disease maps: community-driven comprehensive representation of disease mechanisms.
Mazein, Alexander; Ostaszewski, Marek UL; Kuperstein, Inna et al

in NPJ systems biology and applications (2018), 4

The development of computational approaches in systems biology has reached a state of maturity that allows their transition to systems medicine. Despite this progress, intuitive visualisation and context ... [more ▼]

The development of computational approaches in systems biology has reached a state of maturity that allows their transition to systems medicine. Despite this progress, intuitive visualisation and context-dependent knowledge representation still present a major bottleneck. In this paper, we describe the Disease Maps Project, an effort towards a community-driven computationally readable comprehensive representation of disease mechanisms. We outline the key principles and the framework required for the success of this initiative, including use of best practices, standards and protocols. We apply a modular approach to ensure efficient sharing and reuse of resources for projects dedicated to specific diseases. Community-wide use of disease maps will accelerate the conduct of biomedical research and lead to new disease ontologies defined from mechanism-based disease endotypes rather than phenotypes. [less ▲]

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See detailPresenting and Sharing Clinical Data using the eTRIKS Standards Master Tree for tranSMART
Barbosa-Silva, Adriano; Bratfalean, Dorina; Gu, Wei UL et al

in Bioinformatics (2018)

Motivation Standardization and semantic alignment have been considered one of the major challenges for data integration in clinical research. The inclusion of the CDISC SDTM clinical data standard into ... [more ▼]

Motivation Standardization and semantic alignment have been considered one of the major challenges for data integration in clinical research. The inclusion of the CDISC SDTM clinical data standard into the tranSMART i2b2 via a guiding master ontology tree positively impacts and supports the efficacy of data sharing, visualization and exploration across datasets. Results We present here a schema for the organization of SDTM variables into the tranSMART i2b2 tree along with a script and test dataset to exemplify the mapping strategy. The eTRIKS master tree concept is demonstrated by making use of fictitious data generated for four patients, including 16 SDTM clinical domains. We describe how the usage of correct visit names and data labels can help to integrate multiple readouts per patient and avoid ETL crashes when running a tranSMART loading routine. Availability The eTRIKS Master Tree package and test datasets are publicly available at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1009098 and a functional demo installation at https://public.etriks.org/transmart/datasetExplorer/ under eTRIKS - Master Tree branch, where the discussed examples can be visualized. [less ▲]

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See detailRare GABRA3 variants are associated with epileptic seizures, encephalopathy and dysmorphic features
Niturad, Elena Christina; Lev, Dorit; Kalscheuer, Vera M et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2017), 140(11), 2879-2894

Genetic epilepsies are caused by mutations in a range of different genes, many of them encoding ion channels, receptors or transporters. While the number of detected variants and genes increased ... [more ▼]

Genetic epilepsies are caused by mutations in a range of different genes, many of them encoding ion channels, receptors or transporters. While the number of detected variants and genes increased dramatically in the recent years, pleiotropic effects have also been recognized, revealing that clinical syndromes with various degrees of severity arise from a single gene, a single mutation, or from different mutations showing similar functional defects. Accordingly, several genes coding for GABAA receptor subunits have been linked to a spectrum of benign to severe epileptic disorders and it was shown that a loss of function presents the major correlated pathomechanism. Here, we identified six variants in GABRA3 encoding the α3-subunit of the GABAA receptor. This gene is located on chromosome Xq28 and has not been previously associated with human disease. Five missense variants and one microduplication were detected in four families and two sporadic cases presenting with a range of epileptic seizure types, a varying degree of intellectual disability and developmental delay, sometimes with dysmorphic features or nystagmus. The variants co-segregated mostly but not completely with the phenotype in the families, indicating in some cases incomplete penetrance, involvement of other genes, or presence of phenocopies. Overall, males were more severely affected and there were three asymptomatic female mutation carriers compared to only one male without a clinical phenotype. X-chromosome inactivation studies could not explain the phenotypic variability in females. Three detected missense variants are localized in the extracellular GABA-binding NH2-terminus, one in the M2-M3 linker and one in the M4 transmembrane segment of the α3-subunit. Functional studies in Xenopus laevis oocytes revealed a variable but significant reduction of GABA-evoked anion currents for all mutants compared to wild-type receptors. The degree of current reduction correlated partially with the phenotype. The microduplication disrupted GABRA3 expression in fibroblasts of the affected patient. In summary, our results reveal that rare loss-of-function variants in GABRA3 increase the risk for a varying combination of epilepsy, intellectual disability/developmental delay and dysmorphic features, presenting in some pedigrees with an X-linked inheritance pattern. [less ▲]

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See detailAlterations in the α2δ ligand, thrombospondin-1, in a rat model of spontaneous absence epilepsy and in patients with idiopathic/genetic generalized epilepsies
Santolini, Ines; Celli, Roberta; Cannella, Milena et al

in Epilepsia (2017)

OBJECTIVES: Thrombospondins, which are known to interact with the α2 δ subunit of voltage-sensitive calcium channels to stimulate the formation of excitatory synapses, have recently been implicated in the ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVES: Thrombospondins, which are known to interact with the α2 δ subunit of voltage-sensitive calcium channels to stimulate the formation of excitatory synapses, have recently been implicated in the process of epileptogenesis. No studies have been so far performed on thrombospondins in models of absence epilepsy. We examined whether expression of the gene encoding for thrombospondin-1 was altered in the brain of WAG/Rij rats, which model absence epilepsy in humans. In addition, we examined the frequency of genetic variants of THBS1 in a large cohort of children affected by idiopathic/genetic generalized epilepsies (IGE/GGEs). METHODS: We measured the transcripts of thrombospondin-1 and α2 δ subunit, and protein levels of α2 δ, Rab3A, and the vesicular glutamate transporter, VGLUT1, in the somatosensory cortex and ventrobasal thalamus of presymptomatic and symptomatic WAG/Rij rats and in two control strains by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunoblotting. We examined the genetic variants of THBS1 and CACNA2D1 in two independent cohorts of patients affected by IGE/GGE recruited through the Genetic Commission of the Italian League Against Epilepsy (LICE) and the EuroEPINOMICS-CoGIE Consortium. RESULTS: Thrombospondin-1 messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were largely reduced in the ventrobasal thalamus of both presymptomatic and symptomatic WAG/Rij rats, whereas levels in the somatosensory cortex were unchanged. VGLUT1 protein levels were also reduced in the ventrobasal thalamus of WAG/Rij rats. Genetic variants of THBS1 were significantly more frequent in patients affected by IGE/GGE than in nonepileptic controls, whereas the frequency of CACNA2D1 was unchanged. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings suggest that thrombospondin-1 may have a role in the pathogenesis of IGE/GGEs. [less ▲]

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See detailEmbryonic development of selectively vulnerable neurons in Parkinson’s disease
Oliveira, Miguel UL; Balling, Rudi UL; Smidt, Marten et al

in NPJ Parkinson's Disease (2017), 3

A specific set of brainstem nuclei are susceptible to degeneration in Parkinson’s disease. We hypothesise that neuronal vulnerability reflects shared phenotypic characteristics that confer selective ... [more ▼]

A specific set of brainstem nuclei are susceptible to degeneration in Parkinson’s disease. We hypothesise that neuronal vulnerability reflects shared phenotypic characteristics that confer selective vulnerability to degeneration. Neuronal phenotypic specification is mainly the cumulative result of a transcriptional regulatory program that is active during the development. By manual curation of the developmental biology literature, we comprehensively reconstructed an anatomically resolved cellular developmental lineage for the adult neurons in five brainstem regions that are selectively vulnerable to degeneration in prodromal or early Parkinson’s disease. We synthesised the literature on transcription factors that are required to be active, or required to be inactive, in the development of each of these five brainstem regions, and at least two differentially vulnerable nuclei within each region. Certain transcription factors, e.g., Ascl1 and Lmx1b, seem to be required for specification of many brainstem regions that are susceptible to degeneration in early Parkinson’s disease. Some transcription factors can even distinguish between differentially vulnerable nuclei within the same brain region, e.g., Pitx3 is required for specification of the substantia nigra pars compacta, but not the ventral tegmental area. We do not suggest that Parkinson’s disease is a developmental disorder. In contrast, we consider identification of shared developmental trajectories as part of a broader effort to identify the molecular mechanisms that underlie the phenotypic features that are shared by selectively vulnerable neurons. Systematic in vivo assessment of fate determining transcription factors should be completed for all neuronal populations vulnerable to degeneration in early Parkinson’s disease. [less ▲]

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See detailApplication of rare variant transmission disequilibrium tests to epileptic encephalopathy trio sequence data
Allen, Andrew S.; Berkovic, Samuel F.; Bridgers, Joshua et al

in European Journal of Human Genetics (2017)

The classic epileptic encephalopathies, including infantile spasms (IS) and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS), are severe seizure disorders that usually arise sporadically. De novo variants in genes mainly ... [more ▼]

The classic epileptic encephalopathies, including infantile spasms (IS) and Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS), are severe seizure disorders that usually arise sporadically. De novo variants in genes mainly encoding ion channel and synaptic proteins have been found to account for over 15% of patients with IS or LGS. The contribution of autosomal recessive genetic variation, however, is less well understood. We implemented a rare variant transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) to search for autosomal recessive epileptic encephalopathy genes in a cohort of 320 outbred patient–parent trios that were generally prescreened for rare metabolic disorders. In the current sample, our rare variant transmission disequilibrium test did not identify individual genes with significantly distorted transmission over expectation after correcting for the multiple tests. While the rare variant transmission disequilibrium test did not find evidence of a role for individual autosomal recessive genes, our current sample is insufficiently powered to assess the overall role of autosomal recessive genotypes in an outbred epileptic encephalopathy population. [less ▲]

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See detailNeuroChip, an updated version of the NeuroX genotyping platform to rapidly screen for variants associated with neurological diseases
Blauwendraat, Cornelis; Faghri, Faraz; Pihlstrom, Lasse et al

in Neurobiology of Aging (2017)

Genetics has proven to be a powerful approach in neurodegenerative diseases research, resulting in the identification of numerous causal and risk variants. Previously, we introduced the NeuroX Illumina ... [more ▼]

Genetics has proven to be a powerful approach in neurodegenerative diseases research, resulting in the identification of numerous causal and risk variants. Previously, we introduced the NeuroX Illumina genotyping array, a fast and efficient genotyping platform designed for the investigation of genetic variation in neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we present its updated version, named NeuroChip. The NeuroChip is a low cost, custom-designed array containing a tagging variant backbone of about 306,670 variants complemented with a manually curated custom content comprised of 179,467 variants implicated in diverse neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and multiple system atrophy. The tagging backbone was chosen because of the low cost and good genome-wide resolution; the custom content can be combined with other backbones, like population or drug development arrays. Using the NeuroChip, we can accurately identify rare variants and impute over 5.3 million common SNPs from the latest release of the Haplotype Reference Consortium. In summary, we describe the design and usage of the NeuroChip array, and show its capability for detecting rare pathogenic variants in numerous neurodegenerative diseases. The NeuroChip has a more comprehensive and improved content, which makes it a reliable, high-throughput, cost-effective screening tool for genetic research and molecular diagnostics in neurodegenerative diseases. [less ▲]

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