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See detailReply: No evidence for rare TRAP1 mutations influencing the risk of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease
Fitzgerald, Julia C.; Zimprich, Alexander; Bobbili, Dheeraj Reddy UL et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2018)

Sir, In their letter in this issue, Gaare and colleagues (2018) state that TRAP1 may not be a Parkinson’s disease gene because of lack of genetic association. In response, we welcome their data analyses ... [more ▼]

Sir, In their letter in this issue, Gaare and colleagues (2018) state that TRAP1 may not be a Parkinson’s disease gene because of lack of genetic association. In response, we welcome their data analyses and we welcome any further genetic analyses of TRAP1 variants in additional Parkinson’s disease genetic datasets, including the reanalysis of open access datasets such as the Parkinson’s Progressive Markers Initiative (PPMI). Our point of view is that TRAP1 is an interesting effector protein that our study unequivocally showed is relevant to Parkinson’s disease signaling in the context of mitochondrial regulation. Furthermore, the overall contribution of TRAP1 genetic variants to Parkinson’s disease was not the focus of our recent paper in Brain (Fitzgerald et al., 2017). [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 detailMetformin reverses TRAP1 mutation-associated alterations in mitochondrial function in Parkinson's disease
Fitzgerald, Julia C.; Zimprich, Alexander; Carvajal-Berrio, Daniel A. et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2017), 140(9), 2444-2459

The mitochondrial proteins TRAP1 and HtrA2 have previously been shown to be phosphorylated in the presence of the Parkinson’s disease kinase PINK1 but the downstream signaling is unclear. HtrA2 and PINK1 ... [more ▼]

The mitochondrial proteins TRAP1 and HtrA2 have previously been shown to be phosphorylated in the presence of the Parkinson’s disease kinase PINK1 but the downstream signaling is unclear. HtrA2 and PINK1 loss of function causes parkinsonism in humans and animals. Here, we identified TRAP1 as an interactor of HtrA2 using an unbiased mass spectrometry approach. In our human cell models, TRAP1 overexpression is protective, rescuing HtrA2 and PINK1-associated mitochondrial dysfunction and suggesting that TRAP1 acts downstream of HtrA2 and PINK1. HtrA2 regulates TRAP1 protein levels, but TRAP1 is not a direct target of HtrA2 protease activity. Following genetic screening of Parkinson’s disease patients and healthy controls, we also report the first TRAP1 mutation leading to complete loss of functional protein in a patient with late onset Parkinson’s disease. Analysis of fibroblasts derived from the patient reveal that oxygen consumption, ATP output and reactive oxygen species are increased compared to healthy individuals. This is coupled with an increased pool of free NADH, increased mitochondrial biogenesis, triggering of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and sensitivity to mitochondrial removal and apoptosis. These data highlight the role of TRAP1 in the regulation of energy metabolism and mitochondrial quality control. Interestingly, the diabetes drug metformin reverses mutation-associated alterations on energy metabolism, mitochondrial biogenesis and restores mitochondrial membrane potential. In summary, our data show that TRAP1 acts downstream of PINK1 and HtrA2 for mitochondrial fine tuning, whereas TRAP1 loss of function leads to reduced control of energy metabolism, ultimately impacting mitochondrial membrane potential. These findings offer new insight into mitochondrial pathologies in Parkinson’s disease and provide new prospects for targeted therapies. [less ▲]

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See detailLoss of SYNJ1 dual phosphatase activity leads to early onset refractory seizures and progressive neurological decline
Hardies, Katia; Cai, Yiying; Jardel, Claude et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2016)

SYNJ1 encodes a polyphosphoinositide phosphatase, synaptojanin 1, which contains two consecutive phosphatase domains and plays a prominent role in synaptic vesicle dynamics. Autosomal recessive inherited ... [more ▼]

SYNJ1 encodes a polyphosphoinositide phosphatase, synaptojanin 1, which contains two consecutive phosphatase domains and plays a prominent role in synaptic vesicle dynamics. Autosomal recessive inherited variants in SYNJ1 have previously been associated with two different neurological diseases: a recurrent homozygous missense variant (p.Arg258Gln) that abolishes Sac1 phosphatase activity was identified in three independent families with early onset parkinsonism, whereas a homozygous nonsense variant (p.Arg136*) causing a severe decrease of mRNA transcript was found in a single patient with intractable epilepsy and tau pathology. We performed whole exome or genome sequencing in three independent sib pairs with early onset refractory seizures and progressive neurological decline, and identified novel segregating recessive SYNJ1 defects. A homozygous missense variant resulting in an amino acid substitution (p.Tyr888Cys) was found to impair, but not abolish, the dual phosphatase activity of SYNJ1, whereas three premature stop variants (homozygote p.Trp843* and compound heterozygote p.Gln647Argfs*6/p.Ser1122Thrfs*3) almost completely abolished mRNA transcript production. A genetic follow-up screening in a large cohort of 543 patients with a wide phenotypical range of epilepsies and intellectual disability revealed no additional pathogenic variants, showing that SYNJ1 deficiency is rare and probably linked to a specific phenotype. While variants leading to early onset parkinsonism selectively abolish Sac1 function, our results provide evidence that a critical reduction of the dual phosphatase activity of SYNJ1 underlies a severe disorder with neonatal refractory epilepsy and a neurodegenerative disease course. These findings further expand the clinical spectrum of synaptic dysregulation in patients with severe epilepsy, and emphasize the importance of this biological pathway in seizure pathophysiology. [less ▲]

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See detailRecessive mutations in SLC13A5 result in a loss of citrate transport and cause neonatal epilepsy, developmental delay and teeth hypoplasia
Hardies, Katia; de Kovel, Carolien G.F.; Weckhuysen, Sarah et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2015)

The epileptic encephalopathies are a clinically and aetiologically heterogeneous subgroup of epilepsy syndromes. Most epileptic encephalopathies have a genetic cause and patients are often found to carry ... [more ▼]

The epileptic encephalopathies are a clinically and aetiologically heterogeneous subgroup of epilepsy syndromes. Most epileptic encephalopathies have a genetic cause and patients are often found to carry a heterozygous de novo mutation in one of the genes associated with the disease entity. Occasionally recessive mutations are identified: a recent publication described a distinct neonatal epileptic encephalopathy (MIM 615905) caused by autosomal recessive mutations in the SLC13A5 gene. Here, we report eight additional patients belonging to four different families with autosomal recessive mutations in SLC13A5. SLC13A5 encodes a high affinity sodium-dependent citrate transporter, which is expressed in the brain. Neurons are considered incapable of de novo synthesis of tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates; therefore they rely on the uptake of intermediates, such as citrate, to maintain their energy status and neurotransmitter production. The effect of all seven identified mutations (two premature stops and five amino acid substitutions) was studied in vitro, using immunocytochemistry, selective western blot and mass spectrometry. We hereby demonstrate that cells expressing mutant sodium-dependent citrate transporter have a complete loss of citrate uptake due to various cellular loss-of-function mechanisms. In addition, we provide independent proof of the involvement of autosomal recessive SLC13A5 mutations in the development of neonatal epileptic encephalopathies, and highlight teeth hypoplasia as a possible indicator for SLC13A5 screening. All three patients who tried the ketogenic diet responded well to this treatment, and future studies will allow us to ascertain whether this is a recurrent feature in this severe disorder. [less ▲]

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See detailSubthalamic stimulation modulates cortical motor network activity and synchronization in Parkinson's disease
Weiss, D.; Klotz, R.; Govindan, R. B. et al

in Brain : a journal of neurology (2015), 138(Pt 3), 679-93

Dynamic modulations of large-scale network activity and synchronization are inherent to a broad spectrum of cognitive processes and are disturbed in neuropsychiatric conditions including Parkinson's ... [more ▼]

Dynamic modulations of large-scale network activity and synchronization are inherent to a broad spectrum of cognitive processes and are disturbed in neuropsychiatric conditions including Parkinson's disease. Here, we set out to address the motor network activity and synchronization in Parkinson's disease and its modulation with subthalamic stimulation. To this end, 20 patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease with subthalamic nucleus stimulation were analysed on externally cued right hand finger movements with 1.5-s interstimulus interval. Simultaneous recordings were obtained from electromyography on antagonistic muscles (right flexor digitorum and extensor digitorum) together with 64-channel electroencephalography. Time-frequency event-related spectral perturbations were assessed to determine cortical and muscular activity. Next, cross-spectra in the time-frequency domain were analysed to explore the cortico-cortical synchronization. The time-frequency modulations enabled us to select a time-frequency range relevant for motor processing. On these time-frequency windows, we developed an extension of the phase synchronization index to quantify the global cortico-cortical synchronization and to obtain topographic differentiations of distinct electrode sites with respect to their contributions to the global phase synchronization index. The spectral measures were used to predict clinical and reaction time outcome using regression analysis. We found that movement-related desynchronization of cortical activity in the upper alpha and beta range was significantly facilitated with 'stimulation on' compared to 'stimulation off' on electrodes over the bilateral parietal, sensorimotor, premotor, supplementary-motor, and prefrontal areas, including the bilateral inferior prefrontal areas. These spectral modulations enabled us to predict both clinical and reaction time improvement from subthalamic stimulation. With 'stimulation on', interhemispheric cortico-cortical coherence in the beta band was significantly attenuated over the bilateral sensorimotor areas. Similarly, the global cortico-cortical phase synchronization was attenuated, and the topographic differentiation revealed stronger desynchronization over the (ipsilateral) right-hemispheric prefrontal, premotor and sensorimotor areas compared to 'stimulation off'. We further demonstrated that the cortico-cortical phase synchronization was largely dominated by genuine neuronal coupling. The clinical improvement with 'stimulation on' compared to 'stimulation off' could be predicted from this cortical decoupling with multiple regressions, and the reduction of synchronization over the right prefrontal area showed a linear univariate correlation with clinical improvement. Our study demonstrates wide-spread activity and synchronization modulations of the cortical motor network, and highlights subthalamic stimulation as a network-modulating therapy. Accordingly, subthalamic stimulation may release bilateral cortical computational resources by facilitating movement-related desynchronization. Moreover, the subthalamic nucleus is critical to balance inhibitory and facilitatory cortical players within the motor program. [less ▲]

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See detailAre patients with Parkinson’s disease blind to blindsight?
Diederich, Nico UL; Stebbins, Glenn; Schiltz, Christine UL et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2014)

In Parkinson’s disease, visual dysfunction is prominent. Visual hallucinations can be a major hallmark of late stage disease, but numerous visual deficits also occur in early stage Parkinson’s disease ... [more ▼]

In Parkinson’s disease, visual dysfunction is prominent. Visual hallucinations can be a major hallmark of late stage disease, but numerous visual deficits also occur in early stage Parkinson’s disease. Specific retinopathy, deficits in the primary visual pathway and the secondary ventral and dorsal pathways, as well as dysfunction of the attention pathways have all been posited as causes of hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease. We present data from patients with Parkinson’s disease that contrast with a known neuro-ophthalmological syndrome, termed ‘blindsight’. In this syndrome, there is an absence of conscious object identification, but preserved ‘guess’ of the location of a stimulus, preserved reflexive saccades and motion perception and preserved autonomical and expressive reactions to negative emotional facial expressions. We propose that patients with Parkinson’s disease have the converse of blindsight, being ‘blind to blindsight’. As such they preserve conscious vision, but show erroneous ‘guess’ localization of visual stimuli, poor saccades and motion perception, and poor emotional face perception with blunted autonomic reaction. Although a large data set on these deficits in Parkinson’s disease has been accumulated, consolidation into one specific syndrome has not been proposed. Focusing on neuropathological and physiological data from two phylogenetically old and subconscious pathways, the retino-colliculo-thalamo-amygdala and the retino-geniculo-extrastriate pathways, we propose that aberrant function of these systems, including pathologically inhibited superior colliculus activity, deficient corollary discharges to the frontal eye fields, dysfunctional pulvinar, claustrum and amygdaloid subnuclei of the amygdala, the latter progressively burdened with Lewy bodies, underlie this syndrome. These network impairments are further corroborated by the concept of the ‘silent amygdala’. Functionally being ‘blind to blindsight’ may facilitate the highly distinctive ‘presence’ or ‘passage’ hallucinations of Parkinson’s disease and can help to explain handicaps in driving capacities and dysfunctional ‘theory of mind’. We propose this synthesis to prompt refined neuropathological and neuroimaging studies on the pivotal nuclei in these pathways in order to better understand the networks underpinning this newly conceptualized syndrome in Parkinson’s disease. [less ▲]

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See detailSide population in human glioblastoma is non-tumorigenic and characterizes brain endothelial cells.
Golebiewska, Anna; Bougnaud, Sebastien; Stieber, Daniel et al

in Brain : a journal of neurology (2013), 136(Pt 5), 1462-75

The identification and significance of cancer stem-like cells in malignant gliomas remains controversial. It has been proposed that cancer stem-like cells display increased drug resistance, through the ... [more ▼]

The identification and significance of cancer stem-like cells in malignant gliomas remains controversial. It has been proposed that cancer stem-like cells display increased drug resistance, through the expression of ATP-binding cassette transporters that detoxify cells by effluxing exogenous compounds. Here, we investigated the 'side population' phenotype based on efflux properties of ATP-binding cassette transporters in freshly isolated human glioblastoma samples and intracranial xenografts derived thereof. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis on sorted cells obtained from glioblastoma biopsies, as well as human tumour xenografts developed in immunodeficient enhanced green fluorescence protein-expressing mice that allow an unequivocal tumour-stroma discrimination, we show that side population cells in human glioblastoma are non-neoplastic and exclusively stroma-derived. Tumour cells were consistently devoid of efflux properties regardless of their genetic background, tumour ploidy or stem cell associated marker expression. Using multi-parameter flow cytometry we identified the stromal side population in human glioblastoma to be brain-derived endothelial cells with a minor contribution of astrocytes. In contrast with their foetal counterpart, neural stem/progenitor cells in the adult brain did not display the side population phenotype. Of note, we show that CD133-positive cells often associated with cancer stem-like cells in glioblastoma biopsies, do not represent a homogenous cell population and include CD31-positive endothelial cells. Interestingly, treatment of brain tumours with the anti-angiogenic agent bevacizumab reduced total vessel density, but did not affect the efflux properties of endothelial cells. In conclusion our findings contribute to an unbiased identification of cancer stem-like cells and stromal cells in brain neoplasms, and provide novel insight into the complex issue of drug delivery to the brain. Since efflux properties of endothelial cells are likely to compromise drug availability, transiently targeting ATP-binding cassette transporters may be a valuable therapeutic strategy to improve treatment effects in brain tumours. [less ▲]

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See detailNigral stimulation for resistant axial motor impairment in Parkinson's disease? A randomized controlled trial.
Weiss, Daniel; Walach, Margarete; Meisner, Christoph et al

in Brain : a journal of neurology (2013), 136(Pt 7), 2098-108

Gait and balance disturbances typically emerge in advanced Parkinson's disease with generally limited response to dopaminergic medication and subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation. Therefore ... [more ▼]

Gait and balance disturbances typically emerge in advanced Parkinson's disease with generally limited response to dopaminergic medication and subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation. Therefore, advanced programming with interleaved pulses was put forward to introduce concomittant nigral stimulation on caudal contacts of a subthalamic lead. Here, we hypothesized that the combined stimulation of subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata improves axial symptoms compared with standard subthalamic nucleus stimulation. Twelve patients were enrolled in this 2 x 2 cross-over double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial and both the safety and efficacy of combined subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata stimulation were evaluated compared with standard subthalamic nucleus stimulation. The primary outcome measure was the change of a broad-scaled cumulative axial Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale score (Scale II items 13-15, Scale III items 27-31) at '3-week follow-up'. Secondary outcome measures specifically addressed freezing of gait, balance, quality of life, non-motor symptoms and neuropsychiatric symptoms. For the primary outcome measure no statistically significant improvement was observed for combined subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata stimulation at the '3-week follow-up'. The secondary endpoints, however, revealed that the combined stimulation of subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata might specifically improve freezing of gait, whereas balance impairment remained unchanged. The combined stimulation of subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata was safe, and of note, no clinically relevant neuropsychiatric adverse effect was observed. Patients treated with subthalamic nucleus and substantia nigra pars reticulata stimulation revealed no 'global' effect on axial motor domains. However, this study opens the perspective that concomittant stimulation of the substantia nigra pars reticulata possibly improves otherwise resistant freezing of gait and, therefore, highly warrants a subsequent phase III randomized controlled trial. [less ▲]

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See detailHaploinsufficiency at the alpha-synuclein gene underlies phenotypic severity in familial Parkinson's disease.
Kobayashi, Hirokazu; Krüger, Rejko UL; Markopoulou, Katerina et al

in Brain : a journal of neurology (2003), 126(Pt 1), 32-42

To date, two point mutations, G209A and G88C, have been reported in the coding region of the alpha-synuclein gene in autosomal dominant familial Parkinson's disease. When translated, these lead to the ... [more ▼]

To date, two point mutations, G209A and G88C, have been reported in the coding region of the alpha-synuclein gene in autosomal dominant familial Parkinson's disease. When translated, these lead to the missense mutations Ala53Thr and Ala30Pro, respectively. Reduced mRNA expression of the G209A allele was reported recently in a Greek-American family. Here, we show that alpha-synuclein mRNA is normally expressed in blood cells and report the results of an analysis of alpha-synuclein mRNA and protein expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines established from kindreds with the G209A and G88C mutations. mRNA expression was characterized using a TaqMan real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay. We assessed five affected and three unaffected members of a German family with the G88C mutation and two affected members in different, unrelated Greek families with the G209A mutation. The ratio of wild-type to mutant alpha-synuclein allele expression ranged from 2.2 to 9.2 in the affected individuals with a severe clinical phenotype. The ratios of the expression levels of the wild-type to mutant alleles were only slightly decreased in mild cases and were less than 1.0 in two asymptomatic heterozygotes. Sequence analysis of the RT-PCR products showed only the presence of G in position 88 and G in position 209 in severely affected heterozygotes of the German and Greek families, respectively. High performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry demonstrated that, relative to wild-type alpha-synuclein, there is a reduction of Ala30Pro alpha-synuclein in lymphoblastoid cell lines originating from severely affected, but not mildly affected G88C/+ heterozygotes. Taken together, these data indicate that there is haploinsufficiency at the alpha-synuclein gene and that the ratio of expression of the wild-type to mutant alleles correlates with the severity of the clinical phenotype. Furthermore, these findings suggest that haploinsufficiency of alpha-synuclein mutations may contribute to disease progression in these forms of familial Parkinson's disease. [less ▲]

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