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Variations in the progranulin gene affect global gene expression in frontotemporal lobar degeneration

Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Human Molecular Genetics (Impact Factor: 6.68). 06/2008; 17(10):1349-62. DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddn023
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that results in progressive decline in behavior, executive function and sometimes language. Disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Recently, however, the DNA- and RNA-binding protein TDP-43 has been identified as the major protein present in the hallmark inclusion bodies of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions (FTLD-U), suggesting a role for transcriptional dysregulation in FTLD-U pathophysiology. Using the Affymetrix U133A microarray platform, we profiled global gene expression in both histopathologically affected and unaffected areas of human FTLD-U brains. We then characterized differential gene expression with biological pathway analyses, cluster and principal component analyses, and subgroup analyses based on brain region and progranulin (GRN) gene status. Comparing 17 FTLD-U brains to 11 controls, we identified 414 upregulated and 210 downregulated genes in frontal cortex (P-value < 0.001). Moreover, cluster and principal component analyses revealed that samples with mutations or possibly pathogenic variations in the GRN gene (GRN+, 7/17) had an expression signature that was distinct from both normal controls and FTLD-U samples lacking GRN gene variations (GRN-, 10/17). Within the subgroup of GRN+ FTLD-U, we found >1300 dysregulated genes in frontal cortex (P-value < 0.001), many participating in pathways uniquely dysregulated in the GRN+ cases. Our findings demonstrate a distinct molecular phenotype for GRN+ FTLD-U, not readily apparent on clinical or histopathological examination, suggesting distinct pathophysiological mechanisms for GRN+ and GRN- subtypes of FTLD-U. In addition, these data from a large number of human brains provide a valuable resource for future testing of disease hypotheses.

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