[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Individuals carrying (GGGGCC) expanded repeats in the C9orf72 gene represent a significant portion of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Elucidating how these expanded repeats cause "c9FTD/ALS" has since become an important goal of the field. Toward this end, we sought to investigate whether epigenetic changes are responsible for the decrease in C9orf72 expression levels observed in c9FTD/ALS patients. We obtained brain tissue from ten c9FTD/ALS individuals, nine FTD/ALS cases without a C9orf72 repeat expansion, and nine disease control participants, and generated fibroblastoid cell lines from seven C9orf72 expanded repeat carriers and seven participants carrying normal alleles. Chromatin immunoprecipitation using antibodies for histone H3 and H4 trimethylated at lysines 9 (H3K9), 27 (H3K27), 79 (H3K79), and 20 (H4K20) revealed that these trimethylated residues bind strongly to C9orf72 expanded repeats in brain tissue, but not to non-pathogenic repeats. Our finding that C9orf72 mRNA levels are reduced in the frontal cortices and cerebella of c9FTD/ALS patients is consistent with trimethylation of these histone residues, an event known to repress gene expression. Moreover, treating repeat carrier-derived fibroblasts with 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine, a DNA and histone demethylating agent, not only decreased C9orf72 binding to trimethylated histone residues, but also increased C9orf72 mRNA expression. Our results provide compelling evidence that trimethylation of lysine residues within histones H3 and H4 is a novel mechanism involved in reducing C9orf72 mRNA expression in expanded repeat carriers. Of importance, we show that mutant C9orf72 binding to trimethylated H3K9 and H3K27 is detectable in blood of c9FTD/ALS patients. Confirming these exciting results using blood from a larger cohort of patients may establish this novel epigenetic event as a biomarker for c9FTD/ALS.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Algorithms designed to identify canonical yeast prions predict that around 250 human proteins, including several RNA-binding proteins associated with neurodegenerative disease, harbour a distinctive prion-like domain (PrLD) enriched in uncharged polar amino acids and glycine. PrLDs in RNA-binding proteins are essential for the assembly of ribonucleoprotein granules. However, the interplay between human PrLD function and disease is not understood. Here we define pathogenic mutations in PrLDs of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) A2B1 and A1 in families with inherited degeneration affecting muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone, and in one case of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Wild-type hnRNPA2 (the most abundant isoform of hnRNPA2B1) and hnRNPA1 show an intrinsic tendency to assemble into self-seeding fibrils, which is exacerbated by the disease mutations. Indeed, the pathogenic mutations strengthen a ‘steric zipper’ motif in the PrLD, which accelerates the formation of self-seeding fibrils that cross-seed polymerization of wild-type hnRNP. Notably, the disease mutations promote excess incorporation of hnRNPA2 and hnRNPA1 into stress granules and drive the formation of cytoplasmic inclusions in animal models that recapitulate the human pathology. Thus, dysregulated polymerization caused by a potent mutant steric zipper motif in a PrLD can initiate degenerative disease. Related proteins with PrLDs should therefore be considered candidates for initiating and perhaps propagating proteinopathies of muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The phosphorylated neurofilament heavy subunit (pNF-H), a major structural component of motor axons, is a promising putative biomarker in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) but has been studied mainly in CSF. We examined pNF-H concentrations in plasma, serum and CSF as a potential biomarker for disease progression and survival in ALS. METHODOLOGY: We measured pNF-H concentration by monoclonal sandwich ELISA in plasma (n=43), serum and CSF (n=20) in ALS patients collected at the Mayo Clinic Florida and Emory University. We included plasma from an ALS cohort (n=20) from an earlier pilot study in order to evaluate baseline pNF-H levels in relation to disease progression using the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R), survival and anatomical region of ALS onset. RESULTS: Higher pNF-H levels in plasma, serum and CSF showed evidence of association with faster decline in ALSFRS-R. There was evidence for a relationship of higher serum and plasma pNF-H levels with shorter survival, although evidence was weaker for CSF. pNF-H concentration in plasma (n=62) may be higher in patients with bulbar onset than in patients with spinal onset. CONCLUSIONS: In ALS, increased pNF-H concentration in plasma, serum and CSF appears to be associated with faster disease progression. Factors affecting pNF-H levels or their detection in serum and plasma in relation to disease course may differ from those in CSF. Data raising the possibility that site of ALS onset (bulbar vs spinal) may influence pNF-H levels in peripheral blood seems noteworthy but requires confirmation. These data support further study of pNF-H in CSF, serum and plasma as a potential ALS biomarker.
Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 10/2012; · 4.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of many neurological disorders has been greatly enhanced by the discovery of mutations in genes linked to familial forms of these diseases. These have facilitated the generation of cell and animal models that can be used to understand the underlying molecular pathology. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the use of patient-derived cells, due to the development of induced pluripotent stem cells and their subsequent differentiation into neurons and glia. Access to patient cell lines carrying the relevant mutations is a limiting factor for many centres wishing to pursue this research. We have therefore generated an open-access collection of fibroblast lines from patients carrying mutations linked to neurological disease. These cell lines have been deposited in the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and can be requested by any research group for use in in vitro disease modelling. There are currently 71 mutation-defined cell lines available for request from a wide range of neurological disorders and this collection will be continually expanded. This represents a significant resource that will advance the use of patient cells as disease models by the scientific community.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurologic disorder, characterized by progressive degeneration of both upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Previous genetic studies have identified mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1), transactive response binding protein 43 (TARDBP), fused in sarcoma (FUS), and valosin containing protein (VCP) genes as being causative of disease.(1) Recently, an expansion of the noncoding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) was identified as an important novel genetic defect in patients with ALS without or with frontotemporal dementia (FTD-ALS).(2,3) Here we report the frequency of this new mutation and its associated clinical features in a cohort of patients obtained from the Coriell Cell Repository.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the gene encoding superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) account for about 20% of the cases of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). It is not known how the mutant protein causes disease, or why only a subset of cell types (motor neurons) are targeted. The aggregation and misfolding of mutant SOD1 are implicated in disease pathogenesis in both animal models and humans. We used a monoclonal antibody, C4F6, which specifically reacts with mutant and/or "misfolded" SOD1, to investigate the regional distribution of mutant SOD1 protein in rodent and human tissues. C4F6 reacted only with mutant SOD1 and showed remarkable selectivity for disease-affected tissues and cells. Tissue not affected by disease but containing high levels of mutant protein (sensory neurons) did not stain with C4F6. Additionally, C4F6 intensely stained some motor neurons while leaving adjacent motor neurons unstained. Although C4F6 was generated against the G93A SOD1 mutant, it also recognized other SOD1 mutants. In human autopsy tissues from patients carrying SOD1 mutations, C4F6 identified skein-like intracellular inclusions in motor neurons, similar to those seen in rodents, and again stained only a subset of motor neurons. In spinal cords from patients with sporadic ALS, other neurodegenerative diseases, and normal controls, C4F6-immunoreactive inclusions were not detected, but the antibody did reveal diffuse immunostaining of some spinal motor neurons. The ability of C4F6 to differentiate pathologically affected tissue in mutant SOD1 ALS rodent models and humans, specifically motor neuron populations, suggests that this antibody may recognize a "toxic" form of the mutant SOD1 protein.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2012; 109(14):5505-10. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating and universally fatal neurodegenerative disease. Mutations in two related RNA-binding proteins, TDP-43 and FUS, that harbor prion-like domains, cause some forms of ALS. There are at least 213 human proteins harboring RNA recognition motifs, including FUS and TDP-43, raising the possibility that additional RNA-binding proteins might contribute to ALS pathogenesis. We performed a systematic survey of these proteins to find additional candidates similar to TDP-43 and FUS, followed by bioinformatics to predict prion-like domains in a subset of them. We sequenced one of these genes, TAF15, in patients with ALS and identified missense variants, which were absent in a large number of healthy controls. These disease-associated variants of TAF15 caused formation of cytoplasmic foci when expressed in primary cultures of spinal cord neurons. Very similar to TDP-43 and FUS, TAF15 aggregated in vitro and conferred neurodegeneration in Drosophila, with the ALS-linked variants having a more severe effect than wild type. Immunohistochemistry of postmortem spinal cord tissue revealed mislocalization of TAF15 in motor neurons of patients with ALS. We propose that aggregation-prone RNA-binding proteins might contribute very broadly to ALS pathogenesis and the genes identified in our yeast functional screen, coupled with prion-like domain prediction analysis, now provide a powerful resource to facilitate ALS disease gene discovery.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2011; 108(52):20881-90. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expanded glutamine repeats of the ataxin-2 (ATXN2) protein cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2), a rare neurodegenerative disorder. More recent studies have suggested that expanded ATXN2 repeats are a genetic risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) via an RNA-dependent interaction with TDP-43. Given the phenotypic diversity observed in SCA2 patients, we set out to determine the polymorphic nature of the ATXN2 repeat length across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders. In this study, we genotyped the ATXN2 repeat in 3919 neurodegenerative disease patients and 4877 healthy controls and performed logistic regression analysis to determine the association of repeat length with the risk of disease. We confirmed the presence of a significantly higher number of expanded ATXN2 repeat carriers in ALS patients compared with healthy controls (OR = 5.57; P= 0.001; repeat length >30 units). Furthermore, we observed significant association of expanded ATXN2 repeats with the development of progressive supranuclear palsy (OR = 5.83; P= 0.004; repeat length >30 units). Although expanded repeat carriers were also identified in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease patients, these were not significantly more frequent than in controls. Of note, our study identified a number of healthy control individuals who harbor expanded repeat alleles (31-33 units), which suggests caution should be taken when attributing specific disease phenotypes to these repeat lengths. In conclusion, our findings confirm the role of ATXN2 as an important risk factor for ALS and support the hypothesis that expanded ATXN2 repeats may predispose to other neurodegenerative diseases, including progressive supranuclear palsy.
Human Molecular Genetics 06/2011; 20(16):3207-12. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transactivation response DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a principal component of ubiquitinated inclusions in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions and in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Mutations in TARDBP, the gene encoding TDP-43, are associated with sporadic and familial ALS, yet multiple neurodegenerative diseases exhibit TDP-43 pathology without known TARDBP mutations. While TDP-43 has been ascribed a number of roles in normal biology, including mRNA splicing and transcription regulation, elucidating disease mechanisms associated with this protein is hindered by the lack of models to dissect such functions. We have generated transgenic (TDP-43PrP) mice expressing full-length human TDP-43 (hTDP-43) driven by the mouse prion promoter to provide a tool to analyze the role of wild-type hTDP-43 in the brain and spinal cord. Expression of hTDP-43 caused a dose-dependent downregulation of mouse TDP-43 RNA and protein. Moderate overexpression of hTDP-43 resulted in TDP-43 truncation, increased cytoplasmic and nuclear ubiquitin levels, and intranuclear and cytoplasmic aggregates that were immunopositive for phosphorylated TDP-43. Of note, abnormal juxtanuclear aggregates of mitochondria were observed, accompanied by enhanced levels of Fis1 and phosphorylated DLP1, key components of the mitochondrial fission machinery. Conversely, a marked reduction in mitofusin 1 expression, which plays an essential role in mitochondrial fusion, was observed in TDP-43PrP mice. Finally, TDP-43PrP mice showed reactive gliosis, axonal and myelin degeneration, gait abnormalities, and early lethality. This TDP-43 transgenic line provides a valuable tool for identifying potential roles of wild-type TDP-43 within the CNS and for studying TDP-43-associated neurotoxicity.
Journal of Neuroscience 08/2010; 30(32):10851-9. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the gene encoding fused in sarcoma (FUS) were recently identified as a novel cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), emphasizing the genetic heterogeneity of ALS. We sequenced the genes encoding superoxide dismutase (SOD1), TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TARDBP) and FUS in 99 sporadic and 17 familial ALS patients ascertained at Mayo Clinic. We identified two novel mutations in FUS in two out of 99 (2.0%) sporadic ALS patients and established the de novo occurrence of one FUS mutation. In familial patients, we identified three (17.6%) SOD1 mutations, while FUS and TARDBP mutations were excluded. The de novo FUS mutation (g.10747A>G; IVS13-2A>G) affects the splice-acceptor site of FUS intron 13 and was shown to induce skipping of FUS exon 14 leading to the C-terminal truncation of FUS (p.G466VfsX14). Subcellular localization studies showed a dramatic increase in the cytoplasmic localization of FUS and a reduction of normal nuclear expression in cells transfected with truncated compared to wild-type FUS. We further identified a novel in-frame insertion/deletion mutation in FUS exon 12 (p.S402_P411delinsGGGG) which is predicted to expand a conserved poly-glycine motif. Our findings extend the mutation spectrum in FUS leading to ALS and describe the first de novo mutation in FUS.
Human Mutation 03/2010; 31(5):E1377-89. · 5.21 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Levels of neurofilament subunits, potential biomarkers of motor axon breakdown, are increased in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patient's CSF but data on blood are not available. We measured blood levels of the phosphorylated axonal form of neurofilament H (pNF-H) by ELISA in transgenic rodent models of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) ALS, and in 20 ALS patients and 20 similar aged controls monthly for 4 months. All symptomatic rodent ALS models showed robust levels of blood pNF-H, while control rodents or mice transgenic for unmutated SOD1 showed no detectable blood pNF-H. Average pNF-H levels in the G93A SOD1 mouse progressively increased from day 74 through death (day approximately 130). Median blood pNF-H level in ALS patients was 2.8-fold higher than controls (p < 0.001). Median ALSFRS-R declined a median of 0.8 pt/month (p < 0.001); higher baseline pNF-H level appeared to be associated with faster ALSFRS-R decline over 4 months (p = 0.087). The median rate of decline in ALSFRS-R was 1.9 pt/month in patients with baseline pNF-H levels above the median pNF-H value of 0.53 ng/mL; ALSFRS-R declined at a median of 0.6 pt/month in patients below this level. The pNF-H levels were relatively stable month to month in individual patients, raising questions regarding the molecular pathogenesis of ALS. Baseline control human pNF-H levels were higher in men than women and increased minimally over time. These data suggest that blood pNF-H can be used to monitor axonal degeneration in ALS model rodents and support further study of this protein as a potential biomarker of disease prognosis in ALS patients.
Journal of Neurochemistry 09/2009; 111(5):1182-91. · 3.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presence of afterdischarges on repetitive nerve stimulation may be useful to diagnose cramp fasciculation syndrome, however, the presence and normal duration of afterdischarges has not been well-defined in the normal population and individuals with other neuromuscular diseases. The aim of this pilot study was to describe the distribution of afterdischarge durations in normal controls and patients with peripheral neuropathy. The estimated seventy-fifth percentiles of the afterdischarge durations following tibial nerve repetitive nerve stimulation at 2, 5, 10, and 20 Hz were 315, 688, 745, and 928 milliseconds for 18 normal patients, and 143, 31, 323, and 542 milliseconds for 18 peripheral neuropathy patients respectively. Afterdischarge durations were similar in peripheral neuropathy patients and controls. These findings suggest that afterdischarge durations of more than 500 milliseconds are common in normal controls without subjective cramps and patients with peripheral neuropathy, with some durations beyond 1,000 milliseconds. Therefore, the presence of afterdischarges on repetitive nerve stimulation should be interpreted with caution when evaluating patients for hyperexcitable nerve syndromes.
Journal of clinical neurophysiology: official publication of the American Electroencephalographic Society 02/2009; 26(1):45-9. · 1.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous human clinical trials of insulin-like growth factor type I (IGF-1) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have been inconsistent. This phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was undertaken to address whether IGF-1 benefited patients with ALS.
A total of 330 patients from 20 medical centers were randomized to receive 0.05 mg/kg body weight of human recombinant IGF-1 given subcutaneously twice daily or placebo for 2 years. The primary outcome measure was change in their manual muscle testing score. Secondary outcome measures included tracheostomy-free survival and rate of change in the revised ALS functional rating scale. Intention to treat analysis was used.
There was no difference between treatment groups in the primary or secondary outcome measures after the 2-year treatment period.
Insulin-like growth factor type I does not provide benefit for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Combining agents with different mechanisms of action may be necessary for meaningful results in treating ALS. The combinations of minocycline-creatine and celecoxib-creatine have additive effects in the murine model. New trial designs are needed to efficiently screen the growing number of potential neuroprotective agents. Our objective was to assess two drug combinations in ALS using a novel phase II trial design. We conducted a randomized, double-blind selection trial in sequential pools of 60 patients. Participants received minocycline (100 mg)-creatine (10 g) twice daily or celecoxib (400 mg)-creatine (10 g) twice daily for six months. The primary objective was treatment selection based on which combination best slowed deterioration in the ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised (ALSFRS-R); the trial could be stopped after one pool if the difference between the two arms was adequately large. At trial conclusion, each arm was compared to a historical control group in a futility analysis. Safety measures were also examined. After the first patient pool, the mean six-month decline in ALSFRS-R was 5.27 (SD=5.54) in the celecoxib-creatine group and 6.47 (SD=9.14) in the minocycline-creatine group. The corresponding decline was 5.82 (SD=6.77) in the historical controls. The difference between the two sample means exceeded the stopping criterion. The null hypothesis of superiority was not rejected in the futility analysis. Skin rash occurred more frequently in the celecoxib-creatine group. In conclusion, the celecoxib-creatine combination was selected as preferable to the minocycline-creatine combination for further evaluation. This phase II design was efficient, leading to treatment selection after just 60 patients, and can be used in other phase II trials to assess different agents.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Minocycline has anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory effects in vitro, and extends survival in mouse models of some neurological conditions. Several trials are planned or are in progress to assess whether minocycline slows human neurodegeneration. We aimed to test the efficacy of minocycline as a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
We did a multicentre, randomised placebo-controlled phase III trial. After a 4-month lead-in phase, 412 patients were randomly assigned to receive placebo or minocycline in escalating doses of up to 400 mg/day for 9 months. The primary outcome measure was the difference in rate of change in the revised ALS functional rating scale (ALSFRS-R). Secondary outcome measures were forced vital capacity (FVC), manual muscle testing (MMT), quality of life, survival, and safety. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00047723.
ALSFRS-R score deterioration was faster in the minocycline group than in the placebo group (-1.30 vs -1.04 units/month, 95% CI for difference -0.44 to -0.08; p=0.005). Patients on minocycline also had non-significant tendencies towards faster decline in FVC (-3.48 vs -3.01, -1.03 to 0.11; p=0.11) and MMT score (-0.30 vs -0.26, -0.08 to 0.01; p=0.11), and greater mortality during the 9-month treatment phase (hazard ratio=1.32, 95% CI 0.83 to 2.10; p=0.23) than did patients on placebo. Quality-of-life scores did not differ between the treatment groups. Non-serious gastrointestinal and neurological adverse events were more common in the minocycline group than in the placebo group, but these events were not significantly related to the decline in ALSFRS-R score.
Our finding that minocycline has a harmful effect on patients with ALS has implications for trials of minocycline in patients with other neurological disorders, and for how potential neuroprotective agents are screened for use in patients with ALS.
The Lancet Neurology 01/2008; 6(12):1045-53. · 23.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The progranulin gene (GRN) is mutated in 5-10% of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and in about 20% of patients with familial FTLD. The most common mutation in GRN is Arg493X. We aimed to establish the contribution of this mutation to FTLD and related disorders.
We measured the frequency of Arg493X in 3405 unrelated patients with various neurodegenerative diseases using Taqman single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping. Clinicopathological characterisation and shared haplotype analysis were done for 30 families with FTLD who carry Arg493X. To investigate the effect of potential modifying loci, we did linear regression analyses with onset age as the covariate for GRN variants, for genotypes of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE), and for haplotypes of the microtubule-associated protein tau gene (MAPT).
Of 731 patients with FTLD, 16 (2%) carried Arg493X. This mutation was not detected in 2674 patients who did not have FTLD. In 37 patients with Arg493X from 30 families with FTLD, clinical diagnoses included frontotemporal dementia, primary progressive aphasia, corticobasal syndrome, and Alzheimer's disease. Range of onset age was 44-69 years. In all patients who came to autopsy (n=13), the pathological diagnosis was FTLD with neuronal inclusions that contained TAR DNA-binding protein or ubiquitin, but not tau. Neurofibrillary tangle pathology in the form of Braak staging correlated with overall neuropathology in the Arg493X carriers. Haplotype analyses suggested that Arg493X arose twice, with a single founder for 27 families. Linear regression analyses suggested that patients with SNP rs9897528 on their wild-type GRN allele have delayed symptom onset. Onset ages were not associated with the MAPT H1 or H2 haplotypes or APOE genotypes, but early memory deficits were associated with the presence of an APOE epsilon4 allele.
Clinical heterogeneity is associated with GRN haploinsufficiency, and genetic variability on the wild-type GRN allele might have a role in the age-related disease penetrance of GRN mutations.
The Lancet Neurology 11/2007; 6(10):857-68. · 23.92 Impact Factor