[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme is a major determinant of prefrontal dopamine levels. The Val(158)Met polymorphism affects COMT enzymatic activity and has been associated with variation in executive function and affective processing. This study investigated the effect of (COMT) genotype on the flexible modulation of the balance between processing self-generated and processing stimulus-oriented information, in the presence or absence of affective distractors. Analyses included 124 healthy adult participants, who were also assessed on standard working memory (WM) tasks. Relative to Val carriers, Met homozygotes made fewer errors when selecting and manipulating self-generated thoughts. This effect was partly accounted for by an association between COMT genotype and visuospatial WM performance. We also observed a complex interaction between the influence of affective distractors, genotype and sex on task accuracy: male, but not female, participants showed sensitivity to the affective distractors that was dependent on COMT genotype. This was not accounted for by WM performance. This study provides novel evidence of the role of dopaminergic genetic variation on the ability to select and manipulate self-generated thoughts. The results also suggest sexually dimorphic effects of COMT genotype on the influence of affective distractors on executive function.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 09/2014; · 5.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted a meta-analysis of Parkinson's disease genome-wide association studies using a common set of 7,893,274 variants across 13,708 cases and 95,282 controls. Twenty-six loci were identified as having genome-wide significant association; these and 6 additional previously reported loci were then tested in an independent set of 5,353 cases and 5,551 controls. Of the 32 tested SNPs, 24 replicated, including 6 newly identified loci. Conditional analyses within loci showed that four loci, including GBA, GAK-DGKQ, SNCA and the HLA region, contain a secondary independent risk variant. In total, we identified and replicated 28 independent risk variants for Parkinson's disease across 24 loci. Although the effect of each individual locus was small, risk profile analysis showed substantial cumulative risk in a comparison of the highest and lowest quintiles of genetic risk (odds ratio (OR) = 3.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.55-4.30; P = 2 × 10(-16)). We also show six risk loci associated with proximal gene expression or DNA methylation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Working memory (WM) refers to mental processes that enable temporary retention and manipulation of information, including information about other people ("social working memory"). Previous studies have demonstrated that nonsocial WM is supported by dopamine neurotransmission. Here, we investigated in 131 healthy adults whether dopamine is similarly involved in social WM by testing whether social and nonsocial WM are influenced by genetic variants in three genes coding for molecules regulating the availability of dopamine in the brain: catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), dopamine active transporter (DAT), and monoamine-oxidase A (MAOA). An advantage for the Met allele of COMT was observed in the two standard WM tasks and in the social WM task. However, the influence of COMT on social WM performance was not accounted for by its influence on either standard WM paradigms. There was no main effect of DAT1 or MAOA, but a significant COMT x DAT1 interaction on social WM performance. This study provides novel preliminary evidence of effects of genetic variants of the dopamine neurotransmitter system on social cognition. The results further suggest that the effects observed on standard WM do not explain the genetic effects on effortful social cognition.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Parkinson's disease (PD) gene, PARK6, encodes the PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) mitochondrial kinase, which provides protection against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. Given the link between glucose metabolism, mitochondrial function and insulin secretion in β-cells, and the reported association of PD with type 2 diabetes, we investigated the response of PINK1-deficient β-cells to glucose stimuli to determine whether loss of PINK1 affected their function. We find that loss of PINK1 significantly impairs the ability of mouse pancreatic β-cells (MIN6 cells) and primary intact islets to take up glucose. This was accompanied by higher basal levels of intracellular calcium leading to increased basal levels of insulin secretion under low glucose conditions. Finally, we investigated the effect of PINK1 deficiency in vivo and find that PINK1 knockout mice have improved glucose tolerance. For the first time, these combined results demonstrate that loss of PINK1 function appears to disrupt glucose-sensing leading to enhanced insulin release, which is uncoupled from glucose uptake, and suggest a key role for PINK1 in β-cell function.
Open Biology 05/2014; 4(5):140051. · 4.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oligomers of the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide have been implicated in the neurotoxicity associated with Alzheimer's disease. We have used single-molecule techniques to examine quantitatively the cellular effects of adding well characterized Aβ oligomers to primary hippocampal cells and hence determine the initial pathway of damage. We found that even picomolar concentrations of Aβ (1-40) and Aβ (1-42) oligomers can, within minutes of addition, increase the levels of intracellular calcium in astrocytes but not in neurons, and this effect is saturated at a concentration of about 10 nM of oligomers. Both Aβ (1-40) and Aβ (1-42) oligomers have comparable effects. The rise in intracellular calcium is followed by an increase in the rate of ROS production by NADPH oxidase in both neurons and astrocytes. The increase in ROS production then triggers caspase-3 activation resulting in the inhibition of long-term potentiation. Our quantitative approach also reveals that only a small fraction of the oligomers are damaging and that an individual rare oligomer binding to an astrocyte can initiate the aforementioned cascade of responses, making it unlikely to be due to any specific interaction. Preincubating the Aβ oligomers with an extracellular chaperone, clusterin, sequesters the oligomers in long-lived complexes and inhibits all of the physiological damage, even at a ratio of 100:1, total Aβ to clusterin. To explain how Aβ oligomers are so damaging but that it takes decades to develop Alzheimer's disease, we suggest a model for disease progression where small amounts of neuronal damage from individual unsequestered oligomers can accumulate over time leading to widespread tissue-level dysfunction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the last 16 years, insights in clinical and genetic characteristics of Parkinson's disease (PD) have increased substantially. We summarize the clinical, genetic, and pathological findings of autosomal dominant PD linked to mutations in SNCA, leucine-rich repeat kinase 2, vacuolar protein sorting-35, and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4 gamma 1 and autosomal recessive PD linked to parkin, PINK1, and DJ-1, as well as autosomal recessive complicated parkinsonian syndromes caused by mutations in ATP13A2, FBXO7, PLA2G6, SYNJ1, and DNAJC6. We also review the advances in high- and low-risk genetic susceptibility factors and present multisystem disorders that may present with parkinsonism as the major clinical feature and provide recommendations for prioritization of genetic testing. Finally, we consider the challenges of future genetic research in PD.
Movement Disorders Clinical Practice. 04/2014; 1(1).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the genetic etiology in 2 consanguineous families who presented a novel phenotype of autosomal recessive juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis associated with generalized dystonia.
A combination of homozygosity mapping and whole-exome sequencing in the first family and Sanger sequencing of candidate genes in the second family were used.
Both families were found to have homozygous loss-of-function mutations in the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 2 (juvenile) (ALS2) gene.
We report generalized dystonia and cerebellar signs in association with ALS2-related disease. We suggest that the ALS2 gene should be screened for mutations in patients who present with a similar phenotype.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) perform per-SNP association tests to identify variants involved in disease or trait susceptibility. However, such an approach is not powerful enough to unravel genes that are not individually contributing to the disease/trait, but that may have a role in interaction with other genes as a group. Pathway analysis is an alternative way to highlight such group of genes. Using SNP association P-values from eight multiple sclerosis (MS) GWAS data sets, we performed a candidate pathway analysis for MS susceptibility by considering genes interacting in the cell adhesion molecule (CAMs) biological pathway using Cytoscape software. This network is a strong candidate, as it is involved in the crossing of the blood-brain barrier by the T cells, an early event in MS pathophysiology, and is used as an efficient therapeutic target. We drew up a list of 76 genes belonging to the CAM network. We highlighted 64 networks enriched with CAM genes with low P-values. Filtering by a percentage of CAM genes up to 50% and rejecting enriched signals mainly driven by transcription factors, we highlighted five networks associated with MS susceptibility. One of them, constituted of ITGAL, ICAM1 and ICAM3 genes, could be of interest to develop novel therapeutic targets.Genes and Immunity advance online publication, 16 January 2014; doi:10.1038/gene.2013.70.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: GTP cyclohydrolase 1, encoded by the GCH1 gene, is an essential enzyme for dopamine production in nigrostriatal cells. Loss-of-function mutations in GCH1 result in severe reduction of dopamine synthesis in nigrostriatal cells and are the most common cause of DOPA-responsive dystonia, a rare disease that classically presents in childhood with generalized dystonia and a dramatic long-lasting response to levodopa. We describe clinical, genetic and nigrostriatal dopaminergic imaging ([123I]N-omega-fluoropropyl-2beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(4-iodophenyl) tropane single photon computed tomography) findings of four unrelated pedigrees with DOPA-responsive dystonia in which pathogenic GCH1 variants were identified in family members with adult-onset parkinsonism. Dopamine transporter imaging was abnormal in all parkinsonian patients, indicating Parkinson's disease-like nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation. We subsequently explored the possibility that pathogenic GCH1 variants could contribute to the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, even in the absence of a family history for DOPA-responsive dystonia. The frequency of GCH1 variants was evaluated in whole-exome sequencing data of 1318 cases with Parkinson's disease and 5935 control subjects. Combining cases and controls, we identified a total of 11 different heterozygous GCH1 variants, all at low frequency. This list includes four pathogenic variants previously associated with DOPA-responsive dystonia (Q110X, V204I, K224R and M230I) and seven of undetermined clinical relevance (Q110E, T112A, A120S, D134G, I154V, R198Q and G217V). The frequency of GCH1 variants was significantly higher (Fisher's exact test P-value 0.0001) in cases (10/1318 = 0.75%) than in controls (6/5935 = 0.1%; odds ratio 7.5; 95% confidence interval 2.4-25.3). Our results show that rare GCH1 variants are associated with an increased risk for Parkinson's disease. These findings expand the clinical and biological relevance of GTP cycloydrolase 1 deficiency, suggesting that it not only leads to biochemical striatal dopamine depletion and DOPA-responsive dystonia, but also predisposes to nigrostriatal cell loss. Further insight into GCH1-associated pathogenetic mechanisms will shed light on the role of dopamine metabolism in nigral degeneration and Parkinson's disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dissecting how genetic and environmental influences impact on learning is helpful for maximizing numeracy and literacy. Here we show, using twin and genome-wide analysis, that there is a substantial genetic component to children's ability in reading and mathematics, and estimate that around one half of the observed correlation in these traits is due to shared genetic effects (so-called Generalist Genes). Thus, our results highlight the potential role of the learning environment in contributing to differences in a child's cognitive abilities at age twelve.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human prion diseases, although variable in clinicopathological phenotype, generally present as neurologic or neuropsychiatric conditions associated with rapid multifocal central nervous system degeneration that is usually dominated by dementia and cerebellar ataxia. Approximately 15% of cases of recognized prion disease are inherited and associated with coding mutations in the gene encoding prion protein (PRNP). The availability of genetic diagnosis has led to a progressive broadening of the recognized spectrum of disease.
We used longitudinal clinical assessments over a period of 20 years at one hospital combined with genealogical, neuropsychological, neurophysiological, neuroimaging, pathological, molecular genetic, and biochemical studies, as well as studies of animal transmission, to characterize a novel prion disease in a large British kindred. We studied 6 of 11 affected family members in detail, along with autopsy or biopsy samples obtained from 5 family members.
We identified a PRNP Y163X truncation mutation and describe a distinct and consistent phenotype of chronic diarrhea with autonomic failure and a length-dependent axonal, predominantly sensory, peripheral polyneuropathy with an onset in early adulthood. Cognitive decline and seizures occurred when the patients were in their 40s or 50s. The deposition of prion protein amyloid was seen throughout peripheral organs, including the bowel and peripheral nerves. Neuropathological examination during end-stage disease showed the deposition of prion protein in the form of frequent cortical amyloid plaques, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and tauopathy. A unique pattern of abnormal prion protein fragments was seen in brain tissue. Transmission studies in laboratory mice were negative.
Abnormal forms of prion protein that were found in multiple peripheral tissues were associated with diarrhea, autonomic failure, and neuropathy. (Funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council and others.).
New England Journal of Medicine 11/2013; 369(20):1904-14. · 54.42 Impact Factor