[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transcriptional dysregulation has long been recognized as central to the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease (HD). MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent a major system of post-transcriptional regulation, by either preventing translational initiation or by targeting transcripts for storage or for degradation. Using next-generation miRNA sequencing in prefrontal cortex (Brodmann Area 9) of twelve HD and nine controls, we identified five miRNAs (miR-10b-5p, miR-196a-5p, miR-196b-5p, miR-615-3p and miR-1247-5p) up-regulated in HD at genome-wide significance (FDR q-value<0.05). Three of these, miR-196a-5p, miR-196b-5p and miR-615-3p, were expressed at near zero levels in control brains. Expression was verified for all five miRNAs using reverse transcription quantitative PCR and all but miR-1247-5p were replicated in an independent sample (8HD/8C). Ectopic miR-10b-5p expression in PC12 HTT-Q73 cells increased survival by MTT assay and cell viability staining suggesting increased expression may be a protective response. All of the miRNAs but miR-1247-5p are located in intergenic regions of Hox clusters. Total mRNA sequencing in the same samples identified fifteen of 55 genes within the Hox cluster gene regions as differentially expressed in HD, and the Hox genes immediately adjacent to the four Hox cluster miRNAs as up-regulated. Pathway analysis of mRNA targets of these miRNAs implicated functions for neuronal differentiation, neurite outgrowth, cell death and survival. In regression models among the HD brains, huntingtin CAG repeat size, onset age and age at death were independently found to be inversely related to miR-10b-5p levels. CAG repeat size and onset age were independently inversely related to miR-196a-5p, onset age was inversely related to miR-196b-5p and age at death was inversely related to miR-615-3p expression. These results suggest these Hox-related miRNAs may be involved in neuroprotective response in HD. Recently, miRNAs have shown promise as biomarkers for human diseases and given their relationship to disease expression, these miRNAs are biomarker candidates in HD.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, typically with clinical manifestations in adult years, caused by an expanded polyglutamine-coding repeat in HTT. There are no treatments that delay or prevent the onset or progression of this devastating disease. Objective and Methods: In order to study its pre-symptomatic molecular progression and provide a large mammalian model for determining natural history of the disease and for therapeutic testing, we generated and previously reported on lines of transgenic sheep carrying a full length human HTT cDNA transgene, with expression driven by a minimal HTT promoter. We report here further characterization of our preferred line, OVT73. Results: This line reliably expresses the expanded human huntingtin protein at modest, but readily detectable levels throughout the brain, including the striatum and cortex. Transmission of the 73 unit glutamine coding repeat was relatively stable over three generations. At the first time-point of a longitudinal study, animals sacrificed at 6 months (7 transgenic, 7 control) showed reduced striatum GABA A 1 receptor, and globus pallidus leu-enkephalin immunoreactivity. Two of three 18 month old animals sacrificed revealed cortical neuropil aggregates. Furthermore, neuronal intranuclear inclusions were identified in the piriform cortex of a single 36 month old animal in addition to cortical neuropil aggregates. Conclusions: Taken together, these data indicate that the OVT73 transgenic sheep line will progressively reveal early HD pathology and allow therapeutic testing over a period of time relevant to human patients.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, cognitive, and behavioral disturbances. It is caused by the expansion of the HTT CAG repeat, which is the major determinant of age at onset (AO) of motor symptoms. Aberrant function of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and/or overexposure to dopamine has been suggested to cause significant neurotoxicity, contributing to HD pathogenesis. We used genetic association analysis in 1,628 HD patients to evaluate candidate polymorphisms in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subtype genes (GRIN2A rs4998386 and rs2650427, and GRIN2B rs1806201) and functional polymorphisms in genes in the dopamine pathway (DAT1 3' UTR 40-bp variable number tandem repeat (VNTR), DRD4 exon 3 48-bp VNTR, DRD2 rs1800497, and COMT rs4608) as potential modifiers of the disease process. None of the seven polymorphisms tested was found to be associated with significant modification of motor AO, either in a dominant or additive model, after adjusting for ancestry. The results of this candidate-genetic study therefore do not provide strong evidence to support a modulatory role for these variations within glutamatergic and dopaminergic genes in the AO of HD motor manifestations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genetics of complex disease produce alterations in the molecular interactions of cellular pathways whose collective effect may become clear through the organized structure of molecular networks. To characterize molecular systems associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), we constructed gene-regulatory networks in 1,647 postmortem brain tissues from LOAD patients and nondemented subjects, and we demonstrate that LOAD reconfigures specific portions of the molecular interaction structure. Through an integrative network-based approach, we rank-ordered these network structures for relevance to LOAD pathology, highlighting an immune- and microglia-specific module that is dominated by genes involved in pathogen phagocytosis, contains TYROBP as a key regulator, and is upregulated in LOAD. Mouse microglia cells overexpressing intact or truncated TYROBP revealed expression changes that significantly overlapped the human brain TYROBP network. Thus the causal network structure is a useful predictor of response to gene perturbations and presents a framework to test models of disease mechanisms underlying LOAD.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Huntington's disease (HD), the size of the expanded HTT CAG repeat mutation is the primary driver of the processes that determine age at onset of motor symptoms. However, correlation of cellular biochemical parameters also extends across the normal repeat range, supporting the view that the CAG repeat represents a functional polymorphism with dominant effects determined by the longer allele. A central challenge to defining the functional consequences of this single polymorphism is the difficulty of distinguishing its subtle effects from the multitude of other sources of biological variation. We demonstrate that an analytical approach based upon continuous correlation with CAG size was able to capture the modest (∼21%) contribution of the repeat to the variation in genome-wide gene expression in 107 lymphoblastoid cell lines, with alleles ranging from 15 to 92 CAGs. Furthermore, a mathematical model from an iterative strategy yielded predicted CAG repeat lengths that were significantly positively correlated with true CAG allele size and negatively correlated with age at onset of motor symptoms. Genes negatively correlated with repeat size were also enriched in a set of genes whose expression were CAG-correlated in human HD cerebellum. These findings both reveal the relatively small, but detectable impact of variation in the CAG allele in global data in these peripheral cells and provide a strategy for building multi-dimensional data-driven models of the biological network that drives the HD disease process by continuous analysis across allelic panels of neuronal cells vulnerable to the dominant effects of the HTT CAG repeat.
Human Molecular Genetics 04/2013; · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat in the HTT gene encoding huntingtin. The disease has an insidious course, typically progressing over 10-15 years until death. Currently there is no effective disease-modifying therapy. To better understand the HD pathogenic process we have developed genetic HTT CAG knock-in mouse models that accurately recapitulate the HD mutation in man. Here, we describe results of a broad, standardized phenotypic screen in 10-46 week old heterozygous HdhQ111 knock-in mice, probing a wide range of physiological systems. The results of this screen revealed a number of behavioral abnormalities in HdhQ111/+ mice that include hypoactivity, decreased anxiety, motor learning and coordination deficits, and impaired olfactory discrimination. The screen also provided evidence supporting subtle cardiovascular, lung, and plasma metabolite alterations. Importantly, our results reveal that a single mutant HTT allele in the mouse is sufficient to elicit multiple phenotypic abnormalities, consistent with a dominant disease process in patients. These data provide a starting point for further investigation of several organ systems in HD, for the dissection of underlying pathogenic mechanisms and for the identification of reliable phenotypic endpoints for therapeutic testing.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e80923. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Large intergenic noncoding (linc) RNAs represent a newly described class of ribonucleic acid whose importance in human disease remains undefined. We identified a severely developmentally delayed 16-year-old female with karyotype 46,XX,t(2;11)(p25.1;p15.1)dn in the absence of clinically significant copy number variants (CNVs). DNA capture followed by next-generation sequencing of the translocation breakpoints revealed disruption of a single noncoding gene on chromosome 2, LINC00299, whose RNA product is expressed in all tissues measured, but most abundantly in brain. Among a series of additional, unrelated subjects referred for clinical diagnostic testing who showed CNV affecting this locus, we identified four with exon-crossing deletions in association with neurodevelopmental abnormalities. No disruption of the LINC00299 coding sequence was seen in almost 14,000 control subjects. Together, these subjects with disruption of LINC00299 implicate this particular noncoding RNA in brain development and raise the possibility that, as a class, abnormalities of lincRNAs may play a significant role in human developmental disorders.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 12/2012; 91(6):1128-34. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects muscle coordination and diminishes cognitive abilities. The genetic basis of the disease is an expansion of CAG repeats in the Huntingtin (Htt) gene. Here we aimed to generate a series of mouse neural stem (NS) cell lines that carried varying numbers of CAG repeats in the mouse Htt gene (Hdh CAG knock-in NS cells) or that had Hdh null alleles (Hdh knock-out NS cells). Towards this end, Hdh CAG knock-in mouse ES cell lines that carried an Htt gene with 20, 50, 111, or 140 CAG repeats or that were Htt null were neuralized and converted into self-renewing NS cells. The resulting NS cell lines were immunopositive for the neural stem cell markers NESTIN, SOX2, and BLBP and had similar proliferative rates and cell cycle distributions. After 14days in vitro, wild-type NS cells gave rise to cultures composed of 70% MAP2(+) neurons and 30% GFAP(+) astrocytes. In contrast, NS cells with expanded CAG repeats underwent neuronal cell death, with only 38%±15% of the MAP2(+) cells remaining at the end of the differentiation period. Cell death was verified by increased caspase 3/7 activity on day 14 of the neuronal differentiation protocol. Interestingly, Hdh knock-out NS cells treated using the same neuronal differentiation protocol showed a dramatic increase in the number of GFAP(+) cells on day 14 (61%±20% versus 24%±10% in controls), and a massive decrease of MAP2(+) neurons (30%±11% versus 64%±17% in controls). Both Hdh CAG knock-in NS cells and Hdh knock-out NS cells showed reduced levels of Bdnf mRNA during neuronal differentiation, in agreement with data obtained previously in HD mouse models and in post-mortem brain samples from HD patients. We concluded that Hdh CAG knock-in and Hdh knock-out NS cells have potential as tools for investigating the roles of normal and mutant HTT in differentiated neurons and glial cells of the brain.
Neurobiology of Disease 10/2012; · 5.62 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship of striatal involvement in Huntington disease (HD) to involvement in other brain regions, CAG repeat size, onset age, and other factors. METHODS: We examined patterns of neuropathologic involvement in 664 HD brains submitted to the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. Brains with concomitant Alzheimer or Parkinson changes (n = 82), more than 20% missing data (n = 46), incomplete sample submission (n = 12), or CAG repeat less than 36 (n = 1) were excluded, leaving 523 cases. Standardized ratings from 0 (absent) to 4 (severe) of gross and microscopic involvement were performed for 50 regions. Cluster analysis reduced the data to 2 main measures of involvement: striatal and cortical. RESULTS: The clusters were correlated with each other (r = 0.42) and with disease duration (striatal: r = 0.35; cortical: r = 0.31). The striatal cluster was correlated with HD repeat size (r = 0.50). The cortical cluster showed a stronger correlation with decreased brain weight (r = -0.52) than the striatal cluster (r = -0.33). The striatal cluster was correlated with younger death age (r = -0.31) and onset age (r = -0.46) while the cortical cluster was not (r = 0.09, r = -0.04, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The 2 brain clusters had different relationships to the HD CAG repeat size, onset age, and brain weight, suggesting that neuropathologic involvement does not proceed in a strictly coupled fashion. The pattern and extent of involvement varies substantially from one brain to the next. These results suggest that regional involvement in HD brain is modified by factors which, if identified, may lend insight into novel routes to therapeutics.
[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: Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, cognitive and behavioral disturbances, caused by the expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat in the HD gene. The CAG allele size is the major determinant of age at onset (AO) of motor symptoms, although the remaining variance in AO is highly heritable. The rs7665116 SNP in PPARGC1A, encoding the mitochondrial regulator PGC-1α, has been reported to be a significant modifier of AO in three European HD cohorts, perhaps due to affected cases from Italy. We attempted to replicate these findings in a large collection of (1,727) HD patient DNA samples of European origin. In the entire cohort, rs7665116 showed a significant effect in the dominant model (p value = 0.008) and the additive model (p value = 0.009). However, when examined by origin, cases of Southern European origin had an increased rs7665116 minor allele frequency (MAF), consistent with this being an ancestry-tagging SNP. The Southern European cases, despite similar mean CAG allele size, had a significantly older mean AO (p < 0.001), suggesting population-dependent phenotype stratification. When the generalized estimating equations models were adjusted for ancestry, the effect of the rs7665116 genotype on AO decreased dramatically. Our results do not support rs7665116 as a modifier of AO of motor symptoms, as we found evidence for a dramatic effect of phenotypic (AO) and genotypic (MAF) stratification among European cohorts that was not considered in previously reported association studies. A significantly older AO in Southern Europe may reflect population differences in genetic or environmental factors that warrant further investigation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG trinucleotide repeat whose length is the major determinant of age at onset but remaining variation appears to be due in part to the effect of genetic modifiers. GRIK2, which encodes GluR6, a mediator of excitatory neurotransmission in the brain, has been suggested in several studies to be a modifier gene based upon a 3' untranslated region TAA trinucleotide repeat polymorphism. Prior to investing in detailed studies of the functional impact of this polymorphism, we sought to confirm its effect on age at onset in a much larger dataset than in previous investigations. We genotyped the HD CAG repeat and the GRIK2 TAA repeat in DNA samples from 2,911 Huntington's disease subjects with known age at onset, and tested for a potential modifier effect of GRIK2 using a variety of statistical approaches. Unlike previous reports, we detected no evidence of an influence of the GRIK2 TAA repeat polymorphism on age at motor onset. Similarly, the GRIK2 polymorphism did not show significant modifier effect on psychiatric and cognitive age at onset in HD. Comprehensive analytical methods applied to a much larger sample than in previous studies do not support a role for GRIK2 as a genetic modifier of age at onset of clinical symptoms in Huntington's disease.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 07/2012; 424(3):404-8. · 2.41 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Potocki-Shaffer syndrome (PSS) is a contiguous gene disorder due to the interstitial deletion of band p11.2 of chromosome 11 and is characterized by multiple exostoses, parietal foramina, intellectual disability (ID), and craniofacial anomalies (CFAs). Despite the identification of individual genes responsible for multiple exostoses and parietal foramina in PSS, the identity of the gene(s) associated with the ID and CFA phenotypes has remained elusive. Through characterization of independent subjects with balanced translocations and supportive comparative deletion mapping of PSS subjects, we have uncovered evidence that the ID and CFA phenotypes are both caused by haploinsufficiency of a single gene, PHF21A, at 11p11.2. PHF21A encodes a plant homeodomain finger protein whose murine and zebrafish orthologs are both expressed in a manner consistent with a function in neurofacial and craniofacial development, and suppression of the latter led to both craniofacial abnormalities and neuronal apoptosis. Along with lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1), PHF21A, also known as BHC80, is a component of the BRAF-histone deacetylase complex that represses target-gene transcription. In lymphoblastoid cell lines from two translocation subjects in whom PHF21A was directly disrupted by the respective breakpoints, we observed derepression of the neuronal gene SCN3A and reduced LSD1 occupancy at the SCN3A promoter, supporting a direct functional consequence of PHF21A haploinsufficiency on transcriptional regulation. Our finding that disruption of PHF21A by translocations in the PSS region is associated with ID adds to the growing list of ID-associated genes that emphasize the critical role of transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodeling in normal brain development and cognitive function.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 07/2012; 91(1):56-72. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL) is a genetically heterogeneous group of lysosomal diseases that collectively compose the most common Mendelian form of childhood-onset neurodegeneration. It is estimated that ∼8% of individuals diagnosed with NCL by conservative clinical and histopathologic criteria have been ruled out for mutations in the nine known NCL-associated genes, suggesting that additional genes remain unidentified. To further understand the genetic underpinnings of the NCLs, we performed whole-exome sequencing on DNA samples from a Mexican family affected by a molecularly undefined form of NCL characterized by infantile-onset progressive myoclonic epilepsy (PME), vision loss, cognitive and motor regression, premature death, and prominent NCL-type storage material. Using a recessive model to filter the identified variants, we found a single homozygous variant, c.550C>T in KCTD7, that causes a p.Arg184Cys missense change in potassium channel tetramerization domain-containing protein 7 (KCTD7) in the affected individuals. The mutation was predicted to be deleterious and was absent in over 6,000 controls. The identified variant altered the localization pattern of KCTD7 and abrogated interaction with cullin-3, a ubiquitin-ligase component and known KCTD7 interactor. Intriguingly, murine cerebellar cells derived from a juvenile NCL model (CLN3) showed enrichment of endogenous KCTD7. Whereas KCTD7 mutations have previously been linked to PME without lysosomal storage, this study clearly demonstrates that KCTD7 mutations also cause a rare, infantile-onset NCL subtype designated as CLN14.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 06/2012; 91(1):202-8. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A higher prevalence of intermediate ataxin-2 CAG repeats in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients has raised the possibility that CAG expansions in other polyglutamine disease genes could contribute to ALS neurodegeneration. We sought to determine whether expansions of the CAG repeat of the HTT gene that causes Huntington's disease, are associated with ALS. We compared the HTT CAG repeat length on a total of 3144 chromosomes from 1572 sporadic ALS patients and 4007 control chromosomes, and also tested its possible effects on ALS-specific parameters, such as age and site of onset and survival rate. Our results show that the CAG repeat in the HTT gene is not a risk factor for ALS nor modifies its clinical presentation. These findings suggest that distinct neuronal degeneration processes are involved in these two different neurodegenerative disorders.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We defined the genetic landscape of balanced chromosomal rearrangements at nucleotide resolution by sequencing 141 breakpoints from cytogenetically interpreted translocations and inversions. We confirm that the recently described phenomenon of 'chromothripsis' (massive chromosomal shattering and reorganization) is not unique to cancer cells but also occurs in the germline, where it can resolve to a relatively balanced state with frequent inversions. We detected a high incidence of complex rearrangements (19.2%) and substantially less reliance on microhomology (31%) than previously observed in benign copy-number variants (CNVs). We compared these results to experimentally generated DNA breakage-repair by sequencing seven transgenic animals, revealing extensive rearrangement of the transgene and host genome with similar complexity to human germline alterations. Inversion was the most common rearrangement, suggesting that a combined mechanism involving template switching and non-homologous repair mediates the formation of balanced complex rearrangements that are viable, stably replicated and transmitted unaltered to subsequent generations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age at the onset of motor symptoms in Huntington disease (HD) is determined largely by the length of a CAG repeat expansion in HTT but is also influenced by other genetic factors. We tested whether common genetic variation near the mutation site is associated with differences in the distribution of expanded CAG alleles or age at the onset of motor symptoms. To define disease-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we compared 4p16.3 SNPs in HD subjects with population controls in a case:control strategy, which revealed that the strongest signals occurred at a great distance from the HD mutation as a result of "synthetic association" with SNP alleles that are of low frequency in population controls. Detailed analysis delineated a prominent ancestral haplotype that accounted for ∼50% of HD chromosomes and extended to at least 938 kb on about half of these. Together, the seven most abundant haplotypes accounted for ∼83% of HD chromosomes. Neither the extended shared haplotype nor the individual local HTT haplotypes were associated with altered CAG-repeat length distribution or residual age at the onset of motor symptoms, arguing against modification of these disease features by common cis-regulatory elements. Similarly, the 11 most frequent control haplotypes showed no trans-modifier effect on age at the onset of motor symptoms. Our results argue against common local regulatory variation as a factor influencing HD pathogenesis, suggesting that genetic modifiers be sought elsewhere in the genome. They also indicate that genome-wide association analysis with a small number of cases can be effective for regional localization of genetic defects, even when a founder effect accounts for only a fraction of the disorder.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 03/2012; 90(3):434-44. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) involves marked early neurodegeneration in the striatum, whereas the cerebellum is relatively spared despite the ubiquitous expression of full-length mutant huntingtin, implying that inherent tissue-specific differences determine susceptibility to the HD CAG mutation. To understand this tissue specificity, we compared early mutant huntingtin-induced gene expression changes in striatum to those in cerebellum in young Hdh CAG knock-in mice, prior to onset of evident pathological alterations. Endogenous levels of full-length mutant huntingtin caused qualitatively similar, but quantitatively different gene expression changes in the two brain regions. Importantly, the quantitatively different responses in the striatum and cerebellum in mutant mice were well accounted for by the intrinsic molecular differences in gene expression between the striatum and cerebellum in wild-type animals. Tissue-specific gene expression changes in response to the HD mutation, therefore, appear to reflect the different inherent capacities of these tissues to buffer qualitatively similar effects of mutant huntingtin. These findings highlight a role for intrinsic quantitative tissue differences in contributing to HD pathogenesis, and likely to other neurodegenerative disorders exhibiting tissue-specificity, thereby guiding the search for effective therapeutic interventions.
Human Molecular Genetics 08/2011; 20(21):4258-67. · 7.69 Impact Factor