The objective was to test the hypothesis that a described association between homozygosity for a 50bp deletion in the SOD1 promoter 1684bp upstream of the SOD1 ATG and an increased age of onset in SALS can be replicated in additional SALS and control sample sets from other populations. Our second objective was to examine whether this deletion attenuates expression of the SOD1 gene. Genomic DNA from more than 1200 SALS cases from Ireland, Scotland, Quebec and the USA was genotyped for the 50bp SOD1 promoter deletion. Reporter gene expression analysis, electrophoretic mobility shift assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation studies were utilized to examine the functional effects of the deletion. The genetic association for homozygosity for the promoter deletion with an increased age of symptom onset was confirmed overall in this further study (p=0.032), although it was only statistically significant in the Irish subset, and remained highly significant in the combined set of all cohorts (p=0.001). Functional studies demonstrated that this polymorphism reduces the activity of the SOD1 promoter by approximately 50%. In addition we revealed that the transcription factor SP1 binds within the 50bp deletion region in vitro and in vivo. Our findings suggest the hypothesis that this deletion reduces expression of the SOD1 gene and that levels of the SOD1 protein may modify the phenotype of SALS within selected populations.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis shares characteristics with some cancers, such as onset being more common in later life, progression usually being rapid, the disease affecting a particular cell type, and showing complex inheritance. We used a model originally applied to cancer epidemiology to investigate the hypothesis that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a multistep process.
We generated incidence data by age and sex from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis population registers in Ireland (registration dates 1995-2012), the Netherlands (2006-12), Italy (1995-2004), Scotland (1989-98), and England (2002-09), and calculated age and sex-adjusted incidences for each register. We regressed the log of age-specific incidence against the log of age with least squares regression. We did the analyses within each register, and also did a combined analysis, adjusting for register.
We identified 6274 cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from a catchment population of about 34 million people. We noted a linear relationship between log incidence and log age in all five registers: England r(2)=0·95, Ireland r(2)=0·99, Italy r(2)=0·95, the Netherlands r(2)=0·99, and Scotland r(2)=0·97; overall r(2)=0·99. All five registers gave similar estimates of the linear slope ranging from 4·5 to 5·1, with overlapping confidence intervals. The combination of all five registers gave an overall slope of 4·8 (95% CI 4·5-5·0), with similar estimates for men (4·6, 4·3-4·9) and women (5·0, 4·5-5·5).
A linear relationship between the log incidence and log age of onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is consistent with a multistage model of disease. The slope estimate suggests that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a six-step process. Identification of these steps could lead to preventive and therapeutic avenues.
UK Medical Research Council; UK Economic and Social Research Council; Ireland Health Research Board; The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw); the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, University, and Research in Italy; the Motor Neurone Disease Association of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland; and the European Commission (Seventh Framework Programme).
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Genetic variations in two hypoxia-inducible angiogenic genes, VEGF and ANG, have been linked with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SALS). Common variations in these genes may reduce the levels or functioning of their products. VEGF and ANG belong to a larger group of angiogenic genes that are up-regulated under hypoxic conditions. We hypothesized that common genetic variation across other members of this group may also predispose to sporadic ALS. To screen other hypoxia-inducible angiogenic genes for association with SALS, we selected 112 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tgSNPs) that captured the common genetic variation across 16 VEGF-like and eight ANG-like hypoxia-inducible genes. Screening for association was performed in 270 Irish individuals with typical SALS and 272 ethnically matched unrelated controls. SNPs showing association in the Irish phase were genotyped in a replication sample of 281 Swedish sporadic ALS patients and 286 Swedish controls. Seven markers showed association in the Irish. The one modest replication signal observed in the Swedish replication sample, at rs3801158 in the gene inhibin beta A, was for the opposite allele vs. the Irish cohort. We failed to detect association of common variation across 24 candidate hypoxia-inducible angiogenic genes with SALS.