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 (ALS) is a devastating neurological disorder characterized by the degeneration of motor neurons and typically results in death within 3-5 years from onset. Familial ALS (FALS) comprises 5%-10% of ALS cases, and the identification of genes associated with FALS is indispensable to elucidating the molecular pathogenesis. We identified a Japanese family affected by late-onset, autosomal-dominant ALS in which mutations in genes known to be associated with FALS were excluded. A whole- genome sequencing and parametric linkage analysis under the assumption of an autosomal-dominant mode of inheritance with incomplete penetrance revealed the mutation c.2780G>A (p. Arg927Gln) in ERBB4. An extensive mutational analysis revealed the same mutation in a Canadian individual with familial ALS and a de novo mutation, c.3823C>T (p. Arg1275Trp), in a Japanese simplex case. These amino acid substitutions involve amino acids highly conserved among species, are predicted as probably damaging, and are located within a tyrosine kinase domain (p. Arg927Gln) or a C-terminal domain (p. Arg1275Trp), both of which mediate essential functions of ErbB4 as a receptor tyrosine kinase. Functional analysis revealed that these mutations led to a reduced autophosphorylation of ErbB4 upon neuregulin-1 (NRG-1) stimulation. Clinical presentations of the individuals with mutations were characterized by the involvement of both upper and lower motor neurons, a lack of obvious cognitive dysfunction, and relatively slow progression. This study indicates that disruption of the neuregulin-ErbB4 pathway is involved in the pathogenesis of ALS and potentially paves the way for the development of innovative therapeutic strategies such using NRGs or their agonists to upregulate ErbB4 functions.
Cites: Nature. 2012 Aug 23;488(7412):471-522914163
Cites: J Biol Chem. 2012 Jun 29;287(27):23216-2622584572
Cites: Nature. 2012 May 10;485(7397):237-4122495306
A series of studies suggests that susceptibility to ALS may be influenced by variants in multiple genes. While analyses of the 10% of cases of familial origin have identified more than 33 monogenic ALS-causing genetic defects, little is known about genetic factors that influence susceptibility or phenotype in sporadic ALS (SALS). We and others conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in a cohort of 1014 ALS cases from Western Europe, England and the United States, and identified an intronic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1541160 in the KIFAP3 gene that was statistically associated with improved survival. We have now completed an additional survival analysis examining the impact of the rs1541160 genotype in a cohort of 264 ALS and progressive bulbar palsy (PBP) cases. In the combined cohort of 264 patients, the CC, CT and TT genotypes for rs1541160 were detected, respectively, in 8.3% (22), 41.7% (110) and 50.0% (132). This study does not show an influence of KIFAP3 variants on survival in the studied Swiss and Swedish cohort. There was a difference in survival between the US and English patients and the patients from the Netherlands. The effect of KIFAP3 variants may be population specific, or the rs1541160 association reported previously may have been a false-positive.