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.
Mutations in the superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene have been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A 50 base pair (bp) deletion of SOD1 has been suggested to reduce transcription and to be associated with later disease onset in ALS. This study was aimed to reveal if the 50?bp deletion influenced SOD1 enzymatic activity, occurrence and phenotype of the disease in a Swedish ALS/control cohort. Blood samples from 512 Swedish ALS patients and 354 Swedish controls without coding SOD1 mutations were analysed for the 50?bp deletion allele. The enzymatic activity of SOD1 in erythrocytes was analysed and genotype-phenotype correlations were assessed. Results demonstrated that the genotype frequencies of the 50?bp deletion were all found to be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. No significant differences were found for age of onset, disease duration or site of onset. SOD1 enzymatic activity showed a statistically significant decreasing trend in the control group, in which the allele was associated with a 5% reduction in SOD1 activity. The results suggest that the 50?bp deletion has a moderate reducing effect on SOD1 synthesis. No modulating effects, however, were found on ALS onset, phenotype and survival in the Swedish population.
The genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not well understood. Finland is a well suited location for a genome-wide association study of ALS because the incidence of the disease is one of the highest in the world, and because the genetic homogeneity of the Finnish population enhances the ability to detect risk loci. We aimed to identify genetic risk factors for ALS in the Finnish population.
We did a genome-wide association study of Finnish patients with ALS and control individuals by use of Illumina genome-wide genotyping arrays. DNA was collected from patients who attended an ALS specialty clinic that receives referrals from neurologists throughout Finland. Control samples were from a population-based study of elderly Finnish individuals. Patients known to carry D90A alleles of the SOD1 gene (n=40) were included in the final analysis as positive controls to assess whether our genome-wide association study was able to detect an association signal at this locus.
We obtained samples from 442 patients with ALS and 521 control individuals. After quality control filters were applied, 318?167 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 405 people with ALS and 497 control individuals were available for analysis. We identified two association peaks that exceeded genome-wide significance. One was located on chromosome 21q22 (rs13048019, p=2·58×10(-8)), which corresponds to the autosomal recessive D90A allele of the SOD1 gene. The other was detected in a 232 kb block of linkage disequilibrium (rs3849942, p=9·11×10(-11)) in a region of chromosome 9p that was previously identified in linkage studies of families with ALS. Within this region, we defined a 42-SNP haplotype that was associated with significantly increased risk of ALS (p=7·47×10(-33) when people with familial ALS were compared with controls, odds ratio 21·0, 95% CI 11·2-39·1) and which overlapped with an association locus recently reported for frontotemporal dementia. For the 93 patients with familial ALS, the population attributable risk for the chromosome 9p21 locus was 37·9% (95% CI 27·7-48·1) and that for D90A homozygosity was 25·5% (16·9-34·1).
The chromosome 9p21 locus is a major cause of familial ALS in the Finnish population. Our data suggest the presence of a founder mutation for chromosome 9p21-linked ALS. Furthermore, the overlap with the risk haplotype recently reported for frontotemporal dementia provides further evidence of a shared genetic cause for these two neurodegenerative diseases.
National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Aging, Microsoft Research, ALS Association, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finnish Academy, Finnish Medical Society Duodecim, and Kuopio University.
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