13 research outputs found

    Advances in the genetic classification of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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    Purpose of review Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an archetypal complex disease wherein disease risk and severity are, for the majority of patients, the product of interaction between multiple genetic and environmental factors. We are in a period of unprecedented discovery with new large-scale genome-wide association study (GWAS) and accelerating discovery of risk genes. However, much of the observed heritability of ALS is undiscovered and we are not yet approaching elucidation of the total genetic architecture, which will be necessary for comprehensive disease subclassification. Recent findings We summarize recent developments and discuss the future. New machine learning models will help to address nonlinear genetic interactions. Statistical power for genetic discovery may be boosted by reducing the search-space using cell-specific epigenetic profiles and expanding our scope to include genetically correlated phenotypes. Structural variation, somatic heterogeneity and consideration of environmental modifiers represent significant challenges which will require integration of multiple technologies and a multidisciplinary approach, including clinicians, geneticists and pathologists. Summary The move away from fully penetrant Mendelian risk genes necessitates new experimental designs and new standards for validation. The challenges are significant, but the potential reward for successful disease subclassification is large-scale and effective personalized medicine

    Unbiased metabolome screen leads to personalized medicine strategy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects 1/350 individuals in the United Kingdom. The cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is unknown in the majority of cases. Two-sample Mendelian randomization enables causal inference between an exposure, such as the serum concentration of a specific metabolite, and disease risk. We obtained genome-wide association study summary statistics for serum concentrations of 566 metabolites which were population matched with a genome-wide association study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. For each metabolite, we performed Mendelian randomization using an inverse variance weighted estimate for significance testing. After stringent Bonferroni multiple testing correction, our unbiased screen revealed three metabolites that were significantly linked to the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Estrone-3-sulphate and bradykinin were protective, which is consistent with literature describing a male preponderance of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and a preventive effect of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors which inhibit the breakdown of bradykinin. Serum isoleucine was positively associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis risk. All three metabolites were supported by robust Mendelian randomization measures and sensitivity analyses; estrone-3-sulphate and isoleucine were confirmed in a validation amyotrophic lateral sclerosis genome-wide association study. Estrone-3-sulphate is metabolized to the more active estradiol by the enzyme 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1; further, Mendelian randomization demonstrated a protective effect of estradiol and rare variant analysis showed that missense variants within HSD17B1, the gene encoding 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1, modify risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Finally, in a zebrafish model of C9ORF72-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we present evidence that estradiol is neuroprotective. Isoleucine is metabolized via methylmalonyl-CoA mutase encoded by the gene MMUT in a reaction that consumes vitamin B12. Multivariable Mendelian randomization revealed that the toxic effect of isoleucine is dependent on the depletion of vitamin B12; consistent with this, rare variants which reduce the function of MMUT are protective against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We propose that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients and family members with high serum isoleucine levels should be offered supplementation with vitamin B12

    Genome-wide identification of the genetic basis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a complex disease that leads to motor neuron death. Despite heritability estimates of 52%, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have discovered relatively few loci. We developed a machine learning approach called RefMap, which integrates functional genomics with GWAS summary statistics for gene discovery. With transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling of motor neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), RefMap identified 690 ALS-associated genes that represent a 5-fold increase in recovered heritability. Extensive conservation, transcriptome, network, and rare variant analyses demonstrated the functional significance of candidate genes in healthy and diseased motor neurons and brain tissues. Genetic convergence between common and rare variation highlighted KANK1 as a new ALS gene. Reproducing KANK1 patient mutations in human neurons led to neurotoxicity and demonstrated that TDP-43 mislocalization, a hallmark pathology of ALS, is downstream of axonal dysfunction. RefMap can be readily applied to other complex diseases

    CHCHD10 variants in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: where Is the evidence?

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    Objective: After the initial report of a CHCHD10 mutation in mitochondrial disease with features resembling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), CHCHD10 mutations have been considered to be a frequent cause for ALS. However, the exact pathogenicity and clinical significance of these mutations remain unclear. Here, we aimed to determine the role of CHCHD10 mutations in ALS. Methods: We analyzed 4,365 whole genome sequenced ALS patients and 1,832 controls from 7 different countries and examined all nonsynonymous single nucleotide variants in CHCHD10. These were tested for association with ALS, independently and in aggregate using several genetic burden tests (including sequence kernel association test [SKAT], optimal unified test [SKAT-O], and Firth logistic regression). Results: We identified 3 new variants in cases, but only 1 was ALS-specific. lso, 1 control-specific mutation was identified. There was no increased burden of rare coding mutations among ALS patients compared to controls (p=0.86, p=0.86, and p=0.88 for SKAT, SKAT-O, and Firth, respectively). The few carriers with potential pathogenic CHCHD10 mutations exhibited a slowly progressive ALS-like phenotype with atypical features such as myopathy and deafness. Interpretation: CHCHD10 mutations seem to be a far less prevalent cause of pure ALS than previously suggested, and instead appear related to more complex phenotypes. There appears to be insufficient evidence for the pathogenicity of most previously reported variants in pure ALS. This study shows that routine testing for CHCHD10 mutations in pure ALS is not recommended and illustrates the importance of sufficient genetic and functional evidence in establishing pathogenicity of genetic variants

    Project MinE: study design and pilot analyses of a large-scale whole-genome sequencing study in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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    The most recent genome-wide association study in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) demonstrates a disproportionate contribution from low-frequency variants to genetic susceptibility to disease. We have therefore begun Project MinE, an international collaboration that seeks to analyze whole-genome sequence data of at least 15 000 ALS patients and 7500 controls. Here, we report on the design of Project MinE and pilot analyses of successfully sequenced 1169 ALS patients and 608 controls drawn from the Netherlands. As has become characteristic of sequencing studies, we find an abundance of rare genetic variation (minor allele frequency < 0.1%), the vast majority of which is absent in public datasets. Principal component analysis reveals local geographical clustering of these variants within The Netherlands. We use the whole-genome sequence data to explore the implications of poor geographical matching of cases and controls in a sequence-based disease study and to investigate how ancestry-matched, externally sequenced controls can induce false positive associations. Also, we have publicly released genome-wide minor allele counts in cases and controls, as well as results from genic burden tests

    Multiomic analysis reveals cell-type-specific molecular determinants of COVID-19 severity

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    The determinants of severe COVID-19 in healthy adults are poorly understood, which limits the opportunity for early intervention. We present a multiomic analysis using machine learning to characterize the genomic basis of COVID-19 severity. We use single-cell multiome profiling of human lungs to link genetic signals to cell-type-specific functions. We discover >1,000 risk genes across 19 cell types, which account for 77% of the SNP-based heritability for severe disease. Genetic risk is particularly focused within natural killer (NK) cells and T cells, placing the dysfunction of these cells upstream of severe disease. Mendelian randomization and single-cell profiling of human NK cells support the role of NK cells and further localize genetic risk to CD56bright NK cells, which are key cytokine producers during the innate immune response. Rare variant analysis confirms the enrichment of severe-disease-associated genetic variation within NK-cell risk genes. Our study provides insights into the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 with potential therapeutic targets

    Whole-genome sequencing reveals that variants in the Interleukin 18 Receptor Accessory Protein 3'UTR protect against ALS

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    The noncoding genome is substantially larger than the protein-coding genome but has been largely unexplored by genetic association studies. Here, we performed region-based rare variant association analysis of >25,000 variants in untranslated regions of 6,139 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) whole genomes and the whole genomes of 70,403 non-ALS controls. We identified interleukin-18 receptor accessory protein (IL18RAP) 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) variants as significantly enriched in non-ALS genomes and associated with a fivefold reduced risk of developing ALS, and this was replicated in an independent cohort. These variants in the IL18RAP 3′UTR reduce mRNA stability and the binding of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-binding proteins. Finally, the variants of the IL18RAP 3′UTR confer a survival advantage for motor neurons because they dampen neurotoxicity of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived microglia bearing an ALS-associated expansion in C9orf72, and this depends on NF-κB signaling. This study reveals genetic variants that protect against ALS by reducing neuroinflammation and emphasizes the importance of noncoding genetic association studies

    Genome-wide study of DNA methylation shows alterations in metabolic, inflammatory, and cholesterol pathways in ALS

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    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with an estimated heritability between 40 and 50%. DNA methylation patterns can serve as proxies of (past) exposures and disease progression, as well as providing a potential mechanism that mediates genetic or environmental risk. Here, we present a blood-based epigenome-wide association study meta-analysis in 9706 samples passing stringent quality control (6763 patients, 2943 controls). We identified a total of 45 differentially methylated positions (DMPs) annotated to 42 genes, which are enriched for pathways and traits related to metabolism, cholesterol biosynthesis, and immunity. We then tested 39 DNA methylation–based proxies of putative ALS risk factors and found that high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, body mass index, white blood cell proportions, and alcohol intake were independently associated with ALS. Integration of these results with our latest genome-wide association study showed that cholesterol biosynthesis was potentially causally related to ALS. Last, DNA methylation at several DMPs and blood cell proportion estimates derived from DNA methylation data were associated with survival rate in patients, suggesting that they might represent indicators of underlying disease processes potentially amenable to therapeutic interventions
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