Corticobasal degeneration typically progresses gradually over 5-7 years from onset till death. Fulminant corticobasal degeneration cases with a rapidly progressive course were rarely reported (RP-CBD). This study aimed to investigate their neuropathological characteristics. Of the 124 autopsy-confirmed corticobasal degeneration cases collected from 14 centres, we identified 6 RP-CBD cases (4.8%) who died of advanced disease within 3 years of onset. These RP-CBD cases had different clinical phenotypes including rapid global cognitive decline (N = 2), corticobasal syndrome (N = 2) and Richardson's syndrome (N = 2). We also studied four corticobasal degeneration cases with an average disease duration of 3 years or less, who died of another unrelated illness (Intermediate-CBD). Finally, we selected 12 age-matched corticobasal degeneration cases out of a cohort of 110, who had a typical gradually progressive course and reached advanced clinical stage (End-stage-CBD). Quantitative analysis showed high overall tau burden (p = 0.2) and severe nigral cell loss (p = 0.47) in both the RP-CBD and End-stage-CBD groups consistent with advanced pathological changes, while the Intermediate-CBD group (mean disease duration = 3 years) had milder changes than End-stage-CBD (p < 0.05). These findings indicated that RP-CBD cases had already developed advanced pathological changes as those observed in End-stage-CBD cases (mean disease duration = 6.7 years), but within a significantly shorter duration (2.5 years; p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis was performed to investigate the cellular patterns of tau aggregates in the anterior frontal cortex and caudate by comparing neuronal-to-astrocytic plaque ratios between six RP-CBD cases, four Intermediate-CBD and 12 age-matched End-stage-CBD. Neuronal-to-astrocytic plaque ratios of Intermediate-CBD and End-stage-CBD, but not RP-CBD, positively correlated with disease duration in both the anterior frontal cortex and caudate (p = 0.02). In contrast to the predominance of astrocytic plaques we previously reported in preclinical asymptomatic corticobasal degeneration cases, neuronal tau aggregates predominated in RP-CBD exceeding those in Intermediate-CBD (anterior frontal cortex: p < 0.001, caudate: p = 0.001) and End-stage-CBD (anterior frontal cortex: p = 0.03, caudate: p = 0.01) as demonstrated by its higher neuronal-to-astrocytic plaque ratios in both anterior frontal cortex and caudate. We did not identify any difference in age at onset, any pathogenic tau mutation or concomitant pathologies that could have contributed to the rapid progression of these RP-CBD cases. Mild TDP-43 pathology was observed in three RP-CBD cases. All RP-CBD cases were men. The MAPT H2 haplotype, known to be protective, was identified in one RP-CBD case (17%) and 8 of the matched End-stage-CBD cases (67%). We conclude that RP-CBD is a distinct aggressive variant of corticobasal degeneration with characteristic neuropathological substrates resulting in a fulminant disease process as evident both clinically and pathologically. Biological factors such as genetic modifiers likely play a pivotal role in the RP-CBD variant and should be the subject of future research.
Epidemiologic studies have reported inconsistent results regarding an association between Parkinson disease (PD) and cutaneous melanoma (melanoma). Identifying shared genetic architecture between these diseases can support epidemiologic findings and identify common risk genes and biological pathways. Here, we apply polygenic, linkage disequilibrium-informed methods to the largest available case-control, genome-wide association study summary statistic data for melanoma and PD. We identify positive and significant genetic correlation (correlation: 0.17, 95% CI 0.10-0.24; P = 4.09 x 10(-06)) between melanoma and PD. We further demonstrate melanoma and PD-inferred gene expression to overlap across tissues (correlation: 0.14, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.22; P = 7.87 x 10(-04)) and highlight seven genes including PIEZO1, TRAPPC2L, and SOX6 as potential mediators of the genetic correlation between melanoma and PD. These findings demonstrate specific, shared genetic architecture between PD and melanoma that manifests at the level of gene expression.
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory, demyelinating, and neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS) triggered by autoimmune mechanisms. Microglia are critical for the clearance of myelin debris in areas of demyelination, a key step to allow remyelination. TREM2 is expressed by microglia and promotes microglial survival, proliferation, and phagocytic activity. Herein we demonstrate that TREM2 was highly expressed on myelin-laden phagocytes in active demyelinating lesions in the CNS of subjects with MS. In gene expression studies, macrophages from subjects with TREM2 genetic deficiency displayed a defect in phagocytic pathways. Treatment with a new TREM2 agonistic antibody promoted the clearance of myelin debris in the cuprizone model of CNS demyelination. Effects included enhancement of myelin uptake and degradation, resulting in accelerated myelin debris removal by microglia. Most importantly, antibody-dependent TREM2 activation on microglia increased density of oligodendrocyte precursors in areas of demyelination, as well as the formation of mature oligodendrocytes thus enhancing remyelination and axonal integrity. These results are relevant as they propose TREM2 on microglia as a potential new target to promote remyelination.
Beta-amyloid deposition is a defining feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD). How genetic risk factors, likeAPOEandTREM2, intersect with cellular responses to beta-amyloid in human tissues is not fully understood. Using single-nucleus RNA sequencing of postmortem human brain with variedAPOEandTREM2genotypes and neuropathology, we identified distinct microglia subpopulations, including a subpopulation of CD163-positive amyloid-responsive microglia (ARM) that are depleted in cases withAPOEandTREM2risk variants. We validated our single-nucleus RNA sequencing findings in an expanded cohort of AD cases, demonstrating thatAPOEandTREM2risk variants are associated with a significant reduction in CD163-positive amyloid-responsive microglia. Our results showcase the diverse microglial response in AD and underscore how genetic risk factors influence cellular responses to underlying pathologies.
Pituitary adenoma (PA) is one of the most common intracranial tumors, and approximately 40% of all PAs are prolactinomas. Dopamine agonists (DAs), such as cabergoline (CAB), have been successfully used in the treatment of prolactinomas. The expression of dopamine type 2 receptor (DRD2) determines the therapeutic effect of DAs, but the molecular mechanisms of DRD2 regulation are not fully understood. In this study, we first demonstrated that DRD2 underwent proteasome-mediated degradation. We further employed the yeast two-hybrid system and identified kelch repeat and BTB (POZ) domain containing 7 (KBTBD7), a substrate adaptor for the CUL3-RING ubiquitin (Ub) ligase complex, as a DRD2-interacting protein. KBTBD6/7 directly interacted with, and ubiquitinated DRD2 at five ubiquitination sites (K221, K226, K241, K251, and K258). CAB, a high-affinity DRD2 agonist, induced DRD2 internalization, and cytoplasmic DRD2 was degraded via ubiquitination under the control of KBTBD6/7, the activity of which attenuated CAB-mediated inhibition of the AKT/mTOR pathway. KBTBD7 knockout (KO) mice were generated using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique, in which the static level of DRD2 protein was elevated in the pituitary gland, thalamus, and heart, compared to that of WT mice. Consistently, the expression of KBTBD6/7 was negatively correlated with that of DRD2 in human pituitary tumors. Moreover, KBTBD7 was highly expressed in dopamine-resistant prolactinomas, but at low levels in dopamine-sensitive prolactinomas. Knockdown of KBTBD6/7 sensitized MMQ cells and primary pituitary tumor cells to CAB treatment. Conversely, KBTBD7 overexpression increased CAB resistance of estrogen-induced in situ rat prolactinoma model. Together, our findings have uncovered the novel mechanism of DRD2 protein degradation and shown that the KBTBD6/7-DRD2 axis regulates PA sensitivity to DA treatment. KBTBD6/7 may thus become a promising therapeutic target for pituitary tumors.
Mislocalization and abnormal deposition of TDP-43 into the cytoplasm (TDP-43 proteinopathy) is a hallmark in neurons of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). However, the pathogenic mechanism of the diseases linked to TDP-43 is largely unknown. We hypothesized that the failure of mRNA transport to neuronal axons by TDP-43 may contribute to neurodegeneration in ALS and FTLD, and sought to examine the function of TDP-43 by identifying its target mRNA for axonal transport. We found that mRNAs related to translational function including ribosomal proteins (RPs) were decreased by shRNA-based TDP-43 knock-down in neurites of cortical neurons. TDP-43 binds to and transports the RP mRNAs through their 5 ' untranslated region, which contains a common 5 ' terminal oligopyrimidine tract motif and a downstream GC-rich region. We showed by employing in vitro and in vivo models that the RP mRNAs were translated and incorporated into native ribosomes locally in axons to maintain functionality of axonal ribosomes, which is required for local protein synthesis in response to stimulation and stress to axons. We also found that RP mRNAs were reduced in the pyramidal tract of sporadic ALS cases harboring TDP-43 pathology. Our results elucidated a novel function of TDP-43 to control transport of RP mRNAs and local translation by ribosomes to maintain morphological integrity of neuronal axons, and proved the influence of this function of TDP-43 on neurodegeneration in ALS and FTLD associated with TDP-43 proteinopathy.
Apart from amyloid beta deposition and tau neurofibrillary tangles, Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by neuronal loss and astrocytosis in the cerebral cortex. The goal of this study is to investigate genetic factors associated with the neuronal proportion in health and disease. To identify cell-autonomous genetic variants associated with neuronal proportion in cortical tissues, we inferred cellular population structure from bulk RNA-Seq derived from 1536 individuals. We identified the variant rs1990621 located in the TMEM106B gene region as significantly associated with neuronal proportion (p value = 6.40 x 10(-07)) and replicated this finding in an independent dataset (p value = 7.41 x 10(-04)) surpassing the genome-wide threshold in the meta-analysis (p value = 9.42 x 10(-09)). This variant is in high LD with the TMEM106B non-synonymous variant p.T185S (rs3173615; r(2) = 0.98) which was previously identified as a protective variant for frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). We stratified the samples by disease status, and discovered that this variant modulates neuronal proportion not only in AD cases, but also several neurodegenerative diseases and in elderly cognitively healthy controls. Furthermore, we did not find a significant association in younger controls or schizophrenia patients, suggesting that this variant might increase neuronal survival or confer resilience to the neurodegenerative process. The single variant and gene-based analyses also identified an overall genetic association between neuronal proportion, AD and FTLD risk. These results suggest that common pathways are implicated in these neurodegenerative diseases, that implicate neuronal survival. In summary, we identified a protective variant in the TMEM106B gene that may have a neuronal protection effect against general aging, independent of disease status, which could help elucidate the relationship between aging and neuronal survival in the presence or absence of neurodegenerative disorders. Our findings suggest that TMEM106B could be a potential target for neuronal protection therapies to ameliorate cognitive and functional deficits.
Brainstem gliomas are molecularly heterogeneous diseases, many of which are difficult to safely surgically resect and have limited treatment options due to their eloquent location. These constraints pose challenges to biopsy, which limits the use of routine molecular profiling and identification of personalized therapies. Here, we explored the potential of sequencing of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of brainstem glioma patients as a less invasive approach for tumor molecular profiling. CSF was obtained from patients either intraoperatively (91.2%, 52/57), from ventricular-peritoneal shunt (3.5%, 2/57), or by lumbar puncture (5.3%, 3/57), all prior to surgical manipulation of the tumor. Deep sequencing of glioma-associated genes was performed on CSF-derived ctDNA and, where available, matched blood and tumor DNA from 57 patients, including nine medullary and 23 diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG). At least one tumor-specific mutation was detected in over 82.5% of CSF ctDNA samples (47/57). In cases with primary tumors harboring at least one mutation, alterations were identified in the CSF ctDNA of 97.3% of cases (36/37). In over 83% (31/37) of cases, all primary tumor alterations were detected in the CSF, and in 91.9% (34/37) of cases, at least half of the alterations were identified. Among ten patients found to have primary tumors negative for mutations, 30% (3/10) had detectable somatic alterations in the CSF. Finally, mutation detection using plasma ctDNA was less sensitive than sequencing the CSF ctDNA (38% vs. 100%, respectively). Our study indicates that deep sequencing of CSF ctDNA is a reliable technique for detecting tumor-specific alterations in brainstem tumors. This approach may offer an alternative approach to stereotactic biopsy for molecular profiling of brainstem tumors.
The cytoplasmic accumulation of the nuclear TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a pathologic hallmark in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and other neurological disorders. However, most transgenic TDP-43 rodent models show predominant nuclear distribution of TDP-43 in the brain. By expressing mutant TDP-43 (M337V) in the brains of rhesus monkeys and mice, we verified that mutant TDP-43 is distributed in the cytoplasm of the monkey brain and that the majority of mutant TDP-43 remains in the nuclei of the mouse brain. The primate-specific caspase-4, but not mouse homologue caspase-11, could remove the NLS-containing N-terminal domain and generate fragmented TDP-43 that accumulates in the cytoplasm. Moreover, increased expression of caspase-4 in the monkey brain promotes the cytoplasmic accumulation of endogenous TDP-43, and suppressing caspase-4 reduces the cytoplasmic distribution of endogenous TDP-43 in cultured human neural cells. Our findings suggest that primate-specific caspase-4-mediated cleavage of TDP-43 accounts for its cytoplasmic mislocalization in the primate brains and may serve as a potential therapeutic target.
Pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs) consist of a number of entities with overlapping histological features. PLGGs have much better prognosis than the adult counterparts, but a significant proportion of PLGGs suffers from tumor progression and recurrence. It has been shown that pediatric and adult low-grade gliomas are molecularly distinct. Yet the clinical significance of some of newer biomarkers discovered by genomic studies has not been fully investigated. In this study, we evaluated in a large cohort of 289 PLGGs a list of biomarkers and examined their clinical relevance. TERT promoter (TERTp), H3F3A and BRAF V600E mutations were detected by direct sequencing. ATRX nuclear loss was examined by immunohistochemistry. CDKN2A deletion, KIAA1549-BRAF fusion, and MYB amplification were determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). TERTp, H3F3A, and BRAF V600E mutations were identified in 2.5, 6.4, and 7.4% of PLGGs, respectively. ATRX loss was found in 4.9% of PLGGs. CDKN2A deletion, KIAA1549-BRAF fusion and MYB amplification were detected in 8.8, 32.0 and 10.6% of PLGGs, respectively. Survival analysis revealed that TERTp mutation, H3F3A mutation, and ATRX loss were significantly associated with poor PFS (p <0.0001, p < 0.0001, and p = 0.0002) and OS (p <0.0001, p < 0.0001, and p < 0.0001). BRAF V600E was associated with shorter PFS (p = 0.011) and OS (p = 0.032) in a subset of PLGGs. KIAA1549-BRAF fusion was a good prognostic marker for longer PFS (p = 0.0017) and OS (p = 0.0029). MYB amplification was also a favorable marker for a longer PFS (p = 0.040). Importantly, we showed that these molecular biomarkers can be used to stratify PLGGs into low- (KIAA1549-BRAF fusion or MYB amplification), intermediate-I (BRAF V600E and/or CDKN2A deletion), intermediate-II (no biomarker), and high-risk (TERTp or H3F3A mutation or ATRX loss) groups with distinct PFS (p < 0.0001) and OS (p < 0.0001). This scheme should aid in clinical decision-making.
Manycentral nervous system diseases currently lack effective treatment and are often associated with defects in microvascular function, including a failure to match the energy supplied by the blood to the energy used on neuronal computation, or a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. Pericytes, an under-studied cell type located on capillaries, are of crucial importance in regulating diverse microvascular functions, such as angiogenesis, the blood-brain barrier, capillary blood flow and the movement of immune cells into the brain. They also form part of the glial scar isolating damaged parts of the CNS, and may have stem cell-like properties. Recent studies have suggested that pericytes play a crucial role in neurological diseases, and are thus a therapeutic target in disorders as diverse as stroke, traumatic brain injury, migraine, epilepsy, spinal cord injury, diabetes, Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, glioma, radiation necrosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Here we report recent advances in our understanding of pericyte biology and discuss how pericytes could be targeted to develop novel therapeutic approaches to neurological disorders, by increasing blood flow, preserving blood-brain barrier function, regulating immune cell entry to the CNS, and modulating formation of blood vessels in, and the glial scar around, damaged regions.