Research Article

Exome Sequencing Links Corticospinal Motor Neuron Disease to Common Neurodegenerative Disorders

Science  31 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6170, pp. 506-511
DOI: 10.1126/science.1247363

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Neurodegenerative Genetics

The underlying genetics of neurodegenerative disorders tend not to be well understood. Novarino et al. (p. 506; see the Perspective by Singleton) investigated the underlying genetics of hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), a human neurodegenerative disease, by sequencing the exomes of individuals with recessive neurological disorders. Loss-of-function gene mutations in both novel genes and genes previously implicated for this condition were identified, and several were functionally validated.

Abstract

Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are neurodegenerative motor neuron diseases characterized by progressive age-dependent loss of corticospinal motor tract function. Although the genetic basis is partly understood, only a fraction of cases can receive a genetic diagnosis, and a global view of HSP is lacking. By using whole-exome sequencing in combination with network analysis, we identified 18 previously unknown putative HSP genes and validated nearly all of these genes functionally or genetically. The pathways highlighted by these mutations link HSP to cellular transport, nucleotide metabolism, and synapse and axon development. Network analysis revealed a host of further candidate genes, of which three were mutated in our cohort. Our analysis links HSP to other neurodegenerative disorders and can facilitate gene discovery and mechanistic understanding of disease.

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