Characterization of a large group of individuals with huntington disease and their relatives enrolled in the COHORT study.
ABSTRACT: Careful characterization of the phenotype and genotype of Huntington disease (HD) can foster better understanding of the condition.We conducted a cohort study in the United States, Canada, and Australia of members of families affected by HD. We collected demographic and clinical data, conducted the Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale and Mini-Mental State Examination, and determined Huntingtin trinucleotide CAG repeat length. We report primarily on cross-sectional baseline data from this recently completed prospective, longitudinal, observational study.As of December 31, 2009, 2,318 individuals enrolled; of these, 1,985 (85.6%) were classified into six analysis groups. Three groups had expanded CAG alleles (36 repeats or more): individuals with clinically diagnosed HD [n?=?930], and clinically unaffected first-degree relatives who had previously pursued [n?=?248] or not pursued [n?=?112] predictive DNA testing. Three groups lacked expanded alleles: first-degree relatives who had previously pursued [n?=?41] or not pursued [n?=?224] genetic testing, and spouses and caregivers [n?=?430]. Baseline mean performance differed across groups in all motor, behavioral, cognitive, and functional measures (p<0.001). Clinically unaffected individuals with expanded alleles weighed less (76.0 vs. 79.6 kg; p?=?0.01) and had lower cognitive scores (28.5 vs. 29.1 on the Mini Mental State Examination; p?=?0.008) than individuals without expanded alleles. The frequency of "high normal" repeat lengths (27 to 35) was 2.5% and repeat lengths associated with reduced penetrance (36 to 39) was 2.7%.Baseline analysis of COHORT study participants revealed differences that emerge prior to clinical diagnosis. Longitudinal investigation of this cohort will further characterize the natural history of HD and genetic and biological modifiers.Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00313495.
SUBMITTER: Huntington Study Group COHORT Investigators
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>To directly estimate the frequency and penetrance of CAG repeat alleles associated with Huntington disease (HD) in the general population.<h4>Methods</h4>CAG repeat length was evaluated in 7,315 individuals from 3 population-based cohorts from British Columbia, the United States, and Scotland. The frequency of ?36 CAG alleles was assessed out of a total of 14,630 alleles. The general population frequency of reduced penetrance alleles (36-39 CAG) was compared to the prevalence of patients with HD with genetically confirmed 36-39 CAG from a multisource clinical ascertainment in British Columbia, Canada. The penetrance of 36-38 CAG repeat alleles for HD was estimated for individuals ?65 years of age and compared against previously reported clinical penetrance estimates.<h4>Results</h4>A total of 18 of 7,315 individuals had ?36 CAG, revealing that approximately 1 in 400 individuals from the general population have an expanded CAG repeat associated with HD (0.246%). Individuals with CAG 36-37 genotypes are the most common (36, 0.096%; 37, 0.082%; 38, 0.027%; 39, 0.000%; ?40, 0.041%). General population CAG 36-38 penetrance rates are lower than penetrance rates extrapolated from clinical cohorts.<h4>Conclusion</h4>HD alleles with a CAG repeat length of 36-38 occur at high frequency in the general population. The infrequent diagnosis of HD at this CAG length is likely due to low penetrance. Another important contributing factor may be reduced ascertainment of HD in those of older age.
Project description:Huntington disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder resulting from the expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Worldwide prevalence varies geographically with the highest figures reported in populations of European ancestry. HD in South Africa has been reported in Caucasian, black and mixed subpopulations, with similar estimated prevalence in the Caucasian and mixed groups and a lower estimate in the black subpopulation. Recent studies have associated specific HTT haplotypes with HD in distinct populations. Expanded HD alleles in Europe occur predominantly on haplogroup A (specifically high-risk variants A1/A2), whereas in East Asian populations, HD alleles are associated with haplogroup C. Whether specific HTT haplotypes associate with HD in black Africans and how these compare with haplotypes found in European and East Asian populations remains unknown. The current study genotyped the HTT region in unaffected individuals and HD patients from each of the South African subpopulations, and haplotypes were constructed. CAG repeat sizes were determined and phased to haplotype. Results indicate that HD alleles from Caucasian and mixed patients are predominantly associated with haplogroup A, signifying a similar European origin for HD. However, in black patients, HD occurs predominantly on haplogroup B, suggesting several distinct origins of the mutation in South Africa. The absence of high-risk variants (A1/A2) in the black subpopulation may also explain the reported low prevalence of HD. Identification of haplotypes associated with HD-expanded alleles is particularly relevant to the development of population-specific therapeutic targets for selective suppression of the expanded HTT transcript.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>Age at onset of diagnostic motor manifestations in Huntington disease (HD) is strongly correlated with an expanded CAG trinucleotide repeat. The length of the normal CAG repeat allele has been reported also to influence age at onset, in interaction with the expanded allele. Due to profound implications for disease mechanism and modification, we tested whether the normal allele, interaction between the expanded and normal alleles, or presence of a second expanded allele affects age at onset of HD motor signs.<h4>Methods</h4>We modeled natural log-transformed age at onset as a function of CAG repeat lengths of expanded and normal alleles and their interaction by linear regression.<h4>Results</h4>An apparently significant effect of interaction on age at motor onset among 4,068 subjects was dependent on a single outlier data point. A rigorous statistical analysis with a well-behaved dataset that conformed to the fundamental assumptions of linear regression (e.g., constant variance and normally distributed error) revealed significance only for the expanded CAG repeat, with no effect of the normal CAG repeat. Ten subjects with 2 expanded alleles showed an age at motor onset consistent with the length of the larger expanded allele.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Normal allele CAG length, interaction between expanded and normal alleles, and presence of a second expanded allele do not influence age at onset of motor manifestations, indicating that the rate of HD pathogenesis leading to motor diagnosis is determined by a completely dominant action of the longest expanded allele and as yet unidentified genetic or environmental factors.
Project description:The huntingtin protein participates in several cellular processes that are disrupted when the polyglutamine tract is expanded beyond a threshold of 37 CAG DNA repeats in Huntington's disease (HD). Cellular biology approaches to understand these functional disruptions in HD have primarily focused on cell lines with synthetically long CAG length alleles that clinically represent outliers in this disease and a more severe form of HD that lacks age onset. Patient-derived fibroblasts are limited to a finite number of passages before succumbing to cellular senescence. We used human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) to immortalize fibroblasts taken from individuals of varying age, sex, disease onset, and CAG repeat length, which we have termed TruHD cells. TruHD cells display classic HD phenotypes of altered morphology, size and growth rate, increased sensitivity to oxidative stress, aberrant adenosine diphosphate/adenosine triphosphate (ADP/ATP) ratios, and hypophosphorylated huntingtin protein. We additionally observed dysregulated reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent huntingtin localization to nuclear speckles in HD cells. We report the generation and characterization of a human, clinically relevant cellular model for investigating disease mechanisms in HD at the single-cell level, which, unlike transformed cell lines, maintains functions critical for huntingtin transcriptional regulation and genomic integrity.
Project description:The expanded CAG repeat number in <i>HTT</i> gene causes Huntington disease (HD), which is a severe, dominant neurodegenerative illness. The accurate determination of the expanded allele size is crucial to confirm the genetic status in symptomatic and presymptomatic at-risk subjects and avoid genetic polymorphism-related false-negative diagnoses. Precise CAG repeat number determination is critical to discriminate the cutoff between unexpanded and intermediate mutable alleles (IAs, 27-35 CAG) as well as between IAs and pathological, low-penetrance alleles (i.e., 36-39 CAG repeats), and it is also critical to detect large repeat expansions causing pediatric HD variants. We analyzed the <i>HTT</i>-CAG repeat number of 14 DNA reference materials and of a DNA collection of 43 additional samples carrying unexpanded, IAs, low and complete penetrance alleles, including large (>60 repeats) and very large (>100 repeats) expansions using a novel triplet-primed PCR-based assay, the AmplideX PCR/CE <i>HTT</i> Kit. The results demonstrate that the method accurately genotypes both normal and expanded <i>HTT</i>-CAG repeat numbers and reveals previously undisclosed and very large CAG expansions >200 repeats. We also show that this technique can improve genetic test reliability and accuracy by detecting CAG expansions in samples with sequence variations within or adjacent to the repeat tract that cause allele drop-outs or inaccuracies using other PCR methods.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) is due to dominant expansions of the CAG repeat of the HTT gene. Meiotic instability of the (CAG)n might impact the disorder frequency. We report on HD minimal prevalence in Rio Grande do Sul (RS) state, Brazil, and on intergenerational instability of the (CAG)n in HD families. Symptomatic and at-risk subjects from 179 HD families were ascertained between 2013 and 2016. Clinical, molecular and family history data were obtained. Expanded (CAG)n length differences between parent and child (delta-expanded-(CAG)n) were calculated. Effect of parental age on the (CAG)n instability upon transmission was inferred by correlating delta-expanded-(CAG)n between siblings to their age differences. HD minimal prevalence in RS state was estimated as 1.85:100,000 inhabitants. Alleles with (CAG)27-35 were found on 21/384 non-disease associated chromosomes (5.5%); among 253 expanded alleles, four (1.6%) were within reduced penetrance range with (CAG)36-39. In 32 direct transmissions, mean instability was larger among paternal than maternal transmissions. In direct transmissions and in 51 sibling pairs, parental age at the time of child birth were not correlated with delta-expanded-(CAG)n. Briefly, HD prevalence in RS state was lower than those reported for European populations. Expanded (CAG)n transmissions were unstable and not associated to parental age.
Project description:Huntington disease (HD) is caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Although the length of this repeat is inversely correlated with age of onset (AOO), it does not fully explain the variability in AOO. We assessed the sequence downstream of the CAG repeat in HTT [reference: (CAG)n-CAA-CAG], since variants within this region have been previously described, but no study of AOO has been performed. These analyses identified a variant that results in complete loss of interrupting (LOI) adenine nucleotides in this region [(CAG)n-CAG-CAG]. Analysis of multiple HD pedigrees showed that this LOI variant is associated with dramatically earlier AOO (average of 25 years) despite the same polyglutamine length as in individuals with the interrupting penultimate CAA codon. This LOI allele is particularly frequent in persons with reduced penetrance alleles who manifest with HD and increases the likelihood of presenting clinically with HD with a CAG of 36-39 repeats. Further, we show that the LOI variant is associated with increased somatic repeat instability, highlighting this as a significant driver of this effect. These findings indicate that the number of uninterrupted CAG repeats, which is lengthened by the LOI, is the most significant contributor to AOO of HD and is more significant than polyglutamine length, which is not altered in these individuals. In addition, we identified another variant in this region, where the CAA-CAG sequence is duplicated, which was associated with later AOO. Identification of these cis-acting modifiers have potentially important implications for genetic counselling in HD-affected families.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) reflects dominant consequences of a CAG repeat expansion mutation in HTT. Expanded CAG repeat size is the primary determinant of age at onset and age at death in HD. Although HD pathogenesis is driven by the expanded CAG repeat, whether the mutation influences the expression levels of mRNA and protein from the disease allele is not clear due to the lack of sensitive allele-specific quantification methods and the presence of confounding factors. To determine the impact of CAG expansion at the molecular level, we have developed novel allele-specific HTT mRNA and protein quantification methods based on principles of multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification and targeted MS/MS parallel reaction monitoring, respectively. These assays, exhibiting high levels of specificity and sensitivity, were designed to distinguish allelic products based upon expressed polymorphic variants in HTT, including rs149 109 767. To control for other cis-haplotype variations, we applied allele-specific quantification assays to a panel of HD lymphoblastoid cell lines, each carrying the major European disease haplotype (i.e. hap.01) on the mutant chromosome. We found that steady state levels of HTT mRNA and protein were not associated with expanded CAG repeat length. Rather, the products of mutant and normal alleles, both mRNA and protein, were balanced, thereby arguing that a cis-regulatory effect of the expanded CAG repeat is not a critical component of the underlying mechanism of HD. These robust allele-specific assays could prove valuable for monitoring the impact of allele-specific gene silencing strategies currently being explored as therapeutic interventions in HD.
Project description:The expanded CAG repeat in the Huntington's disease (HD) gene may display tissue-specific variability (e.g. triplet mosaicism) in repeat length, the longest mutations involving mitotic (germ and glial cells) and postmitotic (neurons) cells. What contributes to the triplet mutability underlying the development of HD nevertheless remains unknown. We investigated whether, besides the increased DNA instability documented in postmitotic neurons, possible environmental and genetic mechanisms, related to cell replication, may concur to determine CAG repeat mutability. To test this hypothesis we used, as a model, cultured HD patients' lymphoblasts with various CAG repeat lengths.Although most lymphoblastoid cell lines (88%) showed little or no repeat instability even after six or more months culture, in lymphoblasts with large expansion repeats beyond 60 CAG repeats the mutation size and triplet mosaicism always increased during replication, implying that the repeat mutability for highly expanded mutations may quantitatively depend on the triplet expansion size. None of the investigated genetic factors, potentially acting in cis to the mutation, significantly influence the repeat changes. Finally, in our experiments certain drugs controlled triplet expansion in two prone-to-expand HD cell lines carrying large CAG mutations.Our data support quantitative evidence that the inherited CAG length of expanded alleles has a major influence on somatic repeat variation. The longest triplet expansions show wide somatic variations and may offer a mechanistic model to study triplet drug-controlled instability and genetic factors influencing it.
Project description:Huntington disease (HD) is a dominantly transmitted neurodegenerative disorder that arises from expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat on chromosome 4p16.3. CAG repeat allele lengths are defined as fully penetrant at >or=40, reduced penetrance at 36-39, high normal at 27-35, and normal at <or=26. Fathers, but not mothers, with high normal alleles are at risk of transmitting potentially penetrant HD alleles (>or=36) to offspring. We estimated the conditional probability of an offspring inheriting an expanded penetrant allele given a father with a high normal allele by applying probability definitions and rules to estimates of HD incidence, paternal birth rate, frequency of de novo HD, and frequency of high normal alleles in the general population. The estimated probability that a male high normal allele carrier will have an offspring with an expanded penetrant allele ranges from 1/6,241 to 1/951. These estimates may be useful in genetic counseling for male high normal allele carriers.