Strikingly different clinicopathological phenotypes determined by progranulin-mutation dosage.
ABSTRACT: We performed hypothesis-free linkage analysis and exome sequencing in a family with two siblings who had neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL). Two linkage peaks with maximum LOD scores of 3.07 and 2.97 were found on chromosomes 7 and 17, respectively. Unexpectedly, we found these siblings to be homozygous for a c.813_816del (p.Thr272Serfs∗10) mutation in the progranulin gene (GRN, granulin precursor) in the latter peak. Heterozygous mutations in GRN are a major cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP), the second most common early-onset dementia. Reexamination of progranulin-deficient mice revealed rectilinear profiles typical of NCL. The age-at-onset and neuropathology of FTLD-TDP and NCL are markedly different. Our findings reveal an unanticipated link between a rare and a common neurological disorder and illustrate pleiotropic effects of a mutation in the heterozygous or homozygous states.
Project description:Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in GRN, the progranulin gene, which result in progranulin (PGRN) protein haploinsufficiency, are a major cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP). PGRN is composed of seven and a half repeats of a highly conserved granulin motif that is cleaved to produce the granulin peptides A-G and paragranulin. To better understand the role of PGRN and granulin (Grn) peptides in the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration, we evaluated PGRN/Grn in brains of patients with Alzheimer disease, FTLD-TDP type A with or without GRN mutations, and normal individuals, using a panel of monoclonal antibodies against Grn peptides A-G. In the neocortex, Grn peptide-specific immunostains were observed, for example, membranous Grn E immunopositivity in pyramidal neurons, and Grn C immunopositivity in ramified microglia. In the hippocampus, Grn immunopositivity in the CA1 and CA2 regions showed disease-specific changes in both neurons and microglia. Most interestingly, in FTLD-TDP type A with GRN mutations, there is a 60% decrease in the density of Grn-positive microglia in the hippocampal CA1, suggesting that haploinsufficiency of the GRN mutations also extends to PGRN expression in microglia. This study provides important insights into future studies of the pathogenesis and treatment of FTLD-TDP.
Project description:Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is characterized by progressive decline in behavior, executive function, and language. Progranulin (GRN) gene mutations are pathogenic for FTLD-TDP, and GRN transcript haploinsufficiency is the proposed disease mechanism. However, the evidence for this hypothesis comes mainly from blood-derived cells; we measured progranulin expression in brain. We characterized mRNA and protein levels of progranulin from four brain regions (frontal cortex, temporal cortex, occipital cortex, and cerebellum) in FTLD-TDP patients with and without GRN mutations, as well as neurologically normal individuals. Moreover, we performed immunohistochemistry to evaluate the degree of TDP-43 pathology and microglial infiltration present in these groups. In most brain regions, patients with GRN mutations showed mRNA levels comparable to normal controls and to FTLD-TDP without GRN mutations. However, GRN transcript levels in a brain region severely affected by disease (frontal cortex) were increased in mutation-bearing patients. When compared with normal individuals, GRN mutation-bearing cases had a significant reduction in the amount of progranulin protein in the cerebellum and occipital cortex, but not in the frontal and temporal cortices. In GRN mutant cases, GRN mRNA originated from the normal allele, and moderate microglial infiltration was observed. In conclusion, GRN mutation carriers have increased levels of mRNA transcript from the normal allele in brain, and proliferation of microglia likely increases progranulin levels in affected regions of the FTLD-TDP brain, and whether or not these findings underlie the accumulation of TDP-43 pathology in FTLD-TDP linked to GRN mutations remains to be determined.
Project description:Heterozygous mutations in the GRN gene lead to progranulin (PGRN) haploinsufficiency and cause frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a neurodegenerative syndrome of older adults. Homozygous GRN mutations, on the other hand, lead to complete PGRN loss and cause neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), a lysosomal storage disease usually seen in children. Given that the predominant clinical and pathological features of FTD and NCL are distinct, it is controversial whether the disease mechanisms associated with complete and partial PGRN loss are similar or distinct. We show that PGRN haploinsufficiency leads to NCL-like features in humans, some occurring before dementia onset. Noninvasive retinal imaging revealed preclinical retinal lipofuscinosis in heterozygous GRN mutation carriers. Increased lipofuscinosis and intracellular NCL-like storage material also occurred in postmortem cortex of heterozygous GRN mutation carriers. Lymphoblasts from heterozygous GRN mutation carriers accumulated prominent NCL-like storage material, which could be rescued by normalizing PGRN expression. Fibroblasts from heterozygous GRN mutation carriers showed impaired lysosomal protease activity. Our findings indicate that progranulin haploinsufficiency caused accumulation of NCL-like storage material and early retinal abnormalities in humans and implicate lysosomal dysfunction as a central disease process in GRN-associated FTD and GRN-associated NCL.
Project description:Loss-of-function mutations in progranulin (GRN) cause ubiquitin- and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43)-positive frontotemporal dementia (FTLD-U), a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting approximately 10% of early-onset dementia patients. Here we expand the role of GRN in FTLD-U and demonstrate that a common genetic variant (rs5848), located in the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of GRN in a binding-site for miR-659, is a major susceptibility factor for FTLD-U. In a series of pathologically confirmed FTLD-U patients without GRN mutations, we show that carriers homozygous for the T-allele of rs5848 have a 3.2-fold increased risk to develop FTLD-U compared with homozygous C-allele carriers (95% CI: 1.50-6.73). We further demonstrate that miR-659 can regulate GRN expression in vitro, with miR-659 binding more efficiently to the high risk T-allele of rs5848 resulting in augmented translational inhibition of GRN. A significant reduction in GRN protein was observed in homozygous T-allele carriers in vivo, through biochemical and immunohistochemical methods, mimicking the effect of heterozygous loss-of-function GRN mutations. In support of these findings, the neuropathology of homozygous rs5848 T-allele carriers frequently resembled the pathological FTLD-U subtype of GRN mutation carriers. We suggest that the expression of GRN is regulated by miRNAs and that common genetic variability in a miRNA binding-site can significantly increase the risk for FTLD-U. Translational regulation by miRNAs may represent a common mechanism underlying complex neurodegenerative disorders.
Project description:Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder that predominantly affects individuals under the age of 65. It is known that the most common pathological subtype is FTLD with TAR DNA-binding protein 43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP). FTLD has a strong genetic component with about 50% of cases having a positive family history. Mutations identified in the progranulin gene (GRN) have been shown to cause FTLD-TDP as a result of progranulin haploinsufficiency. These findings suggest a progranulin-dependent mechanism in this pathological FTLD subtype. Thus, identifying regulators of progranulin levels is essential for new therapies and treatments for FTLD and related disorders. In this review, we discuss the role of genetic studies in identifying progranulin regulators, beginning with the discovery of pathogenic GRN mutations and additional GRN risk variants. We also cover more recent genetic advances, including the detection of variants in the transmembrane protein 106 B gene that increase FTLD-TDP risk presumably by modulating progranulin levels and the identification of a potential progranulin receptor, sortilin. This review highlights the importance of genetic studies in the context of FTLD and further emphasizes the need for future genetic and cell biology research to continue the effort in finding a cure for progranulin-related diseases.
Project description:Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is the most common cause of dementia in people under 60 yr of age and is pathologically associated with mislocalization of TAR DNA/RNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) in approximately half of cases (FLTD-TDP). Mutations in the gene encoding progranulin (GRN), which lead to reduced progranulin levels, are a significant cause of familial FTLD-TDP. Grn-KO mice were developed as an FTLD model, but lack cortical TDP-43 mislocalization and neurodegeneration. Here, we report retinal thinning as an early disease phenotype in humans with GRN mutations that precedes dementia onset and an age-dependent retinal neurodegenerative phenotype in Grn-KO mice. Retinal neuron loss in Grn-KO mice is preceded by nuclear depletion of TDP-43 and accompanied by reduced expression of the small GTPase Ran, which is a master regulator of nuclear import required for nuclear localization of TDP-43. In addition, TDP-43 regulates Ran expression, likely via binding to its 3'-UTR. Augmented expression of Ran in progranulin-deficient neurons restores nuclear TDP-43 levels and improves their survival. Our findings establish retinal neurodegeneration as a new phenotype in progranulin-deficient FTLD, and suggest a pathological loop involving reciprocal loss of Ran and nuclear TDP-43 as an underlying mechanism.
Project description:Cytoplasmic aggregates and nuclear depletion of the ubiquitous RNA-binding protein TDP-43 have been described in the autoptic brain tissues of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTLD) patients and both TDP-43 loss-of-function and gain-of-function mechanisms seem to contribute to the neurodegenerative process. Among the wide array of RNA targets, TDP-43 regulates progranulin (GRN) mRNA stability and sortilin (SORT1) splicing. Progranulin is a secreted neurotrophic and neuro-immunomodulatory factor whose endocytosis and delivery to the lysosomes are regulated by the neuronal receptor sortilin. Moreover, GRN loss-of-function mutations are causative of a subset of FTLD cases showing TDP-43 pathological aggregates. Here we show that TDP-43 loss-of-function differently affects the progranulin-sortilin axis in murine and human neuronal cell models. We demonstrated that although TDP-43 binding to GRN mRNA occurs similarly in human and murine cells, upon TDP-43 depletion, a different control of sortilin splicing and protein content may determine changes in extracellular progranulin uptake that account for increased or unchanged secreted protein in murine and human cells, respectively. As targeting the progranulin-sortilin axis has been proposed as a therapeutic approach for GRN-FTLD patients, the inter-species differences in TDP-43-mediated regulation of this pathway must be considered when translating studies from animal models to patients.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To assess the relative frequency of unique mutations and their associated characteristics in 97 individuals with mutations in progranulin (GRN), an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). PARTICIPANTS AND DESIGN:A 46-site International Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Collaboration was formed to collect cases of FTLD with TAR DNA-binding protein of 43-kDa (TDP-43)-positive inclusions (FTLD-TDP). We identified 97 individuals with FTLD-TDP with pathogenic GRN mutations (GRN+ FTLD-TDP), assessed their genetic and clinical characteristics, and compared them with 453 patients with FTLD-TDP in which GRN mutations were excluded (GRN- FTLD-TDP). No patients were known to be related. Neuropathologic characteristics were confirmed as FTLD-TDP in 79 of the 97 GRN+ FTLD-TDP cases and all of the GRN- FTLD-TDP cases. RESULTS:Age at onset of FTLD was younger in patients with GRN+ FTLD-TDP vs GRN- FTLD-TDP (median, 58.0 vs 61.0 years; P < .001), as was age at death (median, 65.5 vs 69.0 years; P < .001). Concomitant motor neuron disease was much less common in GRN+ FTLD-TDP vs GRN- FTLD-TDP (5.4% vs 26.3%; P < .001). Fifty different GRN mutations were observed, including 2 novel mutations: c.139delG (p.D47TfsX7) and c.378C>A (p.C126X). The 2 most common GRN mutations were c.1477C>T (p.R493X, found in 18 patients, representing 18.6% of GRN cases) and c.26C>A (p.A9D, found in 6 patients, representing 6.2% of cases). Patients with the c.1477C>T mutation shared a haplotype on chromosome 17; clinically, they resembled patients with other GRN mutations. Patients with the c.26C>A mutation appeared to have a younger age at onset of FTLD and at death and more parkinsonian features than those with other GRN mutations. CONCLUSION:GRN+ FTLD-TDP differs in key features from GRN- FTLD-TDP.
Project description:Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second most common cause of dementia in individuals under 65 years old and manifests as alterations in behavior, personality, or language secondary to degeneration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes. FTLD-TDP, the largest neuropathological subset of FTLD, is characterized by hyperphosphorylated, ubiquitinated TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) inclusions. Mutations in progranulin (GRN), a neuroprotective growth factor, are one of the most common Mendelian genetic causes of FTLD-TDP. Moreover, a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified multiple SNPs within the uncharacterized gene TMEM106B that significantly associated with FTLD-TDP, suggesting that TMEM106B genotype confers risk for FTLD-TDP. Indeed, TMEM106B expression levels, which correlate with TMEM106B genotype, may play a role in the pathogenesis of disease.Since little is known about TMEM106B and its expression in human brain, we performed immunohistochemical studies of TMEM106B in postmortem human brain samples from normal individuals, FTLD-TDP individuals with and without GRN mutations, and individuals with other neurodegenerative diseases. We find that TMEM106B protein is cytoplasmically expressed in both histopathologically affected and unaffected areas of the brain by neurons, glia, and endothelial cells/pericytes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that TMEM106B expression may differ among neuronal subtypes. Finally, we show that TMEM106B neuronal expression is significantly more disorganized in FTLD-TDP cases with GRN mutations, compared to normal and disease controls, including FTLD-TDP cases without GRN mutations.Our data provide an initial neuropathological characterization of the newly discovered FTLD-TDP-associated protein TMEM106B. In addition, we demonstrate that FTLD-TDP cases with GRN mutations exhibit a loss of neuronal TMEM106B subcellular localization, adding to evidence that TMEM106B and progranulin may be pathophysiologically linked in FTLD-TDP.
Project description:Hippocampal sclerosis (HpScl) is common in elderly subjects with dementia, either alone or accompanied by other pathologic processes. It is also found in >70% of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions (FTLD-TDP). TDP-43 inclusions are detected in >20% of Alzheimer disease (AD) and >70% of HpScl cases. The most common cause of FTLD-TDP is mutation in the progranulin gene (GRN). Recently, a common genetic variant in the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of GRN (rs5848; c.*78C>T) located in a microRNA binding site regulated progranulin expression, and the T-allele was increased in FTLD-TDP compared to controls.The goal of this study was to determine if the 3'UTR variant in GRN was associated with TDP-43 immunoreactivity in AD with and without HpScl.644 cases of pathologically confirmed AD, including 57 with HpScl, were screened for TDP-43 immunoreactivity and were genotyped at the GRN 3'UTR single-nucleotide polymorphism rs5848 using previously published methods.There was a trend (p = 0.06) for TDP-43 immunoreactivity, but a very significant (p = 0.005) association of HpScl with the variant, with 72% of AD with HpScl carrying a T-allele, compared to 51% of AD without HpScl carrying a T-allele.The results suggest that a genetic variant in GRN leading to decreased levels of progranulin may be a risk factor for HpScl in AD, while its role in TDP-43 immunoreactivity in AD remains less certain.