Study investigates genetic variants' role in increasing Parkinson's disease risk

October 6, 2012, Boston University Medical Center

Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) investigators have led the first genome-wide evaluation of genetic variants associated with Parkinson's disease (PD). The study, which is published online in PLOS ONE, points to the involvement of specific genes and alterations in their expression as influencing the risk for developing PD.

Jeanne Latourelle, DSc, assistant professor of neurology at BUSM, served as the study's lead author and Richard H. Myers, PhD, professor of neurology at BUSM, served as the study's principal investigator and senior author.

A recent paper by the PD Genome Wide Association Study Consortium (PDGC) confirmed that an increased risk for PD was seen in individuals with genetic variants in or near the genes SNCA, MAPT, GAK/DGKQ, HLA and RIT2, but the mechanism behind the increased risk was not determined.

"One possible effect of the variants would be to change the manner in which a gene is expressed in the brains, leading to increased risk of PD," said Latourelle.

To investigate the theory, the researchers examined the relationship between PD-associated genetic variants and levels of gene expression in brain samples from the of 26 samples with known PD and 24 neurologically healthy control samples. was determined using a microarray that screened effects of genetic variants on the expression of genes located very close to the variant, called cis-effects, and genes that are far from the variant, such as those on a completely different chromosome, called trans-effects.

An analysis of the cis-effects showed that several genetic variants in the MAPT region showed a significant association to the expression of multiple nearby genes, including gene LOC644246, the duplicated genes LRRC37A and LRRC37A2 and the gene DCAKD. Significant cis-effects were also observed between variants in the HLA region on and two nearby genes HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQA1. An examination of trans-effects revealed 23 DNA sequence variations that reached statistical significance involving variants from the SNCA, MAPT and RIT2 genes.

"The identification of the specific altered genes in PD opens opportunities to further study them in model organisms or cell lines with the goal of identifying drugs which may rectify the defects as treatment for PD," said Myers.

Explore further: Study finds genetic variation that protects against Parkinson's disease

More information: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.%20pone.0046199

Related Stories

Study finds genetic variation that protects against Parkinson's disease

August 31, 2011
An international team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Mayo Clinic in Florida has found a genetic variation they say protects against Parkinson's disease. The gene variants cut the risk of developing the disease by ...

Study examines association between Parkinson disease, cancer

September 3, 2012
A study that used a Utah genealogic database and a statewide cancer registry to examine the relationship between Parkinson disease (PD) and cancer suggests an increased risk of prostate cancer and melanoma in patients with ...

Genetic factors can predict the progression of Parkinson's disease

December 16, 2011
Parkinson's disease is marked by the abnormal accumulation of α-synuclein and the early loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra region of the brain. A polymorphism in the promotor of α-synuclein gene known ...

Recommended for you

Parkinson's disease 'jerking' side effect detected by algorithm

January 8, 2018
A mathematical algorithm that can reliably detect dyskinesia, the side effect from Parkinson's treatment that causes involuntary jerking movements and muscle spasms, could hold the key to improving treatment and for patients ...

New brainstem changes identified in Parkinson's disease

January 4, 2018
A pioneering study has found that patients with Parkinson's disease have more errors in the mitochondrial DNA within the brainstem, leading to increased cell death in that area.

Caffeine level in blood may help diagnose people with Parkinson's disease

January 3, 2018
Testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the January 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Researchers shed light on why exercise slows progression of Parkinson's disease

December 22, 2017
While vigorous exercise on a treadmill has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients, the molecular reasons behind it have remained a mystery.

Robotic device improves balance and gait in Parkinson's disease patients

December 19, 2017
Some 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD) every year. The American Institute of Neurology estimates there are one million people affected with this neurodegenerative disorder, with 60 years ...

New findings point to potential therapy for Parkinson's Disease

December 19, 2017
A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), sheds light on a mechanism underlying Parkinson's disease and suggests that Tacrolimus—an existing drug that targets the toxic protein interaction ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.