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Alzheimer disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder and the most common form of dementia. The majority of AD cases are sporadic, while up to 5% are families with an early onset AD (EOAD). Mutations in one of the three genes: amyloid beta precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 (PSEN1) or presenilin 2 (PSEN2) can be disease causing. However, most EOAD families do not carry mutations in any of these three genes, and candidate genes, such as the sortilin-related receptor 1 (SORL1), have been suggested to be potentially causative. To identify AD causative variants, we performed whole-exome sequencing on five individuals from a family with EOAD and a missense variant, p.Arg1303Cys (c.3907C > T) was identified in SORL1 which segregated with disease and was further characterized with immunohistochemistry on two post mortem autopsy cases from the same family. In a targeted re-sequencing effort on independent index patients from 35 EOAD-families, a second SORL1 variant, c.3050-2A > G, was found which segregated with the disease in 3 affected and was absent in one unaffected family member. The c.3050-2A > G variant is located two nucleotides upstream of exon 22 and was shown to cause exon 22 skipping, resulting in a deletion of amino acids Gly1017- Glu1074 of SORL1. Furthermore, a third SORL1 variant, c.5195G > C, recently identified in a Swedish case control cohort included in the European Early-Onset Dementia (EU EOD) consortium study, was detected in two affected siblings in a third family with familial EOAD. The finding of three SORL1-variants that segregate with disease in three separate families with EOAD supports the involvement of SORL1 in AD pathology. The cause of these rare monogenic forms of EOAD has proven difficult to find and the use of exome and genome sequencing may be a successful route to target them.
Thonberg, H., Chiang, H. H., Lilius, L., Forsell, C., Lindström, A. K., Johansson, C., … Graff, C. (2017). Identification and description of three families with familial Alzheimer disease that segregate variants in the SORL1 gene. Acta Neuropathologica Communications, 5(1), 43. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40478-017-0441-9
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