Genetic analysis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis identifies contributing pathways and cell types.
Rebekah G. Langston,
Jonggeol J Kim,
Shing Wan Choi,
Regina H. Reynolds,
the International ALS Genomics Consortium; ITALSGEN,
John E. Landers,
Mark R Cookson,
Michael A. Nalls,
Bryan J. Traynor
Posted 21 Jul 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.20.211276
Posted 21 Jul 2020
Despite the considerable progress in unraveling the genetic causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we do not fully understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease. We analyzed genome-wide data involving 78,500 individuals using a polygenic risk score approach to identify the biological pathways and cell types involved in ALS. This data-driven approach identified multiple aspects of the biology underlying the disease that resolved into broader themes, namely neuron projection morphogenesis, membrane trafficking, and signal transduction mediated by ribonucleotides. We also found that genomic risk in ALS maps consistently to GABAergic cortical interneurons and oligodendrocytes, as confirmed in human single-nucleus RNA-seq data. Using two-sample Mendelian randomization, we nominated five differentially expressed genes (ATG16L2, ACSL5, MAP1LC3A, PLXNB2, and SCFD1) within the significant pathways as relevant to ALS. We conclude that the disparate genetic etiologies of this fatal neurological disease converge on a smaller number of final common pathways and cell types. ### Competing Interest Statement BJT holds patents on the clinical testing and therapeutic intervention for the hexanucleotide repeat expansion of C9orf72. MANs participation is supported by a consulting contract between Data Tecnica International and the National Institute on Aging, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA. MAN consults for Neuron 23s Inc, Lysosomal Therapeutics Inc, and Illumina Inc., among others. All other authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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