Comprehensive analysis of PM20D1 QTL in Alzheimer’s disease

Jose Vicente Sanchez-Mut, Liliane Glauser, David Monk, Johannes Gräff

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Abstract

Background
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a complex disorder caused by a combination of genetic and non-genetic risk factors. In addition, an increasing evidence suggests that epigenetic mechanisms also accompany AD. Genetic and epigenetic factors are not independent, but multiple loci show genetic-epigenetic interactions, the so-called quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Recently, we identified the first QTL association with AD, namely Peptidase M20 Domain Containing 1 (PM20D1). We observed that PM20D1 DNA methylation, RNA expression, and genetic background are correlated and, in turn, associated with AD. We provided mechanistic insights for these correlations and had shown that by genetically increasing and decreasing PM20D1 levels, AD-related pathologies were decreased and accelerated, respectively. However, since the PM20D1 QTL region encompasses also other genes, namely Nuclear Casein Kinase and Cyclin Dependent Kinase Substrate 1 (NUCKS1); RAB7, member RAS oncogene family-like 1 (RAB7L1); and Solute Carrier Family 41 Member 1 (SLC41A1), we investigated whether these genes might also contribute to the described AD association.

Results
Here, we report a comprehensive analysis of these QTL genes using a repertoire of in silico methods as well as in vivo and in vitro experimental approaches. First, we analyzed publicly available databases to pinpoint the major QTL correlations. Then, we validated these correlations using a well-characterized set of samples and locus-specific approaches—i.e., Sanger sequencing for the genotype, cloning/sequencing and pyrosequencing for the DNA methylation, and allele-specific and real-time PCR for the RNA expression. Finally, we defined the functional relevance of the observed alterations in the context of AD in vitro. Using this approach, we show that only PM20D1 DNA methylation and expression are significantly correlated with the AD-risk associated background. We find that the expression of SLC41A1 and PM20D1—but not NUCKS1 and RAB7L1—is increased in mouse models and human samples of AD, respectively. However, SLC41A1 and PM20D1 are differentially regulated by AD-related stressors, with only PM20D1 being upregulated by amyloid-β and reactive oxygen species, and with only PM20D1 being neuroprotective when overexpressed in cell and primary cultures.

Conclusions
Our findings reinforce PM20D1 as the most likely gene responsible of the previously reported PM20D1 QTL association with AD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Alzheimer
  • DNA methylation
  • NUCKS1
  • PM20D1
  • QTL
  • RAB7L1
  • RNA expression
  • SLC41A1
  • eQTL
  • mQTL
  • METHYLATION
  • TRANSCRIPTOME
  • ANK1
  • MICE
  • BRAIN

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