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Next Generation Sequencing and ALS: known genes, different phenotyphes

R. Campopiano, L. Riskalin, E. Giardina, S. Zampatti, C.L. Busceti, F. Biagioni, R. Ferese, M. Storto, S. Gambardella, F. Fornai


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease clinically characterized by upper and lower motor neuron dysfunction resulting in rapidly progressive paralysis and death from respiratory failure. Most cases appear to be sporadic, but 5-10 % of cases have a family history of the disease, and over the last decade, identification of mutations in about 20 genes predisposing to these disorders has provided the means to better understand their pathogenesis. Next Generation sequencing (NGS) is an advanced high-throughput DNA sequencing technology which have rapidly contributed to an acceleration in the discovery of genetic risk factors for both familial and sporadic neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. These strategies allowed to rapidly identify disease-associated variants and genetic risk factors for both familial (fALS) and sporadic ALS (sALS), strongly contributing to the knowledge of the genetic architecture of ALS. Moreover, as the number of ALS genes grows, many of the proteins they encode are in intracellular processes shared with other known diseases, suggesting an overlapping of clinical and phatological features between different diseases. To emphasize this concept, the review focuses on genes coding for Valosin-containing protein (VCP) and two Heterogeneous nuclear RNA-binding proteins (hnRNPA1 and hnRNPA2B1), recently idefied through NGS, where different mutations have been associated in both ALS and other neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.

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