, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 111-120

A novel gene derived from a segmental duplication shows perturbed expression in Alzheimer’s disease

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Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a disabling neurodegenerative disorder with onset commonly in late life. Three genes have been identified causing earlier onset AD, and a fourth has been shown to be a risk factor for late onset AD (LOAD), while many more yet unrecognized genes are thought to contribute to susceptibility. Many studies have reported linkage to LOAD on human chromosome 10, where we have identified a parent of origin effect [Bassett SS, Avramopoulos D, Perry RT, Wiener H, Watson B Jr, Go RC, Fallin MD. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 141:537–540, (2006), Bassett SS, Avramopoulos D, Fallin D. Am J Med Genet 114:679–686, (2002)]. In this paper, we report on a gene in this region that shows reduced expression with increasing age, reduced expression in females across ages, and further reduction in LOAD patients. In concordance with the observed parent of origin effect on the linkage, this reduction is more pronounced in patients with an affected mother. We discovered this gene while studying the alkaline ceramidase gene (ASAH2); it is a partial paralog of ASAH2, and we call it ASAH2L. It is the result of a partial duplication of ASAH2 on chromosome 10q11.23, just downstream from the sequence with promoter activity. ASAH2L has a polymorphic start codon with a single nucleotide change of the original ASAH2 sequence plus other putative translation start sites that might produce novel proteins. It is expressed in all the tissues we tested including the brain and is an interesting example of the generation of a new gene. Comparison of primate and other mammal genomes suggests that ASAH2L is human specific. Further research would be necessary to determine the function of the ASAH2L transcript and explore any possible involvement in neurodegeneration.