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Genome-wide contribution of common short-tandem repeats to Parkinson's disease genetic risk

By Bernabe I Bustos, Kimberley Billingsley, Cornelis Blauwendraat, J Raphel Gibbs, Ziv Gan-Or, Dimitri Krainc, Andrew B. Singleton, Steven J. Lubbe, International Parkinson's Disease Genomics Consortium (IPDGC)

Posted 05 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.01.21259645

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disorder with a strong genetic component, where most known disease-associated variants are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and small insertions and deletions (Indels). DNA repetitive elements account for >50% of the human genome, however little is known of their contribution to PD etiology. While select short tandem repeats (STRs) within candidate genes have been studied in PD, their genome-wide contribution remains unknown. Here we present the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of STRs in PD. Through a meta-analysis of 16 imputed GWAS cohorts from the International Parkinson's Disease Genomic Consortium (IPDGC), totalling 39,087 individuals (16,642 PD cases and 22,445 controls of European ancestry) we identified 34 genome-wide significant STR loci (p < 5.34x10-6), with the strongest signal located in KANSL1 (chr17:44205351:[T]11, p=3x10-39, OR=1.31 [CI 95%=1.26-1.36]). Conditional-joint analyses suggested that 4 significant STRs mapping nearby NDUFAF2, TRIML2, MIRNA-129-1 and NCOR1 were independent from known PD risk SNPs. Including STRs in heritability estimates increased the variance explained by SNPs alone. Gene expression analysis of STRs (eSTR) in RNASeq data from 13 brain regions, identified significant associations of STRs influencing the expression of multiple genes, including PD known genes. Further functional annotation of candidate STRs revealed that significant eSTRs within NUDFAF2 and ZSWIM7 overlap with regulatory features and are associated with change in the expression levels of nearby genes. Here we show that STRs at known and novel candidate PD loci contribute to PD risk, and have functional effects in disease-relevant tissues and pathways, supporting previously reported disease-associated genes and giving further evidence for their functional prioritization. These data represent a valuable resource for researchers currently dissecting PD risk loci.

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