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Genetic variation within genes associated with mitochondrial function is significantly associated with later age at onset of Parkinson disease and contributes to disease risk

By Kimberley J. Billingsley, Ines A Barbosa, Sara Bandrés-Ciga, John P Quinn, Vivien J Bubb, Charu Deshpande, Juan A. Botia, Regina H. Reynolds, David Zhang, Michael A. Simpson, Cornelis Blauwendraat, Ziv Gan-Or, J Raphel Gibbs, Mike A Nalls, Andrew Singleton, International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium (IPDGC), Mina Ryten, Sulev Koks

Posted 04 Dec 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/475111

Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in the aetiology of monogenic Parkinson's disease (PD). Yet the role that mitochondrial processes play in the most common form of the disease; sporadic PD is yet to be fully established. Here we comprehensively assessed the role of mitochondrial function associated genes in sporadic PD by leveraging improvements in the scale and analysis of PD GWAS data with recent advances in our understanding of the genetics of mitochondrial disease. First we identified that a proportion of the missing heritability of the PD can be explained by common variation within genes implicated in mitochondrial disease (primary gene list) and mitochondrial function (secondary gene list). Next we calculated a mitochondrial-specific polygenic risk score (PRS) and showed that cumulative small effect variants within both our primary and secondary gene lists are significantly associated with increased PD risk. Most significantly we further report that the PRS of the secondary mitochondrial gene list was significantly associated with later age at onset. Finally to identify possible functional genomic associations we implemented Mendelian randomisation which showed that 14 of these mitochondrial function associated genes showed functional consequence associated with PD risk. Further analysis suggested that the 14 identified genes are not only involved in mitophagy but implicate new mitochondrial processes. Our data suggests that therapeutics targeting mitochondrial bioenergetics and proteostasis pathways distinct from mitophagy could be beneficial to treating the early stage of PD.

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