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Clinical and neuropathological features of ALS/FTD with TIA1 mutations


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) represent a disease continuum with common genetic causes and molecular pathology. We recently identified mutations in the T-cell restricted intracellular antigen-1 (TIA1) protein as a cause of ALS +/− FTD. TIA1 is an RNA-binding protein containing a low complexity domain (LCD) that promotes the assembly of membrane-less organelles, such as stress granules (SG). Whole exome sequencing of two family members with fALS/FTD revealed a novel missense mutation in the TIA1 LCD (P362L). Subsequent screening identified five more TIA1 mutations in six additional ALS patients, but none in controls. All mutation carriers presented with weakness, behavioral abnormalities or language impairments and had a final diagnosis of ALS +/− FTD. Autopsy on five TIA1 mutation carriers showed widespread neurodegeneration with TDP-43 pathology. Round eosinophilic inclusions in lower motor neurons were a consistent feature. Cellular assays revealed abnormal SG dynamics in the presence of TIA1 mutations. In summary, missense mutations in the LCD of TIA1 are a newly recognized cause of ALS/FTD with TDP-43 pathology and strengthen the role of RNA metabolism in the pathogenesis in this disease.