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Hum Mol Genet. 2011 Sep 15;20(18):3684-92. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr268. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

A functional variant in ZNF512B is associated with susceptibility to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Japanese.

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Laboratory for Bone and Joint Diseases, Center for Genomic Medicine, RIKEN, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the selective loss of motor neurons. Several susceptibility genes for ALS have been reported; however, ALS etiology and pathogenesis remain largely unknown. To identify further ALS-susceptibility genes, we conducted a large-scale case-control association study using gene-based tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). A functional SNP (rs2275294) was found to be significantly associated with ALS through a stepwise screening approach (combined P= 9.3 × 10(-10), odds ratio = 1.32). The SNP was located in an enhancer region of ZNF512B, a transcription factor of unknown biological function, and the susceptibility allele showed decreased activity and decreased binding to nuclear proteins. ZNF512B over-expression increased transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling, while knockdown had the opposite effect. ZNF512B expression was increased in the anterior horn motor neurons of the spinal cord of ALS patients when compared with controls.  Our results strongly suggest that ZNF512B is an important positive regulator of TGF-β signaling and that decreased ZNF512B expression increases susceptibility to ALS.

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