Loss-of-function variants in NEK1 are associated with an increased risk of sporadic ALS in the Japanese population


Loss-of-function (LoF) variants in NEK1 have recently been reported to be associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In this study, we investigated the association of NEK1 LoF variants with an increased risk of sporadic ALS (SALS) and the clinical characteristics of patients with SALS carrying LoF variants in a Japanese case series. Whole-exome sequencing analysis was performed for a series of 446 SALS patients in whom pathogenic variants in familial ALS-causative genes have not been identified and 1163 healthy control subjects in our Japanese series. We evaluated LoF variants, defined as nonsense, splice-site disrupting single-nucleotide variants (SNVs), or short insertion/deletion (indel) variants predicted to cause frameshifts in NEK1. We identified seven NEK1 LoF variants in patients with SALS (1.57%), whereas only one was identified in control subjects (0.086%) (P = 0.00073, Fisher’s exact test). This finding is consistent with those in recent reports from other regions in the world. In conclusion, we demonstrated that NEK1 LoF variants are also associated with an increased risk of SALS in the Japanese population.

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We thank all the patients for participating in this study. We also thank all the neurologists who provided samples for this study. This work was supported by Grants-in Aid from the Research Committee of CNS Degenerative Diseases, Research on Policy Planning and Evaluation for Rare and Intractable Diseases, Health, Labour and Welfare Sciences Research Grants, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan (20FC1049) and Grant Number JP20ek0109491 from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) to ST.

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Correspondence to Shoji Tsuji.

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Naruse, H., Ishiura, H., Mitsui, J. et al. Loss-of-function variants in NEK1 are associated with an increased risk of sporadic ALS in the Japanese population. J Hum Genet (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-020-00830-9

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