SKOR1 has a transcriptional regulatory role on genes involved in pathways related to restless legs syndrome


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common sleep-related sensory-motor disorder. It is characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs during the evening or at night. The symptoms can be partially relieved by movement, so typically affected individual needs to walk during rest time; this interferes with sleep. GWAS have identified 19 RLS-associated loci. Among the first to be reported and most significant and robustly replicated reports are variants in the SKOR1 noncoding regions. SKOR1 is highly expressed in the CNS of humans and mice. Skor1 acts as a corepressor of Lbx1 transcription factor in mice and these two genes act together to regulate the cell fate of interneurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Based on this data we investigated the regulatory role of SKOR1 using a global RNA-sequencing approach in human cell lines where SKOR1 was either overexpressed or silenced. For this work we generated and validated a new poly-clonal anti-SKOR1. Pathway and gene set enrichment analyses of the differentially expressed genes showed, among others, enrichment of genes involved in neurodevelopment and iron metabolism, two RLS relevant pathways that were previously found to be enriched in the latest RLS GWAS meta-analysis. Analysis of our different datasets further supports and highlights the regulatory role of SKOR1, which when dysregulated might represent a key pathogenic element of RLS. A better understanding of SKOR1 and its activity could open new avenues of investigation for the development of a much-needed therapy.

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Fig. 1: Anti-SKOR1 generation and characterization.
Fig. 2: RNA-Seq data analysis of human cell lines with SKOR1 gene overexpressed or silenced.
Fig. 3: Venn diagram of DEGs common between HAP1 and HEK293 cells.
Fig. 4: Interactions between the pathways significantly enriched in the DEGs possibly repressed or activated by SKOR1.


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GAR holds the Canada’s Research Chair in Neurogenetics and the Wilder Penfield Chair in Neuroscience. This study was funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research (RN254517-332736). FA was funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec–Santé.

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Correspondence to Guy A. Rouleau.

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Sarayloo, F., Spiegelman, D., Rochefort, D. et al. SKOR1 has a transcriptional regulatory role on genes involved in pathways related to restless legs syndrome. Eur J Hum Genet 28, 1520–1528 (2020).

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