Abstract

Background

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the α‐synuclein (SNCA) gene are associated with differential risk and age at onset (AAO) of both idiopathic and Leucine‐rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2)‐associated Parkinson’s disease (PD). Yet potential combinatory or synergistic effects among several modulatory SNPs for PD risk or AAO remain largely underexplored.

Objectives

The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway is functionally impaired in PD. Here we explored whether SNPs in the mTOR pathway, alone or by epistatic interaction with known susceptibility factors, can modulate PD risk and AAO.

Methods

Based on functional relevance, we selected a total of 64 SNPs mapping to a total of 57 genes from the mTOR pathway and genotyped a discovery series cohort encompassing 898 PD patients and 921 controls. As a replication series, we screened 4170 PD and 3014 controls available from the International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium.

Results

In the discovery series cohort, we found a 4‐loci interaction involving STK11 rs8111699, FCHSD1 rs456998, GSK3B rs1732170, and SNCA rs356219, which was associated with an increased risk of PD (odds ratio = 2.59, P < .001). In addition, we also found a 3‐loci epistatic combination of RPTOR rs11868112 and RPS6KA2 rs6456121 with SNCA rs356219, which was associated (odds ratio = 2.89; P < .0001) with differential AAO. The latter was further validated (odds ratio = 1.56; P = 0.046‐0.047) in the International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium cohort.

Conclusions

These findings indicate that genetic variability in the mTOR pathway contributes to SNCA effects in a nonlinear epistatic manner to modulate differential AAO in PD, unraveling the contribution of this cascade in the pathogenesis of the disease. © 2019 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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