Novel variants in genes related to vesicle-mediated-transport modify Parkinson's disease risk

Orly Goldstein, Mali Gana-Weisz, Sandro Banfi, Vincenzo Nigro, Anat Bar-Shira, Avner Thaler, Tanya Gurevich, Anat Mirelman, Nir Giladi, Roy N. Alcalay, Avi Orr-Urtreger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: VPS35 and VPS13 have been associated with Parkinson's disease (PD), and their shared phenotype in yeast when reduced in function is abnormal vacuolar transport. We aim to test if additional potentially deleterious variants in other genes that share this phenotype can modify the risk for PD. Methods: 77 VPS and VPS-related genes were analyzed using whole-genome-sequencing data from 202 PD patients of Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) ancestry. Filtering was done based on quality and functionality scores. Ten variants in nine genes were further genotyped in 1200 consecutively recruited unrelated AJ-PD patients, and allele frequencies and odds ratio calculated compared to gnomAD-AJ-non-neuro database, in un-stratified (n = 1200) and stratified manner (LRRK2-G2019S-PD patients (n = 145), GBA-PD patients (n = 235), and non-carriers of these mutations (NC, n = 787)). Results: Five variants in PIK3C3, VPS11, AP1G2, HGS and VPS13D were significantly associated with PD-risk. PIK3C3-R768W showed a significant association in an un-stratified (all PDs) analysis, as well as in stratified (LRRK2, GBA, and NC) analyses (Odds ratios = 2.71, 5.32, 3.26. and 2.19 with p = 0.0015, 0.002, 0.0287, and 0.0447, respectively). AP1G2-R563W was significantly associated in LRRK2-carriers (OR = 3.69, p = 0.006) while VPS13D-D2932N was significantly associated in GBA-carriers (OR = 5.45, p = 0.0027). VPS11-C846G and HGS-S243Y were significantly associated in NC (OR = 2.48 and 2.06, with p = 0.022 and 0.0163, respectively). Conclusions: Variants in genes involved in vesicle-mediated protein transport and recycling pathways, including autophagy and mitophagy, may differentially modify PD-risk in LRRK2-carriers, GBA carriers, or NC. Specifically, PIK3C3-R768W is a PD-risk allele, with the highest effect size in LRRK2-G2019S carriers. These results suggest oligogenic effect that may depends on the genetic background of the patient. An unbiased burden of mutations approach in these genes should be evaluated in additional PD and control groups. The mechanisms by which these novel variants interact and increase PD-risk should be researched in depth for better tailoring therapeutic intervention for PD prevention or slowing disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107608
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023


FundersFunder number
Biogen, Inc
Chaya Charitable Fund
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research


    • Disease risk
    • Genetics
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Vacuolar protein sorting (VPS)
    • Whole-genome-sequencing


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