Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is the form of neurodegenerative dementia with the highest prevalence after Alzheimer’s disease, equally distributed in men and women. It includes several variants, generally characterized by behavioural instability and language impairments. Although few mendelian genes (MAPT, GRN, and C9orf72) have been associated to the FTD phenotype, in most cases there is only evidence of multiple risk loci with relatively small effect size. To date, there are no comprehensive studies describing FTD at molecular level, highlighting possible genetic interactions and signalling pathways at the origin FTD-associated neurodegeneration. In this study, we designed a broad FTD genetic interaction map of the Italian population, through a novel network-based approach modelled on the concepts of disease-relevance and interaction perturbation, combining Steiner tree search and Structural Equation Model (SEM) analysis. Our results show a strong connection between Calcium/cAMP metabolism, oxidative stress-induced Serine/Threonine kinases activation, and postsynaptic membrane potentiation, suggesting a possible combination of neuronal damage and loss of neuroprotection, leading to cell death. In our model, Calcium/cAMP homeostasis and energetic metabolism impairments are primary causes of loss of neuroprotection and neural cell damage, respectively. Secondly, the altered postsynaptic membrane potentiation, due to the activation of stress-induced Serine/Threonine kinases, leads to neurodegeneration. Our study investigates the molecular underpinnings of these processes, evidencing key genes and gene interactions that may account for a significant fraction of unexplained FTD aetiology. We emphasized the key molecular actors in these processes, proposing them as novel FTD biomarkers that could be crucial for further epidemiological and molecular studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)