Recently, rare mutations in the TARDBP gene have been identified in familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. The purpose of this study was to characterize the genetic variability of the TARDBP gene in a cohort of Sardinian ALS patients. The coding region of the gene was analyzed in 97 unrelated patients previously tested negative for superoxide dismutase (SOD1) mutations. The p.Ala382Thr (c.1144G>A) mutation was found in 30 patients (30.9%). The mutation was predominant in familial ALS patients (FALS) as it was represented in 24 of 30 FALS cases (80%) (p < 0.0003). Six cases were apparently sporadic (9% of sporadic ALS patients). No further mutation of TARDBP was found in our cohort of ALS patients. Patients carrying the mutation showed spinal site of onset in 24 cases (80%), an average age at onset of 54.7 ± 11.1 years, not significantly different from patients not harboring TARDBP mutations (56.7 ± 9.6) and a female:male gender ratio of 1:1.1. The haplotype analysis carried out using eight microsatellite markers flanking the gene showed a founder effect for this mutation. Finally, we estimated the age-specific penetrance of the TARDBP p.Ala382Thr mutation in an additional sample of 47 carriers (20 affected and 27 unaffected). The average penetrance to 70 years was 60% (95% confidence interval 41-79%). A trend toward a higher penetrance in males was observed. Even in the presence of a causal mutation, most of the ALS clinical heterogeneity, however, draws upon from a multifactorial context.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.