Association of variants in the KIF1A gene with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Transl Neurodegener. 2022 Oct 26;11(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s40035-022-00320-2.


Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons in the central nervous system and the spinal cord. As in many other neurodegenerative disorders, the genetic risk factors and pathogenesis of ALS involve dysregulation of cytoskeleton and neuronal transport. Notably, sensory and motor neuron diseases such as hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type 2 (HSAN2) and spastic paraplegia 30 (SPG30) share several causative genes with ALS, as well as having common clinical phenotypes. KIF1A encodes a kinesin 3 motor that transports presynaptic vesicle precursors (SVPs) and dense core vesicles and has been reported as a causative gene for HSAN2 and SPG30.

Methods: Here, we analyzed whole-exome sequencing data from 941 patients with ALS to investigate the genetic association of KIF1A with ALS.

Results: We identified rare damage variants (RDVs) in the KIF1A gene associated with ALS and delineated the clinical characteristics of ALS patients with KIF1A RDVs. Clinically, these patients tended to exhibit sensory disturbance. Interestingly, the majority of these variants are located at the C-terminal cargo-binding region of the KIF1A protein. Functional examination revealed that the ALS-associated KIF1A variants located in the C-terminal region preferentially enhanced the binding of SVPs containing RAB3A, VAMP2, and synaptophysin. Expression of several disease-related KIF1A mutants in cultured mouse cortical neurons led to enhanced colocalization of RAB3A or VAMP2 with the KIF1A motor.

Conclusions: Our study highlighted the importance of KIF1A motor-mediated transport in the pathogenesis of ALS, indicating KIF1A as an important player in the oligogenic scenario of ALS.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Axonal transport; KIF1A; Presynaptic vesicle precursors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathies*
  • Humans
  • Kinesins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Spastic Paraplegia, Hereditary* / genetics
  • Synaptophysin
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2


  • Kif1a protein, mouse
  • Kinesins
  • Synaptophysin
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2