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Memory impairment is the cardinal early feature of Alzheimer's disease, a highly prevalent disorder whose causes remain only partially understood. To identify novel genetic predictors, we used an integrative genomics approach to perform the largest study to date of human memory (n=14 781). Using a genome-wide screen, we discovered a novel association of a polymorphism in the pro-apoptotic gene FASTKD2 (fas-activated serine/threonine kinase domains 2; rs7594645-G) with better memory performance and replicated this finding in independent samples. Consistent with a neuroprotective effect, rs7594645-G carriers exhibited increased hippocampal volume and gray matter density and decreased cerebrospinal fluid levels of apoptotic mediators. The MTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) gene and pathways related to endocytosis, cholinergic neurotransmission, epidermal growth factor receptor signaling and immune regulation, among others, also displayed association with memory. These findings nominate FASTKD2 as a target for modulating neurodegeneration and suggest potential mechanisms for therapies to combat memory loss in normal cognitive aging and dementia.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/mp.2014.142

Type

Journal article

Journal

Mol Psychiatry

Publication Date

10/2015

Volume

20

Pages

1197 - 1204

Keywords

Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Alzheimer Disease, Female, Genetic Association Studies, Genome-Wide Association Study, Hippocampus, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Memory, Memory Disorders, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, Structure-Activity Relationship