A hexanucleotide-repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is the most common genetic variant that contributes to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia1,2. The C9ORF72 mutation acts through gain- and loss-of-function mechanisms to induce pathways that are implicated in neural degeneration3,4,5,6,7,8,9. The expansion is transcribed into a long repetitive RNA, which negatively sequesters RNA-binding proteins5 before its non-canonical translation into neural-toxic dipeptide proteins3,4. The failure of RNA polymerase to read through the mutation also reduces the abundance of the endogenous C9ORF72 gene product, which functions in endolysosomal pathways and suppresses systemic and neural inflammation6,7,8,9. Notably, the effects of the repeat expansion act with incomplete penetrance in families with a high prevalence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or frontotemporal dementia, indicating that either genetic or environmental factors modify the risk of disease for each individual.
Read more at: Nature