Correcting Differential Gene Expression Analysis for Cyto—Architectural Alterations in Substantia Nigra of Parkinson’s Disease Patients Reveals Known and Potential Novel Disease—Associated Genes and Pathways

Federico Ferraro, Christina Fevga, Vincenzo Bonifati, Wim Mandemakers, Ahmed Mahfouz, Marcel Reinders*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Several studies have analyzed gene expression profiles in the substantia nigra to better understand the pathological mechanisms causing Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, the concordance between the identified gene signatures in these individual studies was generally low. This might have been caused by a change in cell type composition as loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta is a hallmark of PD. Through an extensive meta-analysis of nine previously published microarray studies, we demonstrated that a big proportion of the detected differentially expressed genes was indeed caused by cyto-architectural alterations due to the heter-ogeneity in the neurodegenerative stage and/or technical artefacts. After correcting for cell compo-sition, we identified a common signature that deregulated the previously unreported ammonium transport, as well as known biological processes such as bioenergetic pathways, response to prote-otoxic stress, and immune response. By integrating with protein interaction data, we shortlisted a set of key genes, such as LRRK2, PINK1, PRKN, and FBXO7, known to be related to PD, others with compelling evidence for their role in neurodegeneration, such as GSK3β, WWOX, and VPC, and novel potential players in the PD pathogenesis. Together, these data show the importance of ac-counting for cyto-architecture in these analyses and highlight the contribution of multiple cell types and novel processes to PD pathology, providing potential new targets for drug development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number198
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

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