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Ankyrin-1 (ANK-1) (Ankyrin-R) (Erythrocyte ankyrin) [ANK]


Alzheimer's Disease Associated Genes Ankyrin and Tau Cause Shortened Lifespan and Memory Loss in [i]Drosophila[/i].

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and is characterized by intracellular neurofibrillary tangles of hyperphosphorylated Tau, including the 0N4R isoform and accumulation of extracellular amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques. However, less than 5% of AD cases are familial, with many additional risk factors contributing to AD including aging, lifestyle, the environment and epigenetics. Recent epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) of AD have identified a number of loci that are differentially methylated in the AD cortex. Indeed, hypermethylation and reduced expression of the [i]Ankyrin 1[/i] ([i]ANK1[/i]) gene in AD has been reported in the cortex in numerous different post-mortem brain cohorts. Little is known about the normal function of ANK1 in the healthy brain, nor the role it may play in AD. We have generated [i]Drosophila[/i] models to allow us to functionally characterize [i]Drosophila Ank2[/i], the ortholog of human [i]ANK1[/i] and to determine its interaction with human Tau and Aβ. We show expression of human Tau 0N4R or the oligomerizing Aβ 42 amino acid peptide caused shortened lifespan, degeneration, disrupted movement, memory loss, and decreased excitability of memory neurons with co-expression tending to make the pathology worse. We find that [i]Drosophila[/i] with reduced neuronal [i]Ank2[/i] expression have shortened lifespan, reduced locomotion, reduced memory and reduced neuronal excitability similar to flies overexpressing either human Tau 0N4R or Aβ42. Therefore, we show that the mis-expression of [i]Ank2[/i] can drive disease relevant processes and phenocopy some features of AD. Therefore, we propose targeting human ANK1 may have therapeutic potential. This represents the first study to characterize an AD-relevant gene nominated from EWAS.


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Ankyrin
  • Drosophila
  • Tau
  • lifespan
  • locomotion
  • memory
  • neurodegeneration

DNA methylation analysis on purified neurons and glia dissects age and Alzheimer's disease-specific changes in the human cortex.

Epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) based on human brain samples allow a deep and direct understanding of epigenetic dysregulation in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, strong variation of cell-type proportions across brain tissue samples represents a significant source of data noise. Here, we report the first EWAS based on sorted neuronal and non-neuronal (mostly glia) nuclei from postmortem human brain tissues. We show that cell sorting strongly enhances the robust detection of disease-related DNA methylation changes even in a relatively small cohort. We identify numerous genes with cell-type-specific methylation signatures and document differential methylation dynamics associated with aging specifically in neurons such as CLU, SYNJ2 and NCOR2 or in glia RAI1,CXXC5 and INPP5A. Further, we found neuron or glia-specific associations with AD Braak stage progression at genes such as MCF2L, ANK1, MAP2, LRRC8B, STK32C and S100B. A comparison of our study with previous tissue-based EWAS validates multiple AD-associated DNA methylation signals and additionally specifies their origin to neuron, e.g., HOXA3 or glia (ANK1). In a meta-analysis, we reveal two novel previously unrecognized methylation changes at the key AD risk genes APP and ADAM17. Our data highlight the complex interplay between disease, age and cell-type-specific methylation changes in AD risk genes thus offering new perspectives for the validation and interpretation of large EWAS results.

MeSH Terms

  • ADAM17 Protein
  • Aging
  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Autopsy
  • Cell Separation
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Epigenomics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Neuroglia
  • Neurons
  • Organ Specificity
  • Transcriptome


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Brain
  • Cell sorting
  • DNA methylation
  • EWAS
  • Epigenetics
  • Glia
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuron