Rare Disease Mechanisms Identified by Genealogical Proteomics of Copper Homeostasis Mutant Pedigrees

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Biological Sciences


SILAC, Rare disease, Copper, PARK gene, Parkinson, Menkes, ATP7A, UCHL1, Genealogical proteomics, Precision medicine


Rare neurological diseases shed light onto universal neurobiological processes. However, molecular mechanisms connecting genetic defects to their disease phenotypes are elusive. Here, we obtain mechanistic information by comparing proteomes of cells from individuals with rare disorders with proteomes from their disease-free consanguineous relatives. We use triple-SILAC mass spectrometry to quantify proteomes from human pedigrees affected by mutations in ATP7A, which cause Menkes disease, a rare neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorder stemming from systemic copper depletion. We identified 214 proteins whose expression was altered in ATP7A−/y fibroblasts. Bioinformatic analysis of ATP7A-mutant proteomes identified known phenotypes and processes affected in rare genetic diseases causing copper dyshomeostasis, including altered mitochondrial function. We found connections between copper dyshomeostasis and the UCHL1/PARK5 pathway of Parkinson disease, which we validated with mitochondrial respiration and Drosophila genetics assays. We propose that our genealogical “omics” strategy can be broadly applied to identify mechanisms linking a genomic locus to its phenotypes.

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