Parkinson disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Recent studies have consistently demonstrated that in some families, disease is attributable to a mutation in a single gene. To date, genetic analyses have detected linkage to six chromosomal regions and have identified three causative genes: PARK1 (alpha-synuclein), PARK2 (parkin), and PARK7 (DJ-1). In addition, mutations in several other genes have been implicated in familial PD. Identification of the mutations in these genes has led to the recognition that the ubiquitin-proteasome system is an important pathway that may be disrupted in PD. Studies are ongoing to identify additional genes that may contribute to PD susceptibility, particularly in late-onset families without a clear pattern of disease inheritance. With the identification of mutations in particular genes and the likely role of additional genes that are important in PD risk-susceptibility, appropriate protocols must be developed so that accurate and informative genetic counseling can be offered to families in which one or more members has PD. Further diagnostic testing should be delayed until more is learned about the frequency, penetrance, and risk assessment of certain gene mutations. Important lessons can be learned from the implementation of counseling protocols for other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Huntington disease and Alzheimer disease.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 NS37167.
- Parkinson disease
- genetic counseling
- ubiquitin-proteasome system