A single-cell eQTL atlas of the human cerebellum reveals vulnerability of oligodendrocytes in essential tremor

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A single-cell eQTL atlas of the human cerebellum reveals vulnerability of oligodendrocytes in essential tremor

Authors

Castonguay, C.-E.; Aboasali, F.; Medeiros, M.; Becret, T.; Schmilovich, Z.; Khayachi, A.; Rajput, A.; Dion, P. A.; Rouleau, G.

Abstract

Essential tremor (ET) is a movement disorder characterized by an upper-limb postural and action tremor. It is one of the most common neurological disorders, affecting 1% of the worldwide population. Despite strong evidence for genetic factors driving the aetiology of ET, the underlying pathophysiology remains poorly understood. To understand the effects of genetic risk factors in ET on the cerebellum, the brain region thought to be affected by the disease, we built a population-scale single-cell atlas of the human cerebellar cortex comprised of over 1 million cells from 109 individuals. Using single-cell expression quantitative trait loci and mendelian randomization, we found evidence of ET-associated variants in the BACE2 locus causally linked to its downregulation in cerebellar oligodendrocytes. We highlight a genetically vulnerable population of BACE2-expressing immature oligodendrocytes, suggestive of demyelination. We also find dysfunctional processes affecting interactions between Golgi cells, Purkinje layer interneurons, and oligodendrocytes in ET. Our study suggests a crucial role for cerebellar oligodendrocytes in the pathogenesis of ET.

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