Neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs) are challenging to understand, diagnose, and treat. Revealing the genomic and transcriptomic changes in NDDs contributes greatly to the understanding of the diseases, their causes, and development. Moreover, it enables more precise genetic diagnosis and novel drug target identification that could potentially treat the diseases or at least ease the symptoms. In this study, the authors analyzed the transcriptional changes of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial (NEM) genes in eight NDDs to specifically address the association of these genes with the diseases. Previous studies show strong links between defects in NEM genes and neurodegeneration, yet connecting specific genes with NDDs is not well studied. Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is an NDD that cannot be treated effectively; therefore, the authors focused first on FRDA and compared the outcome with seven other NDDs, including Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, frontotemporal dementia, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease. First, weighted correlation network analysis was performed on an FRDA RNA-Seq data set, focusing only on NEM genes. Then differential gene expression analysis and pathway enrichment analysis was carried out to pinpoint differentially expressed genes that are potentially associated with one or more of the analyzed NDDs. These findings propose a strong link between NEM genes and NDDs and suggest that the identified candidate genes can be potentially used as diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets.

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