Primary dystonia: molecules and mechanisms

Department of Pharmacology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
Nature Reviews Neurology (Impact Factor: 14.1). 10/2009; 5(11):598-609. DOI: 10.1038/nrneurol.2009.160
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Primary dystonia is characterized by abnormal, involuntary twisting and turning movements that reflect impaired motor system function. The dystonic brain seems normal, in that it contains no overt lesions or evidence of neurodegeneration, but functional brain imaging has uncovered abnormalities involving the cortex, striatum and cerebellum, and diffusion tensor imaging suggests the presence of microstructural defects in white matter tracts of the cerebellothalamocortical circuit. Clinical electrophysiological studies show that the dystonic CNS exhibits aberrant plasticity--perhaps related to deficient inhibitory neurotransmission--in a range of brain structures, as well as the spinal cord. Dystonia is, therefore, best conceptualized as a motor circuit disorder, rather than an abnormality of a particular brain structure. None of the aforementioned abnormalities can be strictly causal, as they are not limited to regions of the CNS subserving clinically affected body parts, and are found in seemingly healthy patients with dystonia-related mutations. The study of dystonia-related genes will, hopefully, help researchers to unravel the chain of events from molecular to cellular to system abnormalities. DYT1 mutations, for example, cause abnormalities within the endoplasmic reticulum-nuclear envelope endomembrane system. Other dystonia-related gene products traffic through the endoplasmic reticulum, suggesting a potential cell biological theme underlying primary dystonia.

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    ABSTRACT: A single GAG codon deletion in the gene encoding torsinA is linked to most cases of early-onset torsion dystonia. TorsinA is an ER-localized membrane-associated ATPase from the AAA+ superfamily with an unknown biological function. We investigated the formation of oligomeric complexes of torsinA in cultured mammalian cells and found that wild type torsinA associates into a complex with a molecular weight consistent with that of a homohexamer. Interestingly, the dystonia-linked variant torsinAΔE displayed a reduced propensity to form the oligomers compared to the wild type protein. We also discovered that the deletion of the N-terminal membrane-associating region of torsinA abolished oligomer formation. Our results demonstrate that the dystonia-linked mutation in the torsinA gene produces a protein variant that is deficient in maintaining its oligomeric state and suggest that ER membrane association is required to stabilize the torsinA complex.
    SpringerPlus 12/2014; 3:743. DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-3-743
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    ABSTRACT: Dystonia is a brain disorder characterized by abnormal involuntary movements without defining neuropathological changes. The disease is often inherited as an autosomal-dominant trait with incomplete penetrance. Individuals with dystonia, whether inherited or sporadic, exhibit striking phenotypic variability, with marked differences in the somatic distribution and severity of clinical manifestations. In the current study, we used magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging to identify microstructural changes associated with specific limb manifestations. Functional MRI was used to localize specific limb regions within the somatosensory cortex. Microstructural integrity was preserved when assessed in subrolandic white matter regions somatotopically related to the clinically involved limbs, but was reduced in regions linked to clinically uninvolved (asymptomatic) body areas. Clinical manifestations were greatest in subjects with relatively intact microstructure in somatotopically relevant white matter regions. Tractography revealed significant phenotype-related differences in the visualized thalamocortical tracts while corticostriatal and corticospinal pathways did not differ between groups. Cerebellothalamic microstructural abnormalities were also seen in the dystonia subjects, but these changes were associated with genotype, rather than with phenotypic variation. The findings suggest that the thalamocortical motor system is a major determinant of dystonia phenotype. This pathway may represent a novel therapeutic target for individuals with refractory limb dystonia.
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    ABSTRACT: The dystonias are a group of disorders defined by sustained or intermittent muscle contractions that result in involuntary posturing or repetitive movements. There are many different clinical manifestations and causes. Although they traditionally have been ascribed to dysfunction of the basal ganglia, recent evidence has suggested dysfunction may originate from other regions, particularly the cerebellum. This recent evidence has led to an emerging view that dystonia is a network disorder that involves multiple brain regions. The new network model for the pathogenesis of dystonia has raised many questions, particularly regarding the role of the cerebellum. For example, if dystonia may arise from cerebellar dysfunction, then why are there no cerebellar signs in dystonia? Why are focal cerebellar lesions or degenerative cerebellar disorders more commonly associated with ataxia rather than dystonia? Why is dystonia more commonly associated with basal ganglia lesions rather than cerebellar lesions? Can answers obtained from animals be extrapolated to humans? Is there any evidence that the cerebellum is not involved? Finally, what is the practical value of this new model of pathogenesis for the neuroscientist and clinician? This article explores potential answers to these questions.
    Neuroscience 01/2014; 260:23–35. · 3.33 Impact Factor


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