[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spinocerebellar ataxia 36 (SCA36) is an autosomal-dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by a large (>650) hexanucleotide GGCCTG repeat expansion in the first intron of the NOP56 gene. The aim of this study is to clarify the prevalence, clinical and genetic features of SCA36.
The expansion was tested in 676 unrelated SCA index cases and 727 controls from France, Germany and Japan. Clinical and neuropathological features were investigated in available family members.
Normal alleles ranged between 5 and 14 hexanucleotide repeats. Expansions were detected in 12 families in France (prevalence: 1.9% of all French SCAs) including one family each with Spanish, Portuguese or Chinese ancestry, in five families in Japan (1.5% of all Japanese SCAs), but were absent in German patients. All the 17 SCA36 families shared one common haplotype for a 7.5 kb pairs region flanking the expansion. While 27 individuals had typically long expansions, three affected individuals harboured small hexanucleotide expansions of 25, 30 and 31 hexanucleotide repeat-units, demonstrating that such a small expansion could cause the disease. All patients showed slowly progressive cerebellar ataxia frequently accompanied by hearing and cognitive impairments, tremor, ptosis and reduced vibration sense, with the age at onset ranging between 39 and 65 years, and clinical features were indistinguishable between individuals with short and typically long expansions. Neuropathology in a presymptomatic case disclosed that Purkinje cells and hypoglossal neurons are affected.
SCA36 is rare with a worldwide distribution. It can be caused by a short GGCCTG expansion and associates various extracerebellar symptoms.
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[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diabetes mellitus and neurodegeneration are common diseases for which shared genetic factors are still only partly known. Here, we show that loss of the BiP (immunoglobulin heavy-chain binding protein) co-chaperone DNAJC3 leads to diabetes mellitus and wide-spread neurodegeneration. We investigated three siblings with juvenile-onset diabetes and central and peripheral neurodegeneration, including ataxia, upper-motor-neuron damage, peripheral neuropathy, hearing loss, and cerebral atrophy. Exome sequencing identified a homozygous stop mutation in DNAJC3. Screening of a diabetes database with 226,194 individuals yielded eight phenotypically similar individuals and one family carrying a homozygous DNAJC3 deletion. DNAJC3 was absent in fibroblasts from all affected subjects in both families. To delineate the phenotypic and mutational spectrum and the genetic variability of DNAJC3, we analyzed 8,603 exomes, including 506 from families affected by diabetes, ataxia, upper-motor-neuron damage, peripheral neuropathy, or hearing loss. This anal-ysis revealed only one further loss-of-function allele in DNAJC3 and no further associations in subjects with only a subset of the features of the main phenotype. Our findings demonstrate that loss-of-function DNAJC3 mutations lead to a monogenic, recessive form of diabetes mellitus in humans. Moreover, they present a common denominator for diabetes and widespread neurodegeneration. This complements findings from mice in which knockout of Dnajc3 leads to diabetes and modifies disease in a neurodegenerative model of Marinesco-Sjögren syndrome. Nonautoimmune diabetes mellitus and neurodegenera-tion are common disorders for which shared genetic factors are still only partly known. Monogenic forms of diabetes include neonatal diabetes (MIM 606176) and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MIM 606391), both of which arise from mutations that primarily reduce pancreatic b cell function. 1 Although monogenic
The American Journal of Human Genetics 11/2014; · 10.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To retrospectively determine the frequency of N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptor (NMDAR) autoantibodies in patients with different forms of dementia.
Clinical characterization of 660 patients with dementia, neurodegenerative disease without dementia, other neurological disorders and age-matched healthy controls combined with retrospective analysis of serum or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for the presence of NMDAR antibodies. Antibody binding to receptor mutants and the effect of immunotherapy were determined in a subgroup of patients.
Serum NMDAR antibodies of IgM, IgA, or IgG subtypes were detected in 16.1% of 286 dementia patients (9.5% IgM, 4.9% IgA, and 1.7% IgG) and in 2.8% of 217 cognitively healthy controls (1.9% IgM and 0.9% IgA). Antibodies were rarely found in CSF. The highest prevalence of serum antibodies was detected in patients with "unclassified dementia" followed by progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal syndrome, Parkinson's disease-related dementia, and primary progressive aphasia. Among the unclassified dementia group, 60% of 20 patients had NMDAR antibodies, accompanied by higher frequency of CSF abnormalities, and subacute or fluctuating disease progression. Immunotherapy in selected prospective cases resulted in clinical stabilization, loss of antibodies, and improvement of functional imaging parameters. Epitope mapping showed varied determinants in patients with NMDAR IgA-associated cognitive decline.
Serum IgA/IgM NMDAR antibodies occur in a significant number of patients with dementia. Whether these antibodies result from or contribute to the neurodegenerative disorder remains unknown, but our findings reveal a subgroup of patients with high antibody levels who can potentially benefit from immunotherapy.
Annals of clinical and translational neurology. 10/2014; 1(10):822-832.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cholestenoic acids are formed as intermediates in metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, and the biosynthetic enzymes that generate cholestenoic acids are expressed in the mammalian CNS. Here, we evaluated the cholestenoic acid profile of mammalian cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and determined that specific cholestenoic acids activate the liver X receptors (LXRs), enhance islet-1 expression in zebrafish, and increase the number of oculomotor neurons in the developing mouse in vitro and in vivo. While 3β,7α-dihydroxycholest-5-en-26-oic acid (3β,7α-diHCA) promoted motor neuron survival in an LXR-dependent manner, 3β-hydroxy-7-oxocholest-5-en-26-oic acid (3βH,7O-CA) promoted maturation of precursors into islet-1+ cells. Unlike 3β,7α-diHCA and 3βH,7O-CA, 3β-hydroxycholest-5-en-26-oic acid (3β-HCA) caused motor neuron cell loss in mice. Mutations in CYP7B1 or CYP27A1, which encode enzymes involved in cholestenoic acid metabolism, result in different neurological diseases, hereditary spastic paresis type 5 (SPG5) and cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX), respectively. SPG5 is characterized by spastic paresis, and similar symptoms may occur in CTX. Analysis of CSF and plasma from patients with SPG5 revealed an excess of the toxic LXR ligand, 3β-HCA, while patients with CTX and SPG5 exhibited low levels of the survival-promoting LXR ligand 3β,7α-diHCA. Moreover, 3β,7α-diHCA prevented the loss of motor neurons induced by 3β-HCA in the developing mouse midbrain in vivo.Our results indicate that specific cholestenoic acids selectively work on motor neurons, via LXR, to regulate the balance between survival and death.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patterns of dysarthria in spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) and their discriminative features still remain elusive. Here we aimed to compare dysarthria profiles of patients with (SCA3 and SCA6 vs. Friedreich ataxia (FRDA), focussing on three particularly vulnerable speech parameters (speaking rate, prosodic modulation, and intelligibility) in ataxic dysarthria as well as on a specific oral non-speech variable of ataxic impairment, i.e., the irregularity of oral motor diadochokinesis (DDK). 30 Patients with SCA3, SCA6, and FRDA, matched for group size (n = 10 each), disease severity, and disease duration produced various speech samples and DDK tasks. A discriminant analysis was used to differentiate speech and non-speech parameters between groups. Regularity of DDK was specifically impaired in SCA3, whereas impairments of speech parameters, i.e., rate and modulation were stronger affected in SCA6. Speech parameters are particularly vulnerable in SCA6, while non-speech oral motor features are notably impaired in SCA3.
Journal of Neurology 09/2014; · 3.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with axonal spheroids (HDLS) is a rare autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations within the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) gene. While a small number of reports on imaging findings in routine MRI exist, reported imaging findings in DWI and spectroscopy are scarce, and limited to not genetically proven case reports. We assessed MRI including DWI and MR spectroscopy in six patients with HDLS and two asymptomatic mutation carriers. A total of 13 MRIs were evaluated and a score of the white-matter lesion (WML) load was calculated. The course of MR abnormalities was followed for 6-19 months in four patients and 95 months in one carrier. MRI revealed widespread white-matter lesions of patchy or confluent pattern especially in the frontal and occipital lobe. The pyramidal tract was less affected than the surrounding tissue in all symptomatic patients on conventional T2WI. Three of four cases with DWI showed small dots of diffusion restriction within WML. Spectroscopy showed increased levels of mIns, Cho and lactate while NAA was decreased. Asymptomatic mutation carriers had, for the age of the patients, unusually pronounced unspecific WMLs. No diffusion restriction or alterations in metabolite levels could be detected in asymptomatic mutation carriers. Microbleeds were not found in any patient. Diffusion restriction seems to be a typical imaging pattern visible in patients with active disease progression in HDLS. Spectroscopic findings and the absence of microbleeds differ clearly from reported findings in CADASIL and subcortical arteriosclerotic encephalopathy. While the distribution and character of WMLs in asymptomatic cases remain unspecific they are likely to represent subclinical markers of HDLS.
Journal of Neurology 09/2014; · 3.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genetic diagnosis in inherited optic neuropathies often remains challenging, and the emergence of complex neurological phenotypes that involve optic neuropathy is puzzling. Here we unravel two novel principles of genetic mechanisms in optic neuropathies: deep intronic OPA1 mutations, which explain the disease in several so far unsolved cases; and an intralocus OPA1 modifier, which explains the emergence of syndromic 'optic atrophy plus' phenotypes in several families. First, we unravelled a deep intronic mutation 364 base pairs 3' of exon 4b in OPA1 by in-depth investigation of a family with severe optic atrophy plus syndrome in which conventional OPA1 diagnostics including gene dosage analyses were normal. The mutation creates a new splice acceptor site resulting in aberrant OPA1 transcripts with retained intronic sequence and subsequent translational frameshift as shown by complementary DNA analysis. In patient fibroblasts we demonstrate nonsense mediated messenger RNA decay, reduced levels of OPA1 protein, and impairment of mitochondrial dynamics. Subsequent site-specific screening of >360 subjects with unexplained inherited optic neuropathy revealed three additional families carrying this deep intronic mutation and a base exchange four nucleotides upstream, respectively, thus confirming the clinical significance of this mutational mechanism. Second, in all severely affected patients of the index family, the deep intronic mutation occurred in compound heterozygous state with an exonic OPA1 missense variant (p.I382M; NM_015560.2). The variant alone did not cause a phenotype, even in homozygous state indicating that this long debated OPA1 variant is not pathogenic per se, but acts as a phenotypic modifier if it encounters in trans with an OPA1 mutation. Subsequent screening of whole exomes from >600 index patients identified a second family with severe optic atrophy plus syndrome due to compound heterozygous p.I382M, thus confirming this mechanism. In summary, we provide genetic and functional evidence that deep intronic mutations in OPA1 can cause optic atrophy and explain disease in a substantial share of families with unsolved inherited optic neuropathies. Moreover, we show that an OPA1 modifier variant explains the emergence of optic atrophy plus phenotypes if combined in trans with another OPA1 mutation. Both mutational mechanisms identified in this study-deep intronic mutations and intragenic modifiers-might represent more generalizable mechanisms that could be found also in a wide range of other neurodegenerative and optic neuropathy diseases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the gene coding for Sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1) have been genetically associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Paget disease of bone. In the present study, we analyzed the SQSTM1 coding sequence for mutations in an extended cohort of 1,808 patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), ascertained within the European Early-Onset Dementia consortium. As control dataset, we sequenced 1,625 European control individuals and analyzed whole-exome sequence data of 2,274 German individuals (total n = 3,899). Association of rare SQSTM1 mutations was calculated in a meta-analysis of 4,332 FTLD and 10,240 control alleles. We identified 25 coding variants in FTLD patients of which 10 have not been described. Fifteen mutations were absent in the control individuals (carrier frequency <0.00026) whilst the others were rare in both patients and control individuals. When pooling all variants with a minor allele frequency <0.01, an overall frequency of 3.2 % was calculated in patients. Rare variant association analysis between patients and controls showed no difference over the whole protein, but suggested that rare mutations clustering in the UBA domain of SQSTM1 may influence disease susceptibility by doubling the risk for FTLD (RR = 2.18 [95 % CI 1.24-3.85]; corrected p value = 0.042). Detailed histopathology demonstrated that mutations in SQSTM1 associate with widespread neuronal and glial phospho-TDP-43 pathology. With this study, we provide further evidence for a putative role of rare mutations in SQSTM1 in the genetic etiology of FTLD and showed that, comparable to other FTLD/ALS genes, SQSTM1 mutations are associated with TDP-43 pathology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To identify a novel disease gene in 2 families with autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP).
We used whole-exome sequencing to identify the underlying genetic disease cause in 2 families with apparently autosomal recessive spastic paraplegia. Endogenous expression as well as subcellular localization of wild-type and mutant protein were studied to support the pathogenicity of the identified mutations.
In 2 families, we identified compound heterozygous or homozygous mutations in the kinesin gene KIF1C to cause hereditary spastic paraplegia type 58 (SPG58). SPG58 can be complicated by cervical dystonia and cerebellar ataxia. The same mutations in a heterozygous state result in a mild or subclinical phenotype. KIF1C mutations in SPG58 affect the domains involved in adenosine triphosphate hydrolysis and microtubule binding, key functions for this microtubule-based motor protein.
KIF1C is the third kinesin gene involved in the pathogenesis of HSPs and is characterized by a mild dominant and a more severe recessive disease phenotype. The identification of KIF1C as an HSP disease gene further supports the key role of intracellular trafficking processes in the pathogenesis of hereditary axonopathies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSP) constitute a rare and highly heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative disorders, defined clinically by progressive lower limb spasticity and pyramidal weakness. Autosomal recessive HSP as well as sporadic cases present a significant diagnostic challenge. Mutations in AP5Z1, a gene playing a role in intracellular membrane trafficking, have been recently reported to be associated with spastic paraplegia type 48 (SPG48). Our objective was to determine the relative frequency and clinical relevance of AP5Z1 mutations in a large cohort of 127 HSP patients. We applied a targeted next-generation sequencing approach to analyze all coding exons of the AP5Z1 gene. With the output of high-quality reads and a mean coverage of 51-fold, we demonstrated a robust detection of variants. One 43-year-old female with sporadic complicated paraplegia showed two heterozygous nonsynonymous variants of unknown significance (VUS3; p.[R292W];[(T756I)]). Thus, AP5Z1 gene mutations are rare, at least in Europeans. Due to its low frequency, systematic genetic testing for AP5Z1 mutations is not recommended until larger studies are performed to add further evidence. Our findings demonstrate that amplicon-based deep sequencing is technically feasible and allows a compact molecular characterization of multiple HSP patients with high accuracy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the gene STUB1, encoding the protein CHIP (C-terminus of HSC70-interacting protein), have recently been suggested as a cause of recessive ataxia based on the findings in few Chinese families. Here we aimed to investigate the phenotypic and genotypic spectrum of STUB1 mutations, and to assess their frequency in different Caucasian disease cohorts.
300 subjects with degenerative ataxia (n = 167) or spastic paraplegia (n = 133) were screened for STUB1 variants by whole-exome-sequencing (n = 204) or shotgun-fragment-library-sequencing (n = 96). To control for the specificity of STUB1 variants, we screened an additional 1707 exomes from 891 index families with other neurological diseases.
We identified 3 ataxia patients (3/167 = 1.8%) with 4 novel missense mutations in STUB1, including 3 mutations in its tetratricopeptide-repeat domain. All patients showed evidence of pyramidal tract damage. Cognitive impairment was present only in one and hypogonadism in none of them. Ataxia did not start before age 48 years in one subject. No recessive STUB1 variants were identified in families with other neurological diseases, demonstrating that STUB1 variants are not simply rare polymorphisms ubiquitous in neurodegenerative disease.
STUB1-disease occurs also in Caucasian ataxia populations (1.8%). Our results expand the genotypic spectrum of STUB1-disease, showing that pathogenic mutations affect also the tetratricopeptide-repeat domain, thus providing clinical evidence for the functional importance of this domain. Moreover, they further delineate the phenotypic core features of STUB1-ataxia. Pyramidal tract damage is a common accompanying feature and can include lower limb spasticity, thus adding STUB1-ataxia to the differential diagnosis of "spastic ataxias". However, STUB1 is rare in subjects with predominant spastic paraplegia (0/133). In contrast to previous reports, STUB1-ataxia can start even above age 40 years, and neither hypogonadism nor prominent cognitive impairment are obligatory features.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background and purposeIn chronic progressive spasticity of the legs many rare causes have to be considered, including leukodystrophies due to neurometabolic disorders. To determine the frequency of leukodystrophies and the phenotypic spectrum patients with cryptic spasticity of the legs were screened for underlying neurometabolic abnormalities.Methods
Seventy-six index patients presenting with adult-onset lower limb spasticity of unknown cause consistent with autosomal recessive inheritance were included in this study. Screening included serum levels of very long chain fatty acids for X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy/adrenomyeloneuropathy and lysosomal enzyme activities in leukocytes for metachromatic leukodystrophy, GM1-gangliosidosis, Tay−Sachs, Sandhoff and Krabbe disease. If clinical evidence was indicative of other types of leukodystrophies, additional genetic testing was conducted. Clinical characterization included neurological and psychiatric features and magnetic resonance imaging.ResultsBasic screening detected one index patient with metachromatic leukodystrophy, two patients with Krabbe disease and four patients with adrenoleukodystrophy/adrenomyeloneuropathy. Additional genetic testing revealed one patient with vanishing white matter disease. These patients accounted for an overall share of 11% of leukodystrophies. One patient with Krabbe disease and three patients with adrenoleukodystrophy/adrenomyeloneuropathy presented with pure spasticity of the lower limbs, whilst one patient each with Krabbe disease, metachromatic leukodystrophy and adrenoleukodystrophy/adrenomyeloneuropathy showed additional complicating symptoms.Conclusions
Adult patients presenting with cryptic spasticity of the legs should be screened for underlying X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy/adrenomyeloneuropathy and lysosomal disorders, irrespective of the presence of additional complicating symptoms. Leukodystrophies may manifest as late as the sixth decade and hyperintensity of cerebral white matter on magnetic resonance FLAIR images is not obligatory.
European Journal of Neurology 04/2014; · 3.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sanfilippo syndrome type A (mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA - MPS IIIA) is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder caused by a deficiency in sulfamidase.
Two daughters (13 and 11 years old) of a consanguineous Palestinian family from the Israeli Arab community were investigated clinically and genetically for the presence of progressive neurodegenerative disease, psychomotor retardation and behavioral abnormalities. Development was normal up to one year of age. Thereafter, progressive motor and speech delay started. Metabolic screening including glycosaminoglycans, karyotype testing and magnetic resonance imaging were normal. Later in the disease, they developed severe spasticity and intellectual disability with autistic features and incontinence. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed diffuse hypomyelination with thinning of the corpus callosum. Genetic examination through whole exome sequencing revealed a homozygous mutation c.416C >T (p.T139M) in the N-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase (SGSH) gene. Repeated biochemical testing at age 11 and 13 revealed increased levels of glycosaminoglycans confirming the diagnosis of Sanfilippo syndrome type A.
These cases were considered to be the first report of Sanfilippo syndrome in Israel. We recommend that if similar clinical features are present during childhood, it is preferred to go directly and primarily for a genetic diagnosis of Sanfilippo syndrome, then secondarily for other lysosomal storage disorders that may also be involved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 5 (CMTX5), Arts syndrome, and non-syndromic sensorineural deafness (DFN2) are allelic syndromes, caused by reduced activity of phosphoribosylpyrophosphate synthetase 1 (PRS-I) due to loss-of-function mutations in PRPS1. As only few families have been described, knowledge about the relation between these syndromes, the phenotypic spectrum in patients and female carriers, and the relation to underlying PRS-I activity is limited.
We investigated a family with a novel PRPS1 mutation (c.830A > C, p.Gln277Pro) by extensive phenotyping, MRI, and genetic and enzymatic tests.
The male index subject presented with an overlap of CMTX5 and Arts syndrome features, whereas his sister presented with prelingual DFN2. Both showed mild parietal and cerebellar atrophy on MRI. Enzymatically, PRS-I activity was undetectable in the index subject, reduced in his less affected sister, and normal in his unaffected mother.
Our findings demonstrate that CMTX5, Arts syndrome and DFN2 are phenotypic clusters on an intrafamilial continuum, including overlapping phenotypes even within individuals. The respective phenotypic presentation seems to be determined by the exact PRPS1 mutation and the residual enzyme activity, the latter being largely influenced by the degree of skewed X-inactivation. Finally, our findings show that brain atrophy might be more common in PRPS1-disorders than previously thought.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6), episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2) and familial hemiplegic migraine type 1 (FHM1) are allelic disorders of the gene CACNA1A encoding the P/Q subunit of a voltage gated calcium channel. While SCA6 is related to repeat expansions affecting the C-terminal part of the protein, EA2 and FHM phenotypes are usually associated with nonsense and missense mutations leading to impaired channel properties. In three unrelated families with dominant cerebellar ataxia, symptoms cosegregated with CACNA1A missense mutations of evolutionary highly conserved amino acids (exchanges p.E668K, p.R583Q and p.D302N). To evaluate pathogenic effects, in silico, protein modeling analyses were performed which indicate structural alterations of the novel mutation p.E668K within the homologous domain 2 affecting CACNA1A protein function.The phenotype is characterised by a very slowly progressive ataxia, while ataxic episodes or migraine are uncommon. These findings enlarge the phenotypic spectrum of CACNA1A mutations.
European journal of medical genetics 01/2014; · 1.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
We describe the clinical characteristics of a Swedish family with autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia, sensory and autonomic neuropathy, additional neurological features and unknown genetic cause.
Fourteen affected family members were identified. Their disorder was characterized by neurological examination, MRI, electroneurography, electromyography, MIBG-scintigraphy, and tilt-testing.
The disorder presented as a balance and gait disturbance starting between 16 and 47 years of age. Cerebellar ataxia progressed slowly over the course of decades, and MRI showed mild to moderate cerebellar atrophy. Sensory axonal polyneuropathy was the most prominent additional feature and occurred in all patients examined. Autonomic neuropathy caused pronounced orthostatic dysregulation in at least four patients. Several affected members showed muscle wasting, and mild upper or lower motor neuron signs were documented. Patients had no nystagmus but slow or hypometric horizontal saccades and ocular motor apraxia. Cognition remained unimpaired, and there were no non-neurological disease manifestations. The disorder affected men and women in successive generations in a pattern compatible with autosomal dominant inheritance without evidence of anticipation. A second family where 7 members had very similar symptoms was identified and its origin traced back to the same village in southern Sweden as that of the first family’s ancestors. All relevant known genetic causes of cerebellar ataxia were excluded by a novel next-generation sequencing approach.
We present two probably related Swedish families with a characteristic and novel clinical syndrome of cerebellar ataxia and sensory polyneuropathy. The study serves as a basis for the mapping of the underlying genetic cause.
Parkinsonism & Related Disorders 01/2014; · 4.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
In Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) the genetically decreased expression of the mitochondrial protein frataxin leads to disturbance of the mitochondrial iron metabolism. Within the cerebellum the dentate nuclei (DN) are primarily affected. Histopathological studies show atrophy and accumulation of mitochondrial iron in DN. Dentate iron content has been suggested as a biomarker to measure the effects of siderophores/antioxidant treatment of FA. We assessed the iron content and the volume of DN in FA patients and controls based on ultra-high-field MRI (7 Tesla) images.
Fourteen FA patients (mean age 38.1 yrs) and 14 age- and gender-matched controls participated. Multi-echo gradient echo and susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) sequences were acquired on a 7 T whole-body scanner. For comparison SWI images were acquired on a 1.5 T MR scanner. Volumes of the DN and cerebellum were assessed at 7 and 1.5 T, respectively. Parametric maps of T2 and T2* sequences were created and proton transverse relaxation rates were estimated as a measure of iron content.
In FA, the DN and the cerebellum were significantly smaller compared to controls. However, proton transverse relaxation rates of the DN were not significantly different between both groups.
Applying in vivo MRI methods we could demonstrate significant atrophy of the DN in the presence of normal iron content. The findings suggest that relaxation rates are not reliable biomarkers in clinical trials evaluating the potential effect of FA therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously localized a new form of recessive ataxia with generalized tonic-clonic epilepsy and mental retardation to a 19 Mb interval in 16q21-q23 by homozygosity mapping of a large consanguineous Saudi Arabian family. We now report the identification by whole exome sequencing of the missense mutation changing proline 47 into threonine in the first WW domain of the WW domain containing oxidoreductase gene, WWOX, located in the linkage interval. Proline 47 is a highly conserved residue that is part of the WW motif consensus sequence and is part of the hydrophobic core that stabilizes the WW fold. We demonstrate that proline 47 is a key amino acid essential for maintaining the WWOX protein fully functional, with its mutation into a threonine resulting in a loss of peptide interaction for the first WW domain. We also identified another highly conserved homozygous WWOX mutation changing glycine 372 to arginine in a second consanguineous family. The phenotype closely resembled the index family, presenting with generalized tonic-clonic epilepsy, mental retardation and ataxia, but also included prominent upper motor neuron disease. Moreover, we observed that the short-lived Wwox knock-out mouse display spontaneous and audiogenic seizures, a phenotype previously observed in the spontaneous Wwox mutant rat presenting with ataxia and epilepsy, indicating that homozygous WWOX mutations in different species causes cerebellar ataxia associated with epilepsy.