Mutations in the gene encoding β-III spectrin give rise to spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5), a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive thinning of the molecular layer, loss of Purkinje cells and increasing motor deficits. A mouse lacking full-length β-III spectrin (β-III−/−) displays a similar phenotype. In vitro and in vivo analyses of Purkinje cells lacking β-III spectrin, reveal a critical role for β-III spectrin in Purkinje cell morphological development. Disruption of the normally well-ordered dendritic arborization occurs in Purkinje cells from β-III−/− mice, specifically showing a loss of monoplanar organization, smaller average dendritic diameter and reduced densities of Purkinje cell spines and synapses. Early morphological defects appear to affect distribution of dendritic, but not axonal, proteins. This study confirms that thinning of the molecular layer associated with disease pathogenesis is a consequence of Purkinje cell dendritic degeneration, as Purkinje cells from 8-month old β-III−/− mice have drastically reduced dendritic volumes, surface areas and total dendritic lengths compared to 5–6 week old β-III−/− mice. These findings highlight a critical role of β-III spectrin in dendritic biology and are consistent with an early developmental defect in β-III−/− mice, with abnormal Purkinje cell dendritic morphology potentially underlying disease pathogenesis.
β-III spectrin is present in the brain and is known to be important in the function of the cerebellum. Heterozygous mutations in SPTBN2, the gene encoding β-III spectrin, cause Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 5 (SCA5), an adult-onset, slowly progressive, autosomal-dominant pure cerebellar ataxia. SCA5 is sometimes known as “Lincoln ataxia,” because the largest known family is descended from relatives of the United States President Abraham Lincoln. Using targeted capture and next-generation sequencing, we identified a homozygous stop codon in SPTBN2 in a consanguineous family in which childhood developmental ataxia co-segregates with cognitive impairment. The cognitive impairment could result from mutations in a second gene, but further analysis using whole-genome sequencing combined with SNP array analysis did not reveal any evidence of other mutations. We also examined a mouse knockout of β-III spectrin in which ataxia and progressive degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells has been previously reported and found morphological abnormalities in neurons from prefrontal cortex and deficits in object recognition tasks, consistent with the human cognitive phenotype. These data provide the first evidence that β-III spectrin plays an important role in cortical brain development and cognition, in addition to its function in the cerebellum; and we conclude that cognitive impairment is an integral part of this novel recessive ataxic syndrome, Spectrin-associated Autosomal Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia type 1 (SPARCA1). In addition, the identification of SPARCA1 and normal heterozygous carriers of the stop codon in SPTBN2 provides insights into the mechanism of molecular dominance in SCA5 and demonstrates that the cell-specific repertoire of spectrin subunits underlies a novel group of disorders, the neuronal spectrinopathies, which includes SCA5, SPARCA1, and a form of West syndrome.
β-III spectrin is present in the brain and is known to be important in the function of the cerebellum. Mutations in β-III spectrin cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5), sometimes called Lincoln ataxia because it was first described in the relatives of United States President Abraham Lincoln. This is generally an adult-onset progressive cerebellar disorder. Recessive mutations have not previously been described in any of the brain spectrins. We identified a homozygous mutation in SPTBN2, which causes a more severe disorder than SCA5, with a developmental cerebellar ataxia, which is present from childhood; in addition there is marked cognitive impairment. We call this novel condition SPARCA1 (Spectrin-associated Autosomal Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia type 1). This condition could be caused by two separate gene mutations; but we show, using a combination of genome-wide mapping, whole-genome sequencing, and detailed behavioural and neuropathological analysis of a β-III spectrin mouse knockout, that both the ataxia and cognitive impairment are caused by the recessive mutations in β-III spectrin. SPARCA1 is one of a family of neuronal spectrinopathies and illustrates the importance of spectrins in brain development and function.
How spectrin mutations caused Purkinje cell death becomes clearer following studies that examined the effect of expressing mutant SCA5 in the fly eye. Mutant spectrin causes deficits in synapse formation at the neuromuscular junction and disrupts vesicular trafficking.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in the SPBTN2 gene encoding β-III–spectrin. To investigate the molecular basis of SCA5, we established a series of transgenic Drosophila models that express human β-III–spectrin or fly β-spectrin proteins containing SCA5 mutations. Expression of the SCA5 mutant spectrin in the eye causes a progressive neurodegenerative phenotype, and expression in larval neurons results in posterior paralysis, reduced synaptic terminal growth, and axonal transport deficits. These phenotypes are genetically enhanced by both dynein and dynactin loss-of-function mutations. In summary, we demonstrate that SCA5 mutant spectrin causes adult-onset neurodegeneration in the fly eye and disrupts fundamental intracellular transport processes that are likely to contribute to this progressive neurodegenerative disease.
A missense mutation in the fibroblast growth factor 14 (FGF14) gene underlies SCA27, an autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia in humans. Mice with a targeted disruption of the Fgf14 locus (Fgf14−/−) develop ataxia resembling human SCA27. We tested the hypothesis that loss of FGF14 affects the firing properties of Purkinje neurons, which play an important role in motor control and coordination. Current clamp recordings from Purkinje neurons in cerebellar slices revealed attenuated spontaneous firing in Fgf14−/− neurons. Unlike in the wild type animals, more than 80% of Fgf14−/− Purkinje neurons were quiescent and failed to fire repetitively in response to depolarizing current injections. Immunohistochemical examination revealed reduced expression of Nav1.6 protein in Fgf14−/− Purkinje neurons. Together, these observations suggest that FGF14 is required for normal Nav1.6 expression in Purkinje neurons, and that the loss of FGF14 impairs spontaneous and repetitive firing in Purkinje neurons by altering the expression of Nav1.6 channels.
Spinocerebellar ataxia; Intracellular fibroblast growth factor 14 (iFGF14); Purkinje neurons; Nav 1.6; SCA27
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations in β-III spectrin. A mouse lacking full-length β-III spectrin has a phenotype closely mirroring symptoms of SCA5 patients. Here we report the analysis of heterozygous animals, which show no signs of ataxia or cerebellar degeneration up to 2 years of age. This argues against haploinsufficiency as a disease mechanism and points towards human mutations having a dominant-negative effect on wild-type (WT) β-III spectrin function. Cell culture studies using β-III spectrin with a mutation associated with SCA5 (L253P) reveal that mutant protein, instead of being found at the cell membrane, appears trapped in the cytoplasm associated with the Golgi apparatus. Furthermore, L253P β-III spectrin prevents correct localization of WT β-III spectrin and prevents EAAT4, a protein known to interact with β-III spectrin, from reaching the plasma membrane. Interaction of β-III spectrin with Arp1, a subunit of the dynactin–dynein complex, is also lost with the L253P substitution. Despite intracellular accumulation of proteins, this cellular stress does not induce the unfolded protein response, implying the importance of membrane protein loss in disease pathogenesis. Incubation at lower temperature (25°C) rescues L253P β-III spectrin interaction with Arp1 and normal protein trafficking to the membrane. These data provide evidence for a dominant-negative effect of an SCA5 mutation and show for the first time that trafficking of both β-III spectrin and EAAT4 from the Golgi is disrupted through failure of the L253P mutation to interact with Arp1.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is a dominantly inherited disorder characterized by progressive loss of coordination, motor impairment and the degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells, spinocerebellar tracts and brainstem nuclei. Many dominantly inherited neurodegenerative diseases share the mutational basis of SCA1: the expansion of a translated CAG repeat coding for glutamine. Mice lacking ataxin-1 display learning deficits and altered hippocampal synaptic plasticity but none of the abnormalities seen in human SCA1; mice expressing ataxin-1 with an expanded CAG tract (82 glutamine residues), however, develop Purkinje cell pathology and ataxia. These results suggest that mutant ataxin-1 gains a novel function that leads to neuronal degeneration. This novel function might involve aberrant interaction(s) with cell-specific protein(s), which in turn might explain the selective neuronal pathology. Mutant ataxin-1 interacts preferentially with a leucine-rich acidic nuclear protein that is abundantly expressed in cerebellar Purkinje cells and other brain regions affected in SCA1. Immunolocalization studies in affected neurons of patients and SCA1 transgenic mice showed that mutant ataxin-1 localizes to a single, ubiquitin-positive nuclear inclusion (NI) that alters the distribution of the proteasome and certain chaperones. Further analysis of NIs in transfected HeLa cells established that the proteasome and chaperone proteins co-localize with ataxin-1 aggregates. Moreover, overexpression of the chaperone HDJ-2/HSDJ in HeLa cells decreased ataxin-1 aggregation, suggesting that protein misfolding might underlie NI formation. To assess the importance of the nuclear localization of ataxin-1 and its role in SCA1 pathogenesis, two lines of transgenic mice were generated. In the first line, the nuclear localization signal was mutated so that full-length mutant ataxin-1 would remain in the cytoplasm; mice from this line did not develop any ataxia or pathology. This suggests that mutant ataxin-1 is pathogenic only in the nucleus. To assess the role of the aggregates, transgenic mice were generated with mutant ataxin-1 without the self-association domain (SAD) essential for aggregate formation. These mice developed ataxia and Purkinje cell abnormalities similar to those seen in SCA1 transgenic mice carrying full-length mutant ataxin-1, but lacked NIs. The nuclear milieu is thus a critical factor in SCA1 pathogenesis, but large NIs are not needed to initiate pathogenesis. They might instead be downstream of the primary pathogenic steps. Given the accumulated evidence, we propose the following model for SCA1 pathogenesis: expansion of the polyglutamine tract alters the conformation of ataxin-1, causing it to misfold. This in turn leads to aberrant protein interactions. Cell specificity is determined by the cell-specific proteins interacting with ataxin-1. Submicroscopic protein aggregation might occur because of protein misfolding, and those aggregates become detectable as NIs as the disease advances. Proteasome redistribution to the NI might contribute to disease progression by disturbing proteolysis and subsequent vital cellular functions.
Spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) constitute a heterogeneous group of more than 30 autosomal-dominant genetic and neurodegenerative disorders. SCAs are generally characterized by progressive ataxia and cerebellar atrophy. Although all SCA patients present with the phenotypic overlap of cerebellar atrophy and ataxia, 17 different gene loci have so far been implicated as culprits in these SCAs. It is not currently understood how mutations in these 17 proteins lead to the cerebellar atrophy and ataxia. Several pathogenic mechanisms have been studied in SCAs but there is yet to be a promising target for successful treatment of SCAs. Emerging research suggests that a fundamental cellular signaling pathway is disrupted by a majority of these mutated genes, which could explain the characteristic death of Purkinje cells, cerebellar atrophy, and ataxia that occur in many SCAs. We propose that mutations in SCA genes cause disruptions in multiple cellular pathways but the characteristic SCA pathogenesis does not begin until calcium signaling pathways are disrupted in cerebellar Purkinje cells either as a result of an excitotoxic increase or a compensatory suppression of calcium signaling. We argue that disruptions in Purkinje cell calcium signaling lead to initial cerebellar dysfunction and ataxic sympoms and eventually proceed to Purkinje cell death. Here, we discuss a calcium hypothesis of Purkinje cell neurodegeneration in SCAs by primarily focusing on an example of spinocerebellar ataxia 2 (SCA2). We will also present evidence linking deranged calcium signaling to the pathogenesis of other SCAs (SCA1, 3, 5, 6, 14, 15/16) that lead to significant Purkinje cell dysfunction and loss in patients.
Purkinje cell; Calcium; Ataxia; Polyglutamine; Excitotoxicity; Neurodegeneration; SCA2
The relationship between cerebellar dysfunction, motor symptoms and neuronal loss in the inherited ataxias, including the polyglutamine disease Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 3 (SCA3), remains poorly understood. We demonstrate that prior to neurodegeneration, Purkinje neurons in a mouse model of SCA3 exhibit increased intrinsic excitability resulting in depolarization block and the loss of the ability to sustain spontaneous repetitive firing. These alterations in intrinsic firing are associated with increased inactivation of voltage-activated potassium currents. Administration of an activator of calcium-activated potassium channels, SKA-31, partially corrects abnormal Purkinje cell firing and improves motor function in SCA3 mice. Finally, expression of the disease protein, ataxin-3, in transfected cells increases the inactivation of Kv3.1 channels and shifts the activation of Kv1.2 channels to more depolarized potentials. Our results suggest that in SCA3, early Purkinje neuron dysfunction is associated with altered physiology of voltage-activated potassium channels. We further suggest that the observed changes in Purkinje neuron physiology contribute to disease pathogenesis, underlie at least some motor symptoms, and represent a promising therapeutic target in SCA3.
The spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are a genetically heterogeneous group of cerebellar degenerative disorders, characterized by progressive gait unsteadiness, hand incoordination, and dysarthria. The mutational mechanism in SCA1, a dominantly inherited form of SCA, consists of an expanded trinucleotide CAG repeat. In SCA1, there is loss of Purkinje cells, neuronal loss in dentate nucleus, olives, and pontine nuclei. In the present study, we sought to apply intrinsic functional connectivity analysis combined with diffusion tensor imaging to define the state of cerebellar connectivity in SCA1. Our results on the intrinsic functional connectivity in lateral cerebellum and thalamus showed progressive organizational changes in SCA1 noted as a progressive increase in the absolute value of the correlation coefficients. In the lateral cerebellum, the anatomical organization of functional clusters seen as parasagittal bands in controls is lost, changing to a patchy appearance in SCA1. Lastly, only fractional anisotropy in the superior peduncle and changes in functional organization in thalamus showed a linear dependence to duration and severity of disease. The present pilot work represents an initial effort describing connectivity biomarkers of disease progression in SCA1. The functional changes detected with intrinsic functional analysis and diffusion tensor imaging suggest that disease progression can be analyzed as a disconnection syndrome.
Networks; MRI; Biomarkers; Ataxia
Autosomal Dominant Cerebellar Ataxia (ADCA) Type III is a type of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) classically characterized by pure cerebellar ataxia and occasionally by non-cerebellar signs such as pyramidal signs, ophthalmoplegia, and tremor. The onset of symptoms typically occurs in adulthood; however, a minority of patients develop clinical features in adolescence. The incidence of ADCA Type III is unknown. ADCA Type III consists of six subtypes, SCA5, SCA6, SCA11, SCA26, SCA30, and SCA31. The subtype SCA6 is the most common. These subtypes are associated with four causative genes and two loci. The severity of symptoms and age of onset can vary between each SCA subtype and even between families with the same subtype. SCA5 and SCA11 are caused by specific gene mutations such as missense, inframe deletions, and frameshift insertions or deletions. SCA6 is caused by trinucleotide CAG repeat expansions encoding large uninterrupted glutamine tracts. SCA31 is caused by repeat expansions that fall outside of the protein-coding region of the disease gene. Currently, there are no specific gene mutations associated with SCA26 or SCA30, though there is a confirmed locus for each subtype. This disease is mainly diagnosed via genetic testing; however, differential diagnoses include pure cerebellar ataxia and non-cerebellar features in addition to ataxia. Although not fatal, ADCA Type III may cause dysphagia and falls, which reduce the quality of life of the patients and may in turn shorten the lifespan. The therapy for ADCA Type III is supportive and includes occupational and speech modalities. There is no cure for ADCA Type III, but a number of recent studies have highlighted novel therapies, which bring hope for future curative treatments.
SCA5; SCA6; SCA11; SCA26; SCA30; SCA31; SPTBN2; CACNA1A; TTBK2; BEAN
Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) refers to a disease entity in which polyglutamine aggregates are over-produced in Purkinje cells (PCs) of the cerebellum as well as other neurons in the central nervous system, and the formation of intracellular polyglutamine aggregates result in the loss of neurons as well as deterioration of motor functions. So far there is no effective neuroprotective treatment for this debilitating disease although numerous efforts have been made. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) possess multi-lineage differentiation potentials as well as immuno-modulatory properties, and are theoretically good candidates for SCA treatment. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether transplantation of human MSCs (hMSCs) can rescue cerebellar PCs and ameliorate motor function deterioration in SCA in a pre-clinical animal model.
Transgenic mice bearing poly-glutamine mutation in ataxin-2 gene (C57BL/6J SCA2 transgenic mice) were serially transplanted with hMSCs intravenously or intracranially before and after the onset of motor function loss. Motor function of mice was evaluated by an accelerating protocol of rotarod test every 8 weeks. Immunohistochemical stain of whole brain sections was adopted to demonstrate the neuroprotective effect of hMSC transplantation on cerebellar PCs and engraftment of hMSCs into mice brain.
Intravenous transplantation of hMSCs effectively improved rotarod performance of SCA2 transgenic mice and delayed the onset of motor function deterioration; while intracranial transplantation failed to achieve such neuroprotective effect. Immunohistochemistry revealed that intravenous transplantation was more effective in the preservation of the survival of cerebellar PCs and engraftment of hMSCs than intracranial injection, which was compatible to rotarod performance of transplanted mice.
Intravenous transplantation of hMSCs can indeed delay the onset as well as improve the motor function of SCA2 transgenic mice. The results of this preclinical study strongly support further exploration of the feasibility to transplant hMSCs for SCA patients.
To clarify the clinical, neuropathological, and molecular
characteristics of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6), two unrelated Japanese families with SCA6 were studied. A clinical feature of the two
families was late onset "pure" cerebellar ataxia. Pathologically, three SCA6 brains consistently showed Purkinje cell dominant cortical cerebellar degeneration. Morphometric analysis showed that loss of the
cerebellar granule cells and inferior olivary neurons were very mild
compared with the severity of Purkinje cell loss. There was no obvious
ubiquitin immunoreactive nuclear inclusions. All affected patients had
identical expanded alleles, and the expansion was also homogeneously
distributed throughout the brain without mosaicism. The present study
showed that SCA6 is characterised by Purkinje cell dominant cortical
cerebellar degeneration, highly stable transmission of the CAG repeat
expansion, and lack of ubiquitin immunoreactive nuclear inclusions.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) is an autosomal dominantly inherited disorder, which is caused by a pathological expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) tract in the coding region of the ATXN2 gene. Like other ataxias, SCA2 most overtly affects Purkinje cells (PCs) in the cerebellum. Using a transgenic mouse model expressing a full-length ATXN2Q127-complementary DNA under control of the Pcp2 promoter (a PC-specific promoter), we examined the time course of behavioral, morphologic, biochemical and physiological changes with particular attention to PC firing in the cerebellar slice. Although motor performance began to deteriorate at 8 weeks of age, reductions in PC number were not seen until after 12 weeks. Decreases in the PC firing frequency first showed at 6 weeks and paralleled deterioration of motor performance with progression of disease. Transcription changes in several PC-specific genes such as Calb1 and Pcp2 mirrored the time course of changes in PC physiology with calbindin-28 K changes showing the first small, but significant decreases at 4 weeks. These results emphasize that in this model of SCA2, physiological and behavioral phenotypes precede morphological changes by several weeks and provide a rationale for future studies examining the effects of restoration of firing frequency on motor function and prevention of future loss of PCs.
Whether changes in neuronal excitability can cause neurodegenerative disease in the absence of other factors such as protein aggregation is unknown. Mutations in the Kv3.3 voltage-gated K+ channel cause spinocerebellar ataxia type-13 (SCA13), a human autosomal dominant disease characterized by locomotor impairment and the death of cerebellar neurons. Kv3.3 channels facilitate repetitive, high-frequency firing of action potentials, suggesting that pathogenesis in SCA13 is triggered by changes in electrical activity in neurons. To investigate whether SCA13 mutations alter excitability in vivo, we expressed the human dominant negative R420H mutant subunit in zebrafish. The disease-causing mutation specifically suppressed the excitability of Kv3.3-expressing, fast-spiking motor neurons during evoked firing and fictive swimming and, in parallel, decreased the precision and amplitude of the startle response. The dominant negative effect of the mutant subunit on K+ current amplitude was directly responsible for the reduced excitability and locomotor phenotype. Our data provide strong evidence that changes in excitability initiate pathogenesis in SCA13 and establish zebrafish as an excellent model system for investigating how changes in neuronal activity impair locomotor control and cause cell death.
Ataxia is a neurological disorder characterized by loss of control of body movements. Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), previously known as autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia, is a biologically robust group of close to 30 progressive neurodegenerative diseases. Six SCAs, including the more prevalent SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, and SCA6 along with SCA7 and SCA17 are caused by expansion of a CAG repeat that encodes a polyglutamine tract in the affected protein. How the mutated proteins in these polyglutamine SCAs cause disease is highly debated. Recent work suggests that the mutated protein contributes to pathogenesis within the context of its “normal” cellular function. Thus, understanding the cellular function of these proteins could aid in the development of therapeutics.
Background and objective: Spinocerebellar ataxia 7 (SCA7) is characterised by cerebellar ataxia and visual loss. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings characteristic of patients with SCA7.
Methods: Twenty patients with SCA (eight SCA3, three SCA6, and nine SCA7) and 20 control subjects underwent an MRI-based volumetric analysis.
Results: The pontine volume in patients with SCA7 was decreased by a greater amount than in patients with other types of SCA (p<0.01), whereas the cerebellar volume was not different from that in other types of SCA (p>0.05). Pontine atrophy was a consistent finding in all patients with SCA7 regardless of the degree of cerebellar atrophy or the severity or duration of illness. In contrast, cerebellar atrophy was not found in those with a short duration of illness or mild ataxia, but became prominent as the severity and duration of illness progressed.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that neurodegeneration is ongoing during the life of individuals with SCA7, and that the primary pathology in these individuals involves the brainstem rather than the cerebellum. In addition, pontine atrophy is a prominent, consistent finding in SCA7, and may help in establishing the clinical diagnosis of SCA7.
Spinocerebellar ataxia 1 (SCA1) is a dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease associated with progressive ataxia resulting from the loss of cerebellar Purkinje cells (PCs) and neurons in the brainstem. In PCs of SCA1 transgenic (Tg) mice, the disease causing ataxin-1 protein mediates the formation of S100B containing cytoplasmic vacuoles and further self-aggregates to form intranuclear inclusions. The exact function of the ataxin-1 protein is not fully understood. However, the aggregation and neurotoxicity of the mutant ataxin-1 protein is dependent on the phosphorylation at serine 776 (S776). Although protein kinase A (PKA) has been implicated as the S776 kinase, the mechanism of PKA/ataxin-1 regulation in SCA1 is still not clear. We propose that a dopamine D2 receptor (D2R)/S100B pathway may be involved in modulating PKA activity in PCs. Using a D2R/S100B HEK stable cell line transiently transfected with GFP-ataxin-1[82Q], we demonstrate that stimulation of the D2R/S100B pathway caused a reduction in mutant ataxin-1 S776 phosphorylation and ataxin-1 aggregation. Activation of PKA by forskolin resulted in an enhanced S776 phosphorylation and increased ataxin-1 nuclear aggregation, which was suppressed by treatment with D2R agonist bromocriptine and PKA inhibitor H89. Furthermore, treating SCA1 Tg PC slice cultures with forskolin induced neurodegenerative morphological abnormalities in PC dendrites consistent with those observed in vivo. Taken together our data support a mechanism where PKA dependent mutant ataxin-1 phosphorylation and aggregation can be regulated by D2R/S100B signaling.
Autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia, currently denominated Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCAs) represents a heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative disorders affecting the cerebellum and its connections. We describe clinical and molecular findings in sixteen patients originating from Malian families, who suffer from progressive cerebellar ataxia syndrome. Molecular analysis allows genetic profiles of spinocerebellar ataxia to be distinguished. In seven patients, SCA type 2 (CAG) mutation was expanded from 39 to 43 repeats. SCA type 7(CAG)mutation was confirmed in six patients .Mutations were expanded from 49 to 59 repeats. In three patients, SCA type 3 was diagnosed and CAG mutation was expanded to 73 repeats.
Our data suggests that the most frequent types of SCA are SCA2 and SCA7. However, further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results.
Spinocerebellar ataxia- genetic; inherited disorders- Malians
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is one of nine inherited neurodegenerative disorders caused by a mutant protein with an expanded polyglutamine tract. Phosphorylation of ataxin-1 (ATXN1) at serine 776 is implicated in SCA1 pathogenesis. Previous studies, utilizing transfected cell lines and a Drosophila photoreceptor model of SCA1, suggest that phosphorylating ATXN1 at S776 renders it less susceptible to degradation. This work also indicated that oncogene from AKR mouse thymoma (Akt) promotes the phosphorylation of ATXN1 at S776 and severity of neurodegeneration. Here, we examined the phosphorylation of ATXN1 at S776 in cerebellar Purkinje cells, a prominent site of pathology in SCA1. We found that while phosphorylation of S776 is associated with a stabilization of ATXN1 in Purkinje cells, inhibition of Akt either in vivo or in a cerebellar extract-based phosphorylation assay did not decrease the phosphorylation of ATXN1-S776. In contrast, immunodepletion and inhibition of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase decreased phosphorylation of ATXN1-S776. These results argue against Akt as the in vivo kinase that phosphorylates S776 of ATXN1 and suggest that cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase is the active ATXN1-S776 kinase in the cerebellum.
ataxin-1; cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase; oncogene from AKR mouse thymoma; phosphorylation; spinocerebellar ataxia type 1
The expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) tract in the N-terminal region of ataxin-7 (atxn7) is the causative event in spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7), an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder mainly characterized by progressive, selective loss of rod-cone photoreceptors and cerebellar Purkinje and granule cells. The molecular and cellular processes underlying this restricted neuronal vulnerability, which contrasts with the broad expression pattern of atxn7, remains one of the most enigmatic features of SCA7, and more generally of all polyQ disorders. To gain insight into this specific neuronal vulnerability and achieve a better understanding of atxn7 function, we carried out a functional analysis of this protein in the teleost fish Danio rerio. We characterized the zebrafish atxn7 gene and its transcription pattern, and by making use of morpholino-oligonucleotide-mediated gene inactivation, we analysed the phenotypes induced following mild or severe zebrafish atxn7 depletion. Severe or nearly complete zebrafish atxn7 loss-of-function markedly impaired embryonic development, leading to both early embryonic lethality and severely deformed embryos. More importantly, in relation to SCA7, moderate depletion of the protein specifically, albeit partially, prevented the differentiation of both retina photoreceptors and cerebellar Purkinje and granule cells. In addition, [1–232] human atxn7 fragment rescued these phenotypes showing strong function conservation of this protein through evolution. The specific requirement for zebrafish atxn7 in the proper differentiation of cerebellar neurons provides, to our knowledge, the first in vivo evidence of a direct functional relationship between atxn7 and the differentiation of Purkinje and granule cells, the most crucial neurons affected in SCA7 and most other polyQ-mediated SCAs. These findings further suggest that altered protein function may play a role in the pathophysiology of the disease, an important step toward the development of future therapeutic strategies.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 13 (SCA13) is an autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in the Kv3.3 voltage-gated potassium (K+) channel. SCA13 exists in two forms: infant onset is characterized by severe cerebellar atrophy, persistent motor deficits and intellectual disability, whereas adult onset is characterized by progressive ataxia and progressive cerebellar degeneration. To test the hypothesis that infant- and adult-onset mutations have differential effects on neuronal development that contribute to the age at which SCA13 emerges, we expressed wild-type Kv3.3 or infant- or adult-onset mutant proteins in motor neurons in the zebrafish spinal cord. We characterized the development of CaP (caudal primary) motor neurons at ∼36 and ∼48 hours post-fertilization using confocal microscopy and 3D digital reconstruction. Exogenous expression of wild-type Kv3.3 had no significant effect on CaP development. In contrast, CaP neurons expressing the infant-onset mutation made frequent pathfinding errors, sending long, abnormal axon collaterals into muscle territories that are normally innervated exclusively by RoP (rostral primary) or MiP (middle primary) motor neurons. This phenotype might be directly relevant to infant-onset SCA13 because interaction with inappropriate synaptic partners might trigger cell death during brain development. Importantly, pathfinding errors were not detected in CaP neurons expressing the adult-onset mutation. However, the adult-onset mutation tended to increase the complexity of the distal axonal arbor. From these results, we speculate that infant-onset SCA13 is associated with marked changes in the development of Kv3.3-expressing cerebellar neurons, reducing their health and viability early in life and resulting in the withered cerebellum seen in affected children.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by expansion of a CAG repeat encoding a polyglutamine tract in ATXN7, a component of the SAGA histone acetyltransferase (HAT) complex. Previous studies provided conflicting evidence regarding the effects of polyQ–ATXN7 on the activity of Gcn5, the HAT catalytic subunit of SAGA. Here, we report that reducing Gcn5 expression accelerates both cerebellar and retinal degeneration in a mouse model of SCA7. Deletion of Gcn5 in Purkinje cells in mice expressing wild-type (wt) Atxn7, however, causes only mild ataxia and does not lead to the early lethality observed in SCA7 mice. Reduced Gcn5 expression strongly enhances retinopathy in SCA7 mice, but does not affect the known transcriptional targets of Atxn7, as expression of these genes is not further altered by Gcn5 depletion. These findings demonstrate that loss of Gcn5 functions can contribute to the time of onset and severity of SCA7 phenotypes, and suggest that non-transcriptional functions of SAGA may play a role in neurodegeneration in this disease.
The spinocerebellar ataxia type 23 locus was identified in 2004 based on linkage analysis in a large, two-generation Dutch family. The age of onset ranged 43–56 years and the phenotype was characterized by a slowly progressive, isolated ataxia. Neuropathological examination revealed neuronal loss in the Purkinje cell layer, dentate nuclei, and inferior olives. Ubiquitin-positive intranuclear inclusions were found in nigral neurons, but were considered to be Marinesco bodies. The disease locus on chromosome 20p13-12.3 was found to span a region of approximately 6 Mb of genomic DNA, containing 97 known or predicted genes. To date, no other families have been described that also map to this SCA locus. Direct sequencing of the coding regions of 21 prioritized candidate genes did not reveal any disease-causing mutation. Apparently, the SCA23 gene is a disease gene with a different function than the genes that have been associated with other known SCA types. Work to elucidate the chromosomal organization of the SCA23 locus will eventually discover the responsible disease gene.
Machado-Joseph Disease (MJD), also known as spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3), represents the most common form of SCA worldwide. MJD is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder of late onset, involving predominantly the cerebellar, pyramidal, extrapyramidal, motor neuron and oculomotor systems; although sharing features with other SCAs, the identification of minor, but more specific signs, facilitates its differential diagnosis. MJD presents strong phenotypic heterogeneity, which has justified the classification of patients into three main clinical types. Main pathological lesions are observed in the spinocerebellar system, as well as in the cerebellar dentate nucleus. MJD's causative mutation consists in an expansion of an unstable CAG tract in exon 10 of the ATXN3 gene, located at 14q32.1. Haplotype-based studies have suggested that two main founder mutations may explain the present global distribution of the disease; the ancestral haplotype is of Asian origin, and has an estimated age of around 5,800 years, while the second mutational event has occurred about 1,400 years ago. The ATXN3 gene encodes for ataxin-3, which is ubiquitously expressed in neuronal and non-neuronal tissues, and, among other functions, is thought to participate in cellular protein quality control pathways. Mutated ATXN3 alleles consensually present about 61 to 87 CAG repeats, resulting in an expanded polyglutamine tract in ataxin-3. This altered protein gains a neurotoxic function, through yet unclear mechanisms. Clinical variability of MJD is only partially explained by the size of the CAG tract, which leaves a residual variance that should be explained by still unknown additional factors. Several genetic tests are available for MJD, and Genetic Counseling Programs have been created to better assist the affected families, namely on what concerns the possibility of pre-symptomatic testing. The main goal of this review was to bring together updated knowledge on MJD, covering several aspects from its initial descriptions and clinical presentation, through the discovery of the causative mutation, its origin and dispersion, as well as molecular genetics aspects considered essential for a better understanding of its neuropathology. Issues related with molecular testing and Genetic Counseling, as well as recent progresses and perspectives on genetic therapy, are also addressed.
Ataxin-3; ATXN3 gene; CAG repeats; Polyglutamine disorders; SCA3
In some neurodegenerative diseases, genetic anticipation correlates with expansions of the CAG/CTG repeat sequence above the normal range through the generations of a pedigree. Among these neurodegenerative diseases are late onset autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias (ADCA). ADCA are genetically heterogeneous disorders with different cloned genes for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), type 2 (SCA2), type 3 or Machado-Joseph disease (SCA3/MJD), and type 6 (SCA6). Another related dominant ataxia, dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA), also shows CAG/CTG repeat expansions. Genetic anticipation has been reported for all of them except for the recently cloned SCA6 gene. Other, as yet undetected SCA genes may show the same features. We have used the repeat expansion detection (RED) method to detect repeat expansions directly in DNA samples from ADCA patients not resulting from known genes. Our sample consists of 19 affected index cases, corresponding to 52.8% of our ADCA families without CAG/CTG repeat expansions in the SCA1, SCA2, SCA3/MJD, SCA6, or DRPLA genes. Eighty-nine percent of the index cases had expansions of a CAG/CTG sequence greater than 40 repeats by RED, while these were observed in only 26.9% of 78 healthy subjects from the general population (p < 0.0001). The distribution of RED fragments in controls and ADCA patients also shows significant differences with the Mann-Whitney U test (U = 376.5, p = 0.0007). Moreover, there was a significant inverse correlation between the size of expansion and the age of onset (r = -0.54, p = 0.018). These results show CAG/CTG repeat expansions of over 40 repeats in our sample of ADCA families not resulting from known SCA genes.