Molecular analysis of a de novo mutation for spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 and (CAG)n repeat units in normal elder controls

Author(s): Shizuka M, Watanabe M, Ikeda Y, Mizushima K, Okamoto K, et al.


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6) is an autosomal dominant spinocerebellar degenerative disease caused by CAG repeat expansions in the human alpha1A voltage-dependent calcium channel subunit gene (CACNL1A4). We analyzed 15 SCA6 patients in 14 unrelated Japanese families and 52 healthy Japanese aged over 74 years. Sequence analysis was performed to determine the correct number of CAG repeats. The expanded CAG repeat number was 23.6+/-2.1 (mean+/-S.D., n=15) with a range of 20-29, and the shortest expanded allele was 20 repeats. Moreover, the analysis of normal subjects revealed that the CAG repeat number of normal alleles was 12.3+/-1.9 (n=104) with a range of 7-18. We concluded that the normal range of CAG repeats in the CACNL1A4 gene is 18 or less, and that the disease range is 20 or more. Of 15 SCA6 patients, three sporadic cases were observed. In one male patient with 26 CAG repeats, the CAG repeat numbers of his parents were within normal range. His expanded allele was considered to be caused by an expansion of a normal allele from his mother (14 or 17 repeats). This is the first SCA6 case which was genetically proven to occur due to a de novo mechanism, suggesting that larger CAG repeats of normal alleles in the CACNL1A4 gene may be unstable and result in full expansion.

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