Identification of five spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 pedigrees in patients with autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia in Taiwan

M Hsieh, S Y Li, C J Tsai, Y Y Chen, C S Liu, C Y Chang, L S Ro, D F Chen, S S Chen, C Li
Acta Neurologica Scandinavica 1999, 100 (3): 189-94

OBJECTIVES: The autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias (ADCAs) are a group of genetically diverse neurological conditions linked by progressive deterioration in balance and coordination. Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 2 (SCA2) is one of the ADCAs and also belongs to a special group caused by the expansion of an unstable CAG repeat encoding a polyglutamine tract. We aimed to investigate the frequency of SCA2 mutation in the ataxia patients referred to the clinic.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We screened 58 families with inherent cerebellar ataxia and 57 normal individuals by the use of radioactive genomic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. A simple non-radioactive PCR for rapid detection of the expanded SCA2 alleles via agarose gel electrophoresis was also employed.

RESULTS: Eight SCA2 affected patients and 1 at-risk individual in 5 unrelated SCA2 families were identified. The CAG repeats of normal alleles in the sample studied range in size from 16 to 30 repeat units, while those of SCA2 chromosomes are expanded to 34 to 49 repeat units. Our results also showed that unlike SCA 1 and SCA3/MJD, the size distribution of the normal alleles showed few polymorphisms, with the 22 repeat allele accounting for 90.1%. Homozygosity in normal individuals was 80.2%. No overlap in ataxin-2 allele size between normal and expanded chromosomes was observed.

CONCLUSION: This is the first report of the SCA2 gene distributions in the population of Taiwan. The SCA2 mutation accounts for 8.6% of ADCA type I families referred to us, intermediate between SCA1(1.7%) and SCA3/MJD (24%) of the ADCA type I families in our collection.

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