The DYT1 phenotype and guidelines for diagnostic testing

Neurology. 2000 May 9;54(9):1746-52. doi: 10.1212/wnl.54.9.1746.


Objective: To develop diagnostic testing guidelines for the DYT1 GAG deletion in the Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) and non-Jewish (NJ) primary torsion dystonia (PTD) populations and to determine the range of dystonic features in affected DYT1 deletion carriers.

Methods: The authors screened 267 individuals with PTD; 170 were clinically ascertained for diagnosis and treatment, 87 were affected family members ascertained for genetic studies, and 10 were clinically and genetically ascertained and included in both groups. We used published primers and PCR amplification across the critical DYT1 region to determine GAG deletion status. Features of dystonia in clinically ascertained (affected) DYT1 GAG deletion carriers and noncarriers were compared to determine a classification scheme that optimized prediction of carriers. The authors assessed the range of clinical features in the genetically ascertained (affected) DYT1 deletion carriers and tested for differences between AJ and NJ patients.

Results: The optimal algorithm for classification of clinically ascertained carriers was disease onset before age 24 years in a limb (misclassification, 16.5%; sensitivity, 95%; specificity, 80%). Although application of this classification scheme provided good separation in the AJ group (sensitivity, 96%; specificity, 88%), as well as in the group overall, it was less specific in discriminating NJ carriers from noncarriers (sensitivity, 94%; specificity, 69%). Using age 26 years as the cut-off and any site at onset gave a sensitivity of 100%, but specificity decreased to 54% (63% in AJ and 43% in NJ). Among genetically ascertained carriers, onset up to age 44 years occurred, although the great majority displayed early limb onset. There were no significant differences between AJ and NJ genetically ascertained carriers, except that a higher proportion of NJ carriers had onset in a leg, rather than an arm, and widespread disease.

Conclusions: Diagnostic DYT1 testing in conjunction with genetic counseling is recommended for patients with PTD with onset before age 26 years, as this single criterion detected 100% of clinically ascertained carriers, with specificities of 43% to 63%. Testing patients with onset after age 26 years also may be warranted in those having an affected relative with early onset, as the only carriers we observed with onset at age 26 or later were genetically ascertained relatives of individuals whose symptoms started before age 26 years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Dystonia Musculorum Deformans / diagnosis
  • Dystonia Musculorum Deformans / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Jews / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Chaperones*
  • Phenotype*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Predictive Value of Tests


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • TOR1A protein, human