Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 in China: molecular analysis and genotype-phenotype correlation in 5 families

Arch Neurol. 2001 May;58(5):789-94. doi: 10.1001/archneur.58.5.789.


Background: Twelve genetic types of autosomal dominant hereditary ataxia have been recently identified and the genes responsible for most of them cloned. Molecular identification of the type of ataxia is important to determine the disease prevalence and its natural history in various populations.

Objectives: To perform molecular analysis of 75 Chinese families affected with spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) and to evaluate the spectrum of mutations in these genes and the correlation between genotypes and phenotypes in Chinese patients.

Setting: Neurogenetics Unit, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, China.

Methods: One hundred nine patients from 75 kindreds diagnosed as having autosomal dominant SCA, 16 patients with sporadic SCA or spastic paraplegia, 280 control chromosomes of the Chinese population, and 120 control chromosomes of the Sakha population were selected for this study. We conducted detailed mutational analysis by direct sequencing of polymerase chain reaction products amplified from genomic DNA.

Results: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) was identified in 5 families with 12 studied patients. All affected family members were heterozygous for a CAG repeat expansion in the SCA1 gene containing 51 to 64 trinucleotide repeats. Normal alleles had 26 to 35 repeats. Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 accounted for 7% of the studied Chinese families with ataxia. In addition, we determined the frequency of a single vs double CAT interruption in 120 control chromosomes of the Siberian Sakha population, which has the highest known prevalence of SCA1, and compared this with 280 control chromosomes from the Chinese populations. The results show that 64.7% of the Siberian normal alleles contain a single CAT interruption, whereas 92% of the Chinese had more than 1 interruption.

Conclusions: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 is responsible for 7% of affected families in the Chinese population. A correlation between the prevalence of SCA1 and the number of CAT interruptions in the trinucleotide chain suggests that a CAT-to-CAG substitution may have been the initial event contributing to the generation of expanded alleles and influencing relative prevalence of SCA1.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Asian People / genetics*
  • Ataxia / classification
  • Ataxia / genetics
  • Ataxin-1
  • Ataxins
  • Base Sequence / genetics
  • China
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Reference Values
  • Siberia
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / genetics*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / physiopathology
  • Trinucleotide Repeats


  • ATXN1 protein, human
  • Ataxin-1
  • Ataxins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins