Huntington disease in subjects from an Israeli Karaite community carrying alleles of intermediate and expanded CAG repeats in the HTT gene: Huntington disease or phenocopy?

J Neurol Sci. 2009 Feb 15;277(1-2):143-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2008.11.005. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


We report a cluster of patients from a Karaite Jew community with a movement disorder suggestive of Huntington disease (HD), in some cases associated with repeat lengths below the edge of 36 CAG repeats. The study describes the clinical and genetic features of four patients who were followed over several years. Patients belonged to an inbred family in whom progressive chorea, manifesting predominantly with dystonia and cerebellar features, developed during middle age. Although severe psychiatric symptoms ultimately developed in two of the four patients, cognitive function remained reasonably well preserved in all of them even after several disease years. Moderate cognitive deficits were limited to the visuomotor organization and abstract thinking subtests in three of the four patients. Qualitative brain imaging showed atrophy of brain predominantly involving cortex and cerebellum. Genetic testing revealed a variable mutation penetrance among family members, some affected members showing an upper allele size ranging from 34 to 49, whereas others remained unaffected despite the presence of the full mutation beyond 40 CAG repeats. Co-morbidity with recessive hereditary inclusion body myopathy was found in two subjects from one family. Although the main diagnosis of HD remains to be confirmed by further neuropathological studies, these cases may suggest that HD could manifest with as few as 34 CAG repeats, in some geographic areas, the disease phenotype most probably being influenced by additional, as yet unidentified, genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Consanguinity
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntingtin Protein
  • Huntington Disease / genetics*
  • Huntington Disease / pathology
  • Israel
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Trinucleotide Repeats / genetics*


  • HTT protein, human
  • Huntingtin Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins