The Monogenic Primary Dystonias

Brain. 2009 Aug;132(Pt 8):2005-25. doi: 10.1093/brain/awp172. Epub 2009 Jul 3.


Presently, 17 distinct monogenic primary dystonias referred to as dystonias 1- 4, 5a,b, 6-8, 10-13 and 15-18 (loci DYT 1-4, 5a,b, 6-8, 10-13, 15-18) have been recognized. Twelve forms are inherited as autosomal dominant, four as autosomal recessive and one as an X-linked recessive trait. Three additional autosomal dominant forms (DYT9, DYT19 and DYT20) might exist based on linkage mapping to regions apparently different from, yet in close proximity to or overlapping with the known loci DYT18, DYT10 and DYT8. Clinically, this group of movement disorders includes pure dystonias and dystonia plus syndromes. In addition, dyskinesias (paroxysmal dystonias), although phenotypically distinct from classical dystonias, are discussed within this group. In pure dystonias, dystonia is occasionally accompanied by tremor. In dystonia plus syndromes, dystonia as the prominent sign concurs with other movement abnormalities such as myoclonus and parkinsonism. In the dyskinesias, dystonia occurs as a paroxysmal sign in association with other movement anomalies and sometimes seizures. While gross neuropathological changes are absent in most primary dystonias, including the paroxysmal forms, striking morphological alterations are found in some, such as in the X-linked dystonia-parkinsonism syndrome (DYT3). Neuropathological findings at the microscopic level have also been reported in several cases of dystonia 1 and 5, both of which were previously thought to be morphologically normal. One locus, DYT14 had been erroneously assigned, by linkage mapping, in a family with dystonia 5. There are two forms of dystonia 5, one autosomal dominant and one autosomal recessive. These forms are designated here as dystonia 5a and dystonia 5b (DYT5a, DYT5b), respectively. The disease gene has been identified in 10 primary dystonias, seven autosomal dominant (TOR1A/DYT1, GCH1/DYT5a, THAP1/DYT6, PNKD1/MR-1/DYT8, SGCE/DYT11, ATP1A3/DYT12 and SLC2A1/DYT18), two autosomal recessive (TH/DYT5b and PRKRA/DYT16) and one X-chromosomal recessive (TAF1/DYT3). This article summarizes all known aspects on each of the monogenic primary dystonias, including phenotype, neuropathology, imaging, inheritance, mapping, molecular genetics, molecular pathology, animal models and treatment. Suggestions for the diagnostic procedure in primary dystonias are given. Although much is now known about the molecular basis of primary dystonias, treatment of patients is still mainly symptomatic. The only exceptions are dystonias 5a and 5b with their excellent long-term response to L-dopa substitution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dystonic Disorders / classification
  • Dystonic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dystonic Disorders / genetics*
  • Genetic Diseases, X-Linked / diagnosis
  • Genetic Diseases, X-Linked / genetics
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Syndrome


  • Molecular Chaperones
  • TOR1A protein, human