Understanding the molecular mechanisms of Friedreich's ataxia to develop therapeutic approaches

Hum Mol Genet. 2010 Apr 15;19(R1):R103-10. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddq165. Epub 2010 Apr 22.


Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by reduced expression of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. The physiopathological consequences of frataxin deficiency are a severe disruption of iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis, mitochondrial iron overload coupled to cellular iron dysregulation and an increased sensitivity to oxidative stress. Frataxin is a highly conserved protein, which has been suggested to participate in a variety of different roles associated with cellular iron homeostasis. The present review discusses recent advances that have made crucial contributions in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying FRDA and in advancements toward potential novel therapeutic approaches. Owing to space constraints, this review will focus on the most commonly accepted and solid molecular and biochemical studies concerning the function of frataxin and the physiopathology of the disease. We invite the reader to read the following reviews to have a more exhaustive overview of the field [Pandolfo, M. and Pastore, A. (2009) The pathogenesis of Friedreich ataxia and the structure and function of frataxin. J. Neurol., 256 (Suppl. 1), 9-17; Gottesfeld, J.M. (2007) Small molecules affecting transcription in Friedreich ataxia. Pharmacol. Ther., 116, 236-248; Pandolfo, M. (2008) Drug insight: antioxidant therapy in inherited ataxias. Nat. Clin. Pract. Neurol., 4, 86-96; Puccio, H. (2009) Multicellular models of Friedreich ataxia. J. Neurol., 256 (Suppl. 1), 18-24].

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Friedreich Ataxia / drug therapy*
  • Friedreich Ataxia / genetics
  • Friedreich Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Iron-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Mutation


  • Iron-Binding Proteins
  • frataxin