Cerebellar ataxias with autosomal dominant transmission are rare, but identification of the associated genes has provided insight into the mechanisms that could underlie other forms of genetic or non-genetic ataxias. In many instances, the phenotype is not restricted to cerebellar dysfunction but includes complex multisystemic neurological deficits. The designation of the loci, SCA for spinocerebellar ataxia, indicates the involvement of at least two systems: the spinal cord and the cerebellum. 11 of 18 known genes are caused by repeat expansions in the corresponding proteins, sharing the same mutational mechanism. All other SCAs are caused by either conventional mutations or large rearrangements in genes with different functions, including glutamate signalling (SCA5/SPTBN2) and calcium signalling (SCA15/16/ITPR1), channel function (SCA13/KCNC3, SCA14/PRKCG, SCA27/FGF14), tau regulation (SCA11/TTBK2), and mitochondrial activity (SCA28/AFG3L2) or RNA alteration (SCA31/BEAN-TK2). The diversity of underlying mechanisms that give rise to the dominant cerebellar ataxias need to be taken into account to identify therapeutic targets.
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