Novel frameshift mutation in the CACNA1A gene causing a mixed phenotype of episodic ataxia and familiar hemiplegic migraine

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2015 Jan;19(1):72-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2014.10.005. Epub 2014 Nov 3.


Episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2, MIM#108500) is the most common form of EA and an autosomal-dominant inherited disorder characterized by paroxysmal episodes of ataxia. The disease causative gene CACNA1A encodes for the alpha 1A subunit of the voltage-gated P/Q-type calcium channel. We report on a family with a novel mutation in the CACNA1A gene. The clinical symptoms within the family varied from the typical clinical presentation of EA2 with dysarthria, gait ataxia and oculomotor symptoms to migraine and dystonia. A novel nonsense mutation of the CACNA1A gene was identified in all affected family members and is most likely the disease causing molecular defect. The pharmacological treatment with acetazolamide (AAA) was successful in three family members so far. Treatment with AAA led to a reduction of migraine attacks and an improvement of the dystonia. This relationship confirmed the hypothesis that this novel mutation results in a heterogeneous phenotype and confutes the coincidence with common migraine. Dystonia is potentially included as a further part of the phenotype spectrum of CACNA1A gene mutations.

Keywords: Acetazolamide; CACNA1A gene; Dystonia; Episodic ataxia; Familiar hemiplegic migraine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acetazolamide / therapeutic use
  • Age of Onset
  • Calcium Channels / genetics*
  • Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / genetics*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Dysarthria / etiology
  • Dystonia / etiology
  • Female
  • Frameshift Mutation / genetics*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine with Aura / genetics*
  • Migraine with Aura / physiopathology
  • Pedigree


  • CACNA1A protein, human
  • Calcium Channels
  • Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors
  • Acetazolamide