Molecular and functional studies of retinal degeneration as a clinical presentation of SACS-related disorder

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2015 Jul;19(4):472-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2015.02.005. Epub 2015 Mar 3.


Background: ARSACS (autosomal-recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by SACS gene mutations and characterized by a triad of symptoms: early-onset cerebellar ataxia, spasticity and peripheral neuropathy. A characteristic retinal nerve fiber hypertrophy has been reported in several individuals with ARSACS.

Methods: We describe a patient with a unique clinical presentation of ataxia, nystagmus, dysarthria, hearing impairment, and retinal degeneration. Whole-exome-sequencing was performed as well as morphological studies in the patient's fibroblasts.

Results: A compound heterozygosity for a novel D3269N and N2380K mutations in the SACS gene was found. The parents are carriers. Morphological studies revealed a dramatic decrease in the number of cell mitochondria as well as a difference in mitochondrial network morphology.

Conclusions: Retinal degeneration has never been reported in ARSACS. Since sacsin is involved in the mitochondrial fusion-fission process, we speculate that defected fission process may be responsible for an impaired mitochondrial function and retinal degeneration. Our patient has a unique clinical presentation of SACS mutations inconsistent with the classic ARSACS triad but also different from the "atypical" presentations described in the literature. Further studies are necessary to clarify the factors that modify the SACS related phenotype.

Keywords: ARSACS; Ataxia; Hearing loss; Night blindness; Retinal degeneration; SACS.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Muscle Spasticity / complications*
  • Muscle Spasticity / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Retinal Degeneration / genetics*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / complications
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / congenital*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / genetics


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • SACS protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • Spastic ataxia Charlevoix-Saguenay type