Intermediate-length CAG expansions (encoding 27-33 glutamines, polyQ) of the Ataxin2 (ATXN2) gene represent a risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recently, it has been proposed that ≥31 CAG expansions may influence ALS phenotype. We assessed whether ATXN2 intermediate-length polyQ expansions influence ALS phenotype in a series of 375 patients of Sardinian ancestry. Controls were 247 neurologically healthy subjects, resident in the study area, age- and gender-matched to cases. The frequency of ≥31 polyQ ATNX2 repeats was significantly more common in ALS cases (4 patients vs. no control, p = 0.0001). All patients with ≥31 polyQ repeats had a spinal onset versus 73.3% of patients with <31 polyQ repeats. Patients with an increased number of polyQ repeats have a shorter survival than those with <31 repeats (1.2 vs. 4.2 years, p = 0.035). In this large series of ALS patients of Sardinian ancestry, we have found that ≥31 polyQ repeats of the ATXN2 gene influenced patients' phenotype, being associated to a spinal onset and a significantly shorter survival.
Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Ataxin 2 gene; Genetic modifier.
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