Novel PNKP mutation in siblings with ataxia-oculomotor apraxia type 4

J Neurogenet. 2017 Mar-Jun;31(1-2):23-25. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2017.1322079.


The phenotypic and genetic spectrum of ataxia with oculomotor apraxia (AOA) disorders is rapidly evolving and new technologies such as genetic mapping using whole exome sequencing reveal subtle distinctions among the various subtypes. We report a novel PNKP mutation in two siblings with progressive ataxia, abnormal saccades, sensorimotor neuropathy and dystonia consistent with the AOA type 4 phenotype. Laboratory evaluation revealed hypoalbuminemia, hypercholesterolemia with elevated LDL, elevated IgE levels and normal α fetoprotein levels. Eye movement examination demonstrated a marked saccade initiation defect with profound hypometric horizontal saccades. Vertical saccades were also affected but less so. Also present were conspicuous thrusting head movements when attempting to change gaze, but rather than an apraxia these were an adaptive strategy to take advantage of an intact vestibulo-ocular reflex to carry the eyes to a new target of interest. This is demonstrated in accompanying videos.

Keywords: AOA type 4; Ataxia; PNKP; oculomotor apraxia; saccades.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / genetics*
  • Female
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / genetics*
  • Prognosis
  • Siblings
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / congenital*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / genetics
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / pathology
  • Young Adult


  • PNKP protein, human
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • DNA Repair Enzymes

Supplementary concepts

  • Spinocerebellar ataxia, autosomal recessive 1