Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 28-Phenotypic and Molecular Characterization of a Family with Heterozygous and Compound-Heterozygous Mutations in AFG3L2

Cerebellum. 2019 Aug;18(4):817-822. doi: 10.1007/s12311-019-01036-2.


While heterozygous mutations in the AFG3L2 gene have been linked to spinocerebellar ataxia 28 (SCA28), homozygous mutations in the same gene can cause spastic ataxia 5 (SPAX5). AFG3L2 encodes a mitochondrial ATP-dependent metalloprotease. We here report a SCA28 patient with biallelic AFG3L2 variants and his heterozygous mother. The patient and his mother underwent a detailed neurological examination and fibroblast lines were established. The effect of the two missense variants on mitochondria was assessed by form factor analysis and quantification of mitochondrial proteins (TOMM70, complex V). The 39-year-old index patient presented with a slowly progressive cerebellar gait disorder for 19 years, bilateral ptosis, and dysarthria. A cranial MRI showed mild cerebellar atrophy. He carried two compound-heterozygous, rare, missense variants (c.1847A>G [p.Y616C], c.2167G>A [p.V723M]) in AFG3L2, while his mother was heterozygous for the first change that had previously been described in SPAX5. Altered mitochondrial morphology and interconnectivity, together with reduced protein levels of TOMM70 and complex V (ATPase), suggest mitochondrial structural defects in the patient's fibroblasts. No significant abnormalities were found in his mother's fibroblast cultures albeit all measurements were slightly below the control level. We here present a SCA28 patient with compound-heterozygous AFG3L2 variants and demonstrate mitochondrial abnormalities in skin fibroblast cultures from this patient. Thus, AFG3L2 variants should be considered in both slowly progressive ataxias and phenotypes with clinical features reminiscent of mitochondrial disease. Of note, ptosis was present in both mutation carriers and may serve as a red flag in the diagnosis of SCA28.

Keywords: AFG3L2 mutations; Ptosis; Spinocerebellar ataxia type 28.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Dependent Proteases / genetics*
  • ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities / genetics*
  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Disease Progression
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Mutation, Missense / genetics
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / congenital*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / genetics
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / physiopathology


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • ATP-Dependent Proteases
  • AFG3L2 protein, human
  • ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities

Supplementary concepts

  • Spinocerebellar ataxia 28