Machado-Joseph disease: correlation between the clinical features, the CAG repeat length and homozygosity for the mutation

Eur J Hum Genet. 1996;4(1):3-7. doi: 10.1159/000472162.


Machado-Joseph disease (MJD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder associated with the expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat in the MJD1 gene located on 14q32.1. We confirmed that the CAG expansion caused MJD in a Yemenite Jewish family and demonstrated that most of the clinical variation among members of this family was due to the genotype of the affected individuals. Six patients who presented with an early onset (25 years) and severe disorder were found to be homozygous for the CAG expansion. Among 5 heterozygotes for the CAG expansion older than 40 years, one had neurological symptoms from the age of 45, while the others were asymptomatic. In one of the heterozygotes, no neurological symptoms were present when last examined at the age of 66. Homozygosity for the MJD1 mutation was the main cause of variability in this large family, however, other factors clearly played a role in the expression of the gene. We could demonstrate that homozygote sibs with similar expansion in both alleles had significant differences in disease severity. Gender did not affect the clinical expression in this family.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 14
  • Female
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Jews / genetics
  • Machado-Joseph Disease / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Trinucleotide Repeats / genetics*
  • Yemen