Screening for proteins with polyglutamine expansions in autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias

Hum Mol Genet. 1996 Dec;5(12):1887-92. doi: 10.1093/hmg/5.12.1887.


Expansion of trinucleotide CAG repeats coding for polyglutamine has been implicated in five neurodegenerative disorders, including spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) 1 and SCA3 or Machado-Joseph disease (SCA3/MJD), two forms of type I autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxias (ADCA). Using the 1C2 antibody which specifically recognizes large polyglutamine tracts, particularly those that are expanded, we recently reported the detection of proteins with pathological glutamine expansions in lymphoblasts from another form of ADCA type I, SCA2, as well as from patients presenting with the distinct phenotype of ADCA type II. We now have screened a large series of patients with ADCA or isolated cases with cerebellar ataxia, for the presence of proteins with polyglutamine expansions. A 150 kDa SCA2 protein was detected in 16 out of 40 families with ADCA type I. This corresponds to 24% of all ADCA type I families, which is much more frequent than SCA1 in this series of patients (13%). The signal intensity of the SCA2 protein was negatively correlated to age at onset, as expected for an expanded and unstable trinucleotide repeat mutation. The disease segregated with markers closely linked to the SCA2 locus in all identified SCA2 families. In addition, a specific 130 kDa protein, which segregated with the disease, was detected in lymphoblasts of patients from nine families with ADCA type II. It was also visualized in the cerebral cortex of one of the patients, demonstrating its translation in the nervous system. Finally, no new disease-related proteins containing expanded polyglutamine tracts could be detected in lymphoblasts from the remaining patients with ADCA or isolated cases with cerebellar ataxia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellar Ataxia / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, Dominant*
  • Humans
  • Machado-Joseph Disease / genetics*
  • Male
  • Peptides / genetics*
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid


  • Peptides
  • polyglutamine