Molecular pathogenesis of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6.

Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics

PubMedID: 17395139

Kordasiewicz HB, Gomez CM. Molecular pathogenesis of spinocerebellar ataxia type 6. Neurotherapeutics. 2007;4(2):285-94.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by abnormal expansions of a trinucleotide CAG repeat in exon 47 of the CACNA1A gene, which encodes the alpha1A subunit of the P/Q-type voltage-gated calcium channel. The CAG repeat expansion is translated into an elongated polyglutamine tract in the carboxyl terminus of the alpha1A subunit. The alpha1A subunit is the main pore-forming subunit of the P/Q-type calcium channel. Patients with SCA6 suffer from a severe form of progressive ataxia and cerebellar dysfunction. Design of treatments for this disorder will depend on better definition of the mechanism of disease. As a disease arising from a mutation in an ion channel gene, SCA6 may behave as an ion channelopathy, and may respond to attempts to modulate or correct ion channel function. Alternatively, as a disease in which the mutant protein contains an expanded polyglutamine tract, SCA6 may respond to the targets of drug therapies developed for Huntington's disease and other polyglutamine disorders. In this review we will compare SCA6 to other polyglutamine diseases and channelopathies, and we will highlight recent advances in our understanding of alpha1A subunits and SCA6 pathology. We also propose a mechanism for how two seemingly divergent hypotheses can be combined into a cohesive model for disease progression.