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Recessive dystonia-ataxia syndrome in a Turkish family caused by a COX20 (FAM36A) mutation

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DYTCA is a syndrome that is characterized by predominant dystonia and mild cerebellar ataxia. We examined two affected siblings with healthy, consanguineous, Turkish parents. Both patients presented with a combination of childhood-onset cerebellar ataxia, dystonia, and sensory axonal neuropathy. In the brother, dystonic features were most pronounced in the legs, while his sister developed torticollis. Routine diagnostic investigations excluded known genetic causes. Biochemical analyses revealed a mitochondrial respiratory chain complex IV and a coenzyme Q10 deficiency in a muscle biopsy. By exome sequencing, we identified a homozygous missense mutation (c.154A >C; p.Thr52Pro) in both patients in exon 2 of the COX20 (FAM36A) gene, which encodes a complex IV assembly factor. This variant was confirmed by Sanger sequencing, was heterozygous in both parents, and was absent from 427 healthy controls. The exact same mutation was recently reported in a patient with ataxia and muscle hypotonia. Among 128 early-onset dystonia and/or ataxia patients, we did not detect any other patient with a COX20 mutation. cDNA sequencing and semi-quantitative analysis were performed in fibroblasts from one of our homozygous mutation carriers and six controls. In addition to the exchange of an amino acid, the mutation led to a shift in splicing. In conclusion, we extend the phenotypic spectrum of a recently identified mutation in COX20 to a recessively inherited, early-onset dystonia-ataxia syndrome that is characterized by reduced complex IV activity. Further, we confirm a pathogenic role of this mutation in cerebellar ataxia, but this mutation seems to be a rather rare cause.

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This work was supported by a grant from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Bonn, Germany) to the German network for mitochondrial disorders (mitoNET, 01GM1113A, to TK), a Grant from the Hermann and Lilly Schilling Foundation (to CK) and intramural funding from the University of Luebeck “Schwerpunktprogramm: Medizinische Genetik - Von seltenen Varianten zur Krankheitsentstehung” (to KL, PS, CZ, CK).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Katja Lohmann.

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S. Doss and K. Lohmann contributed equally to this work.

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Doss, S., Lohmann, K., Seibler, P. et al. Recessive dystonia-ataxia syndrome in a Turkish family caused by a COX20 (FAM36A) mutation. J Neurol 261, 207–212 (2014).

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