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Neurology. 1992 Nov;42(11):2118-24.

A 17th-century founder gives rise to a large north American pedigree of autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia not linked to the SCA1 locus on chromosome 6.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick 08903.


There have been three reports since 1969 of members of a "W" family with autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), and various conclusions have been drawn about the nosology. This pedigree has been traced back over 300 years through 11 generations. Although phenotypically similar to the disorder in the Schut-Swier, Nino, and other kindreds, the disorder in the W family is not linked to the SCA1 locus on chromosome 6, as reported in those hereditary ataxia pedigrees. The W family represents the largest such North American kindred yet reported. We examined 33 family members of a distantly related branch of the W family, determined the cumulative age of onset, and projected the number of present-day gene carriers. Two cases illustrate the spectrum of symptoms among family members. Age of onset and presenting symptom, however, seem to correlate both in our patients and in those previously reported. Between 2,000 and 5,000 individuals are estimated to be at risk of developing the disorder within this pedigree alone. The pedigree reported here will be valuable in the identification and cloning of a gene for hereditary ataxia, designated "SCA2" at the Eleventh International Workshop on Human Gene Mapping.

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