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Brain. 2006 Jun;129(Pt 6):1357-70. Epub 2006 Apr 13.

Molecular pathogenesis of spinocerebellar ataxias.

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  • 1Institute of Child Health, University College London, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK. A.Matilla@ich.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

The autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are a group of neurodegenerative diseases, clinically and genetically heterogeneous, characterized by loss of balance and motor coordination due to dysfunction of the cerebellum and its afferent and efferent connections. Despite a well-described clinical and pathological phenotype, the molecular and cellular events that underlie neurodegeneration are still poorly understood. Compelling evidence points to major aetiological roles for interference with transcriptional regulation, protein aggregation and clearance, the ubiquitin-proteasome system and alterations of calcium homeostasis in the neuronal loss observed during the neurodegenerative process. But novel molecular routes that might be disrupted during disease progression are also being identified. These pathways could act independently or, more likely, interact and enhance each other, triggering the accumulation of cellular damage that eventually leads to dysfunction and, ultimately, the demise of neurons through a series of multiple events. This suggests that simultaneous targeting of several pathways might be therapeutically necessary to prevent neurodegeneration and preserve neuronal function. Understanding how dysregulation of these pathways mediates disease progression is leading to the establishment of effective therapeutic strategies in vivo, which may prove beneficial in the treatment of SCAs. Herein, we review the latest evidence for the proposed molecular processes to the pathogenesis of dominantly inherited spinocerebellar ataxias and the current therapeutic strategies.

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