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Neurol Genet. 2019 Sep 23;5(5):e357. doi: 10.1212/NXG.0000000000000357. eCollection 2019 Oct.

A family with spinocerebellar ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa attributed to an ELOVL4 mutation.

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National Human Genome Research Institute (C.X.), Bethesda, MD; Department of Neurology (C.M.G.), University of Chicago Hospitals, IL; Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (E.M.B., E.M.S.), University of Iowa; Department Neurology (J.R., B.L.F.), David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles; Department of Genetics (A.K.-J., S.D.), University of Chicago, IL; and Department of Neurology (P.K.), UTSW Medical Center, Dallas, TX.



To identify the genetic cause of autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa in a large extended pedigree.


Clinical studies were done at 4 referral centers. Ten individuals in the same extended family participated in at least a portion of the study. Records were obtained from an 11th, deceased, individual. Neurologic and dermatological examinations were performed. Ophthalmologic evaluation including funduscopic examination and in some cases ocular coherence tomography were used to identify the presence of retinal disease. Whole exome sequencing (WES), in conjunction with Sanger sequencing and segregation analysis, was used to identify potential genetic mutation.


Affected individuals reported slowly progressive cerebellar ataxia with age at onset between 38 and 57. Imaging demonstrated cerebellar atrophy (3/3). WES identified a novel heterozygous mutation in the elongation of very long chain fatty acids 4 (ELOVL4) gene (c.512T>C, p.Ile171Thr) that segregated with ataxia in 7 members tested. Four of 8 members who underwent ophthalmologic evaluation were found to have retinitis pigmentosa. No skin findings were identified or reported. Ocular movement abnormalities and pyramidal tract signs were also present with incomplete penetrance.


We report a family with both spinocerebellar ataxia and retinal dystrophy associated with an ELOVL4 mutation. In addition, to supporting prior reports that ELOVL4 mutations can cause spinocerebellar ataxia, our findings further broaden the spectrum of clinical presentations associated with spinocerebellar ataxia 34.

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