Genetic anticipation - increasing severity and a decrease in the age of onset with successive generations of a pedigree - is clearly present in autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia (ADCA). Anticipation is correlated with expansion of the CAG/CTG repeat sequence to sizes above those in the normal range through the generations of a pedigree. Genetic heterogeneity has been demonstrated for ADCA, with four cloned genes (SCA1, SCA2, SCA3/MJD, and SCA6) and three mapped loci (SCA4, SCA5 and SCA7). Another related dominant ataxia, dentatorubralpallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA), presents anticipation with CAG/CTG repeat expansions. We had previously analysed ADCA patients who had not shown repeat expansions in cloned genes for CAG/CTG repeat expansions by the repeat expansion detection method (RED) and had detected expansions of between 48 and 88 units in 17 unrelated familial cases. We present here an analysis of 13 genes and expressed sequence tags (ESTs) containing 10 or more CAG/CTG repeat sequences selected from public databases in the 17 unrelated ADCA patients. Of the 13 selected genes and ESTs, 9 were found to be polymorphic with heterozygosities ranging between 0.09 and 0.80 and 2 to 17 alleles. In ADCA patients none of the loci showed expansions above the normal range of the CAG/CTG repeat sequences, excluding them as the mutation causing ADCA.
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