Polyglutamine ataxias: Our current molecular understanding and what the future holds for antisense therapies

Craig S. McIntosh, Dunhui Li, Steve D. Wilton, May T. Aung-Htut

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Polyglutamine (polyQ) ataxias are a heterogenous group of neurological disorders all caused by an expanded CAG trinucleotide repeat located in the coding region of each unique causative gene. To date, polyQ ataxias encompass six disorders: spinocerebellar ataxia types 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 17 and account for a larger group of disorders simply known as polyglutamine disorders, which also includes Huntington’s disease. These diseases are typically characterised by progressive ataxia, speech and swallowing difficulties, lack of coordination and gait, and are unfortunately fatal in nature, with the exception of SCA6. All the polyQ spinocerebellar ataxias have a hallmark feature of neuronal aggregations and share many common pathogenic mechanisms, such as mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired proteasomal function, and autophagy impairment. Currently, therapeutic options are limited, with no available treatments that slow or halt disease progression. Here, we discuss the common molecular and clinical presentations of polyQ spinocerebellar ataxias. We will also discuss the promising antisense oligonucleotide therapeutics being developed as treatments for these devastating diseases. With recent advancements and therapeutic approvals of various antisense therapies, it is envisioned that some of the studies reviewed may progress into clinical trials and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1499
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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