Intermediate repeat expansions of TBP and STUB1: Genetic modifier or pure digenic inheritance in spinocerebellar ataxias?

Published:November 23, 2022DOI:



      CAG/CAA repeat expansions in TBP>49 are responsible for spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) type 17 (SCA17). We previously detected cosegregation of STUB1 variants causing SCA48 with intermediate alleles of TBP in 2 families. This cosegregation questions the existence of SCA48 as a monogenic disease.


      We systematically sequenced TBP repeats in 34 probands of dominant ataxia families with STUB1 variants. In addition, we searched for pathogenic STUB1 variants in probands with expanded alleles of TBP>49 (n = 2) or intermediate alleles of TBP≥40 (n = 47).


      STUB1 variants were found in half of the TBP40-49 cohort. Mirroring this finding, TBP40-49 alleles were detected in 40% of STUB1 probands. The longer the TBP repeat length, the more likely the occurrence of cognitive impairment (P = .0129) and the faster the disease progression until death (P = .0003). Importantly, 13 STUB1 probands presenting with the full SCA48 clinical phenotype had normal TBP37-39 alleles, excluding digenic inheritance as the sole mode.


      We show that intermediate TBP40-49 alleles act as disease modifiers of SCA48 rather than a STUB1/TBP digenic model. This distinction from what has been proposed before has crucial consequences for genetic counseling in SCA48.


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