Spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6) is a devastating midlife-onset autosomal dominant motor control disease with no known treatment. Using a hyper-expanded polyglutamine (84Q) knock-in mouse, we found that cerebellar Purkinje cell firing precision was degraded in heterozygous (SCA6 84Q/+) mice at 19 months when motor deficits are observed. Similar alterations in firing precision and motor control were observed at disease onset at 7 months in homozygous (SCA6 84Q/84Q) mice, as well as a reduction in firing rate. We further found that chronic administration of the FDA-approved drug 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), which targets potassium channels, alleviated motor coordination deficits and restored cerebellar Purkinje cell firing precision to wildtype (WT) levels in SCA6 84Q/84Q mice both in acute slices and in vivo. These results provide a novel therapeutic approach for treating ataxic symptoms associated with SCA6.
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