Neuropathology and Cellular Pathogenesis of Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 12

Elizabeth E. O'Hearn, Hyon S. Hwang, Susan E. Holmes, Dobrila D. Rudnicki, Daniel W. Chung, Ana I. Seixas, Rachael L. Cohen, Christopher A. Ross, John Q. Trojanowski, Olga Pletnikova, Juan C. Troncoso, Russell L. Margolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: SCA12 is a progressive autosomal-dominant disorder, caused by a CAG/CTG repeat expansion in PPP2R2B on chromosome 5q32, and characterized by tremor, gait ataxia, hyperreflexia, dysmetria, abnormal eye movements, anxiety, depression, and sometimes cognitive impairment. Neuroimaging has demonstrated cerebellar and cortical atrophy. We now present the neuropathology of the first autopsied SCA12 brain and utilize cell models to characterize potential mechanisms of SCA12 neurodegeneration. Methods: A fixed SCA12 brain was examined using gross, microscopic, and immunohistochemical methods. The effect of the repeat expansion on PPP2R2B Bβ1 expression was examined in multiple cell types by transient transfection of constructs containing the PPP2R2B Bβ1 promoter region attached to a luciferase reporter. The neurotoxic effect of PPP2R2B overexpression was examined in transfected rat primary neurons. Results: Neuropathological investigation revealed enlarged ventricles, marked cerebral cortical atrophy and Purkinje cell loss, less-prominent cerebellar and pontine atrophy, and neuronal intranuclear ubiquitin-positive inclusions, consistent with Marinesco bodies, which did not stain for long polyglutamine tracts, alpha-synuclein, tau, or transactive response DNA-binding protein 43. Reporter assays demonstrated that the region of PPP2R2B containing the repeat functions as a promoter, and that promoter activity increases with longer repeat length and is dependent on cell type, repeat sequence, and sequence flanking the repeat. Overexpression of PPP2R2B in primary cortical neurons disrupted normal morphology. Conclusions: SCA12 involves extensive, but selective, neurodegeneration distinct from Alzheimer's disease, synucleinopathies, tauopathies, and glutamine expansion diseases. SCA12 neuropathology may arise from the neurotoxic effect of repeat-expansion–induced overexpression of PPP2R2B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1813-1824
Number of pages12
JournalMovement Disorders
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Purkinje
  • ataxia
  • neurodegeneration
  • promoter
  • spinocerebellar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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