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FARAFARA Cure FA

 

Scientific News

FARA funds research progress

In this section, you will find the most recent FA research publications, many of which are funded by FARA, as well as information on upcoming conferences and symposiums. You can search for articles by date using the archive box in the right hand column. To locate FARA Funded or Supported Research, click the hyperlink in the right hand column. You may also search for specific content using key words or phrases in the search button at the top right of your screen. Please be sure to visit other key research sections of our website for information on FARA’s Grant Program and the Treatment Pipeline.

 


 

Brain white matter tracts degeneration in Friedreich ataxia

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Neuropathological examination in Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) reveals neuronal loss in the gray matter (GM) nuclei and degeneration of the white matter (WM) tracts in the spinal cord, brainstem and cerebellum, while the cerebral hemispheres are substantially spared. Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) enables an unbiased whole-brain quantitative analysis of the fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) of the brain WM tracts in vivo.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:
We assessed with TBSS 14 patients with genetically confirmed FRDA and 14 age- and sex-matched healthy controls who were also examined with voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to assess regional atrophy of the GM and WM.

Read More: Brain white matter tracts degeneration in Friedreich ataxia

The Friedreich ataxia GAA repeat expansion mutation induces comparable epigenetic changes in human and transgenic mouse brain and heart tissues

Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is caused by a homozygous GAA repeat expansion mutation within intron 1 of the FXN gene, leading to reduced expression of frataxin protein. Evidence suggests that the mutation may induce epigenetic changes and heterochromatin formation, thereby impeding gene transcription. In particular, studies using FRDA patient blood and lymphoblastoid cell lines have detected increased DNA methylation of specific CpG sites upstream of the GAA repeat and histone modifications in regions flanking the GAA repeat. In this report we show that such epigenetic changes are also present in FRDA patient brain, cerebellum and heart tissues, the primary affected systems of the disorder. Bisulfite sequence analysis of the FXN flanking GAA regions reveals a shift in the FRDA DNA methylation profile, with upstream CpG sites becoming consistently hypermethylated and downstream CpG sites becoming consistently hypomethylated.

Read More: The Friedreich ataxia GAA repeat expansion mutation induces comparable epigenetic changes ...

The effects of frataxin silencing in HeLa cells are rescued by the expression of human mitochondrial ferritin

Frataxin is a ubiquitous mitochondrial iron-binding protein involved in the biosynthesis of Fe/S clusters and heme. Its deficiency causes Friedreich's ataxia, a severe neurodegenerative disease. Mitochondrial ferritin is another major iron-binding protein, abundant in the testis and in sideroblasts from patients with sideroblastic anemia. We previously showed that its expression rescued the defects caused by frataxin deficiency in the yeast. To verify if this occurs also in mammals, we silenced frataxin in HeLa cells.

Read More: The effects of frataxin silencing in HeLa cells are rescued by the expression of human mitochondrial ferritin

Repair of DNA double-strand breaks within the (GAA•TTC)n sequence results in frequent deletion of the triplet-repeat sequence

Friedreich ataxia is caused by an expanded (GAA*TTC)n sequence, which is unstable during intergenerational transmission and in most patient tissues, where it frequently undergoes large deletions. We investigated the effect of DSB repair on instability of the (GAA*TTC)n sequence. Linear plasmids were transformed into Escherichia coli so that each colony represented an individual DSB repair event. Repair of a DSB within the repeat resulted in a dramatic increase in deletions compared with circular templates, but DSB repair outside the repeat tract did not affect instability. Repair-mediated deletions were independent of the orientation and length of the repeat, the location of the break within the repeat or the RecA status of the strain. Repair at the center of the repeat resulted in deletion of approximately half of the repeat tract, and repair at an off-center location produced deletions that were equivalent in length to the shorter of the two repeats flanking the DSB.

Read More: Repair of DNA double-strand breaks...

Phosphorus-31 two-dimensional chemical shift imaging in the myocardium of patients with late onset of Friedreich ataxia

PURPOSE:
Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is characterized by GAA expansions in the intron 1 of the frataxin gene correlating with disease onset and progression as well as cardiac affection. Accordingly, FRDA patients with early disease onset show a clear impairment of mitochondrial function in the myocardium. The purpose of this study was to investigate cardiac function and high-energy phosphate metabolism in FRDA patients with late disease onset.

PROCEDURES:
Using a 1.5 T magnetic resonance scanner, cardiac phosphorus-31 two-dimensional chemical shift imaging was performed in ten patients (seven male, three female) with a late onset of FRDA and in 35 healthy, male controls. Ejection faction (EF) and interventricular septum thickness (IST) were determined by echocardiography.

Read More: Phosphorus-31 two-dimensional chemical shift imaging in the myocardium of patients with late onset of Friedreich ataxia

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