Heme and Fe-S clusters regulate a plethora of essential biological processes ranging from cellular respiration and cell metabolism to the maintenance of genome integrity. Mutations in genes involved in heme metabolism and Fe-S cluster biogenesis cause different forms of ataxia, like posterior column ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa (PCARP), Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) and X-linked sideroblastic anemia with ataxia (XLSA/A). Despite great efforts in the elucidation of the molecular pathogenesis of these disorders several important questions still remain to be addressed. Starting with an overview of the biology of heme metabolism and Fe-S cluster biogenesis, the review discusses recent progress in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of PCARP, FRDA and XLSA/A, and highlights future line of research in the field. A better comprehension of the mechanisms leading to the degeneration of neural circuity responsible for balance and coordinated movement will be crucial for the therapeutic management of these patients.
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