Friedreich ataxia, the most prevalent inherited ataxia, is caused by an expanded GAA triplet-repeat sequence in intron 1 of the FXN gene. Repressive chromatin spreads from the expanded GAA triplet-repeat sequence to cause epigenetic silencing of the FXN promoter via altered nucleosomal positioning and reduced chromatin accessibility. Indeed, deficient transcriptional initiation is the predominant cause of transcriptional deficiency in Friedreich ataxia. Treatment with 109, a class I histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, resulted in increased level of FXN transcript both upstream and downstream of the expanded GAA triplet-repeat sequence, without any change in transcript stability, suggesting that it acts via improvement of transcriptional initiation.

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