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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.

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Jen Farmer

Jen Farmer

Executive Director

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