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Autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia type 1

(often shortened to ARCA1)
Reviewed January 2015

What is ARCA1?

Autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia type 1 (ARCA1) is a condition characterized by progressive problems with movement due to a loss (atrophy) of nerve cells in the part of the brain that coordinates movement (the cerebellum). Signs and symptoms of the disorder first appear in early to mid-adulthood. People with this condition initially experience impaired speech (dysarthria), problems with coordination and balance (ataxia), or both. They may also have difficulty with movements that involve judging distance or scale (dysmetria). Other features of ARCA1 include abnormal eye movements (nystagmus) and problems following the movements of objects with the eyes. The movement problems are slowly progressive, often resulting in the need for a cane, walker, or wheelchair.

How common is ARCA1?

More than 100 people have been diagnosed with ARCA1. This condition was first discovered in individuals from the Beauce and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions of Quebec, Canada, but it has since been found in populations worldwide.

What genes are related to ARCA1?

Mutations in the SYNE1 gene cause ARCA1. The SYNE1 gene provides instructions for making a protein called Syne-1 that is found in many tissues, but it seems to be especially critical in the brain. Within the brain, the Syne-1 protein appears to play a role in the maintenance of the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that coordinates movement. The Syne-1 protein is active (expressed) in Purkinje cells, which are located in the cerebellum and are involved in chemical signaling between nerve cells (neurons).

SYNE1 gene mutations that cause ARCA1 result in an abnormally short, dysfunctional version of the Syne-1 protein. The defective protein is thought to impair Purkinje cell function and disrupt signaling between neurons in the cerebellum. The loss of brain cells in the cerebellum causes the movement problems characteristic of ARCA1, but it is unclear how this cell loss is related to impaired Purkinje cell function.

Read more about the SYNE1 gene.

How do people inherit ARCA1?

This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.

Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of ARCA1?

These resources address the diagnosis or management of ARCA1 and may include treatment providers.

You might also find information on the diagnosis or management of ARCA1 in Educational resources and Patient support.

General information about the diagnosis and management of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests.

To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about ARCA1?

You may find the following resources about ARCA1 helpful. These materials are written for the general public.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for ARCA1?

  • autosomal recessive spinocerebellar ataxia 8
  • recessive ataxia of Beauce

For more information about naming genetic conditions, see the Genetics Home Reference Condition Naming Guidelines and How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.

What if I still have specific questions about ARCA1?

Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?

What glossary definitions help with understanding ARCA1?

ataxia ; atrophy ; autosomal ; autosomal recessive ; cell ; cerebellum ; dysarthria ; dysmetria ; expressed ; gene ; inherited ; nystagmus ; protein ; Purkinje cells ; recessive

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (5 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: January 2015
Published: February 8, 2016