Spastic Ataxia 4, mtPAP Deficiency

Clinical Characteristics
Ocular Features: 

Ocular examinations in 4 adult individuals of a single family aged 18 to 27 years were reported to have optic atrophy.  One of these had a horizontal nystagmus and another was described as having a vertical nystagmus.  No ocular evaluations were available for 2 children, aged 2 and 6 years.  Visual acuity testing was not reported but all individuals participated appropriately in family and educational activities. 

Systemic Features: 

This is a congenital disorder with cerebral ataxia (limb and truncal), spastic paraparesis (increased lower limb tone with brisk knee jerks and extensor plantar responses), cerebellar and spastic dysarthria, learning difficulties and emotional lability as prominent features.  The onset of both speech and mobility are delayed.  Older individuals have slow and spastic tongue movements with brisk jaw jerks, and increased tone in the upper limbs.  Motor function progressively declines although even older individuals in the third decade of life remain mobile albeit with an increasingly spastic and ataxic gait, and require only minimal assistance with self-care.  Children in grade school require special education accommodations but there is no obvious deterioration in intellectual function as they mature.


This is an autosomal recessive disorder resulting from homozygous mutations in the MTPAP gene (10p11.22).  The mutation leads to a defect of mitochondrial mRNA maturation in which the poly(A) tails are severely truncated.

Optic atrophy is also present in some patients who have autosomal dominant spastic ataxia with miosis (SPAX7) (108650) and in another form of autosomal recessive childhood-onset spastic ataxia and mental retardation (270500).

Autosomal recessive
Treatment Options: 

No treatment is known but special education and physical and speech therapy may be helpful.

Article Title: 

Defective mitochondrial mRNA maturation is associated with spastic ataxia

Crosby AH, Patel H, Chioza BA, Proukakis C, Gurtz K, Patton MA, Sharifi R, Harlalka G, Simpson MA, Dick K, Reed JA, Al-Memar A, Chrzanowska-Lightowlers ZM, Cross HE, Lightowlers RN. Defective mitochondrial mRNA maturation is associated with spastic ataxia. Am J Hum Genet. 2010 Nov 12;87(5):655-60.

PubMed ID: 
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