Purpose of review
Our understanding of X-Linked Dystonia-Parkinsonism (XDP) has advanced considerably in recent years because of a wealth of new data describing its genetic basis, cellular phenotypes, neuroimaging features, and response to deep brain stimulation (DBS). This review provides a concise summary of these studies.
XDP is associated with a SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA)-type retrotransposon insertion within the TAF1 gene. This element includes a hexameric DNA repeat expansion, (CCCTCT)n, the length of which varies among patients and is inversely correlated to age of disease onset. In cell models, the SVA alters TAF1 splicing and reduces levels of full-length transcript. Neuroimaging data have confirmed previous neuropathology studies that XDP involves a progressive striatal atrophy, while further detecting functional alterations in additional brain regions. In patients exhibiting features of both dystonia and parkinsonism, pallidal DBS has resulted in rapid improvement of hyperkinetic movements, but effects on hypokinetic features have been inconsistent.
The discovery that XDP is linked to a polymorphic hexameric sequence suggests that it could share mechanisms with other DNA repeat disorders, whereas the transcriptional defect in cell models raises the possibility that strategies to correct TAF1 splicing could provide therapeutic benefit.