Background and purpose: We recently reported a novel -62 G/A polymorphism within ataxin 8 (ATXN8) gene promoter region, with -62 G displaying significantly higher luciferase activity compared with -62 A. Phenotypic variability in spinocerebellar ataxia type 8 (SCA8) has been suggested, and large SCA8 repeats were found in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). We aimed to investigate the association of ATXN8 -62 G/A polymorphism with the risk of Taiwanese PD, and identify the trans-acting factor modulating the ATXN8 promoter activity. Methods: A case-control study in a cohort of 569 PD cases and 547 ethnically matched controls was conducted by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and restriction enzyme analysis. The trans-acting factor binding to the ATXN8 promoter was examined by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-PCR assay, cDNA co-transfection and luciferase reporter assay. Results: When genotype distribution was calculated by comparing the rare AA genotype with the GG + GA genotypes (recessive model), a significant difference was found (P = 0.035, 1 df). Individuals carrying AA genotype exhibited a decreased risk of developing PD (odds ratio: 0.73; 95% CI: 0.55-0.98, P = 0.035). After stratification by age, individuals over 60 years of age carrying AA genotype demonstrated a further decrease in the risk of developing PD (odds ratio: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.43-0.96, P = 0.030). ChIP-PCR and cDNA over-expression revealed that CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha binds to the ATXN8 proximal promoter to upregulate ATXN8 expression in neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells. Conclusions: Our data suggest that ATXN8 -62 G/A polymorphism plays a role in Taiwanese PD susceptibility.
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