Myoclonus-dystonia is a clinical syndrome characterized by a typical childhood onset of myoclonic jerks and dystonia involving the neck, trunk, and upper limbs. Psychiatric symptomatology, namely, alcohol dependence and phobic and obsessive-compulsive disorder, is also part of the clinical picture. Zonisamide has demonstrated effectiveness at reducing both myoclonus and dystonia, and deep brain stimulation seems to be an effective and long-lasting therapeutic option for medication-refractory cases. In a subset of patients, myoclonus-dystonia is associated with pathogenic variants in the epsilon-sarcoglycan gene, located on chromosome 7q21, and up to now, more than 100 different pathogenic variants of the epsilon-sarcoglycan gene have been described. In a few families with a clinical phenotype resembling myoclonus-dystonia associated with distinct clinical features, variants have been identified in genes involved in novel pathways such as calcium channel regulation and neurodevelopment. Because of phenotypic similarities with epsilon-sarcoglycan gene–related myoclonus-dystonia, these conditions can be collectively classified as “myoclonus-dystonia syndromes.” In the present article, we present myoclonus-dystonia caused by epsilon-sarcoglycan gene mutations, with a focus on genetics and underlying disease mechanisms. Second, we review those conditions falling within the spectrum of myoclonus-dystonia syndromes, highlighting their genetic background and involved pathways. Finally, we critically discuss the normal and pathological function of the epsilon-sarcoglycan gene and its product, suggesting a role in the stabilization of the dopaminergic membrane via regulation of calcium homeostasis and in the neurodevelopmental process involving the cerebello-thalamo-pallido-cortical network.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology