Cerebellar ataxia with neuropathy and bilateral vestibular areflexia syndrome (CANVAS) is a recently recognized neurodegenerative disease with onset in mid- to late adulthood. The genetic basis for a large proportion of Caucasian patients was recently shown to be the biallelic expansion of a pentanucleotide (AAGGG)n repeat in RFC1. Here, we describe the first instance of CANVAS genetic testing in New Zealand Māori and Cook Island Māori individuals. We show a novel, possibly population-specific CANVAS configuration (AAAGG)10-25(AAGGG)exp, which was the cause of CANVAS in all patients. There were no apparent phenotypic differences compared with European CANVAS patients. Presence of a common disease haplotype among this cohort suggests this novel repeat expansion configuration is a founder effect in this population, which may indicate that CANVAS will be especially prevalent in this group. Haplotype dating estimated the most recent common ancestor at ∼1430 ce. We also show the same core haplotype as previously described, supporting a single origin of the CANVAS mutation.
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