The SGCE gene provides instructions for making a protein called epsilon (ε)-sarcoglycan, whose function is unknown. The ε-sarcoglycan protein is found within the outer membrane of cells in tissues throughout the body, but it is most abundant in nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and in muscle cells. Researchers suspect that in the brain the ε-sarcoglycan protein plays a role in the functioning of synapses, which are the connections between neurons where cell-to-cell communication occurs.
People inherit one copy of most genes from their mother (the maternal copy) and one copy from their father (the paternal copy). Both copies are typically active, or "turned on," in cells. However, only the paternal copy of the SGCE gene is active. This sort of parent-specific difference in gene activation is caused by a phenomenon called genomic imprinting.
Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes
More than 110 mutations in the SGCE gene have been found to cause myoclonus-dystonia, which is a movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle twitches in the neck, torso, and arms (myoclonus). Most of these mutations lead to an abnormally short, nonfunctional ε-sarcoglycan protein that is quickly broken down. Other mutations prevent the protein from reaching the cell membrane where it is needed. This lack of functional protein seems to affect the regions of the brain involved in coordinating and controlling movements (the cerebellum and basal ganglia, respectively) and leads to the involuntary movements characteristic of myoclonus-dystonia. It is unknown why SGCE gene mutations seem to affect only these areas of the brain.
Myoclonus-dystonia occurs when mutations affect the paternal copy of the SGCE gene. More than 95 percent of individuals who inherit an SGCE gene mutation from their mothers do not show signs or symptoms of the condition. Rarely, individuals who inherit an SGCE gene mutation from their mothers will develop features of myoclonus-dystonia. It is unclear why a gene that is supposed to be turned off is active in these rare cases.More About This Health Condition
Other Names for This Gene
- sarcoglycan, epsilon
Additional Information & Resources
Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry
Scientific Articles on PubMed
Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM
- Esapa CT, Waite A, Locke M, Benson MA, Kraus M, McIlhinney RA, Sillitoe RV, Beesley PW, Blake DJ. SGCE missense mutations that cause myoclonus-dystonia syndrome impair epsilon-sarcoglycan trafficking to the plasma membrane: modulation by ubiquitination and torsinA. Hum Mol Genet. 2007 Feb 1;16(3):327-42. Epub 2007 Jan 2. Citation on PubMed
- Grabowski M, Zimprich A, Lorenz-Depiereux B, Kalscheuer V, Asmus F, Gasser T, Meitinger T, Strom TM. The epsilon-sarcoglycan gene (SGCE), mutated in myoclonus-dystonia syndrome, is maternally imprinted. Eur J Hum Genet. 2003 Feb;11(2):138-44. Citation on PubMed
- Nardocci N, Zorzi G, Barzaghi C, Zibordi F, Ciano C, Ghezzi D, Garavaglia B. Myoclonus-dystonia syndrome: clinical presentation, disease course, and genetic features in 11 families. Mov Disord. 2008 Jan;23(1):28-34. Citation on PubMed
- Peall KJ, Kurian MA, Wardle M, Waite AJ, Hedderly T, Lin JP, Smith M, Whone A, Pall H, White C, Lux A, Jardine PE, Lynch B, Kirov G, O'Riordan S, Samuel M, Lynch T, King MD, Chinnery PF, Warner TT, Blake DJ, Owen MJ, Morris HR. SGCE and myoclonus dystonia: motor characteristics, diagnostic criteria and clinical predictors of genotype. J Neurol. 2014 Dec;261(12):2296-304. doi: 10.1007/s00415-014-7488-3. Epub 2014 Sep 11. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central