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Reviewed August 2012

What is the official name of the SETX gene?

The official name of this gene is “senataxin.”

SETX is the gene's official symbol. The SETX gene is also known by other names, listed below.

Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.

What is the normal function of the SETX gene?

The SETX gene provides instructions for making a protein called senataxin. Senataxin is produced in a wide range of tissues, including the brain, spinal cord, and muscles. Based on the structure of senataxin, researchers believe that it is one of a class of proteins called helicases that are involved in DNA repair and the production of RNA, a chemical cousin of DNA. Helicases attach to particular regions of DNA and temporarily unwind the two spiral strands of a DNA molecule. By unwinding the strands near sites of DNA damage, helicases allow other proteins to reach damaged areas and fix them. Senataxin is thought to aid in DNA repair through this helicase mechanism. This mechanism may also be involved in using the instructions encoded by RNA to create different versions of certain proteins (RNA processing).

How are changes in the SETX gene related to health conditions?

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - caused by mutations in the SETX gene

Researchers have identified three SETX gene mutations that cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition characterized by progressive movement problems and muscle wasting. Mutations in the SETX gene cause the juvenile form of ALS, which usually develops in a person's teens or twenties. These mutations change single protein building blocks (amino acids) in the senataxin protein. This type of mutation may alter the 3-dimensional shape of senataxin and disrupt its normal function. It is unclear how mutations in the SETX gene cause juvenile ALS.

ataxia with oculomotor apraxia - caused by mutations in the SETX gene

At least 30 mutations in the SETX gene have been found to cause ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 2, a disorder whose key features include difficulty coordinating movements (ataxia) and trouble moving one's eyes to look side-to-side (oculomotor apraxia). Most of the mutations replace one of the amino acids used to make senataxin. A few mutations in the SETX gene lead to an abnormally short, nonfunctional version of the protein. The mutations associated with ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 2 are thought to disrupt the helicase function of senataxin. A lack of functional senataxin can lead to an accumulation of DNA damage in cells, which particularly affects brain cells in the part of the brain involved in coordinating movements (the cerebellum). This accumulation can lead to cell death in the cerebellum, causing the characteristic movement problems of ataxia with oculomotor apraxia type 2.

Where is the SETX gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 9q34.13

Molecular Location on chromosome 9: base pairs 132,261,439 to 132,356,725

The SETX gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 9 at position 34.13.

The SETX gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 9 at position 34.13.

More precisely, the SETX gene is located from base pair 132,261,439 to base pair 132,356,725 on chromosome 9.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about SETX?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about SETX helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the SETX gene or gene products?

  • ALS4
  • AOA2
  • KIAA0625
  • SCAR1

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding SETX?

acids ; apraxia ; ataxia ; cell ; cerebellum ; class ; DNA ; DNA damage ; DNA repair ; gene ; helicase ; juvenile ; molecule ; mutation ; protein ; RNA ; sclerosis ; wasting

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (11 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: August 2012
Published: April 20, 2015