• hereditary spastic paraplegia;
  • phenotype-genotype correlations;
  • SPG4;
  • SPG5;
  • SPG11;
  • SPG15

Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSP) constitute a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by slowly progressive spasticity of the lower extremities. We performed the first clinical, epidemiological and genetic study of HSP in Southern Tunisia. We investigated 88 patients belonging to 38 unrelated Tunisian HSP families. We could establish the minimal prevalence of HSP in the district of Sfax at 5.75/100,000. Thirty-one percent of the families had a pure HSP, whereas 69% had a complicated form. The mode of inheritance was almost exclusively compatible with an autosomal recessive trait (97%, 37/38). Taking into account previously published results and new data generated in this work, genetic studies revealed significant or putative linkage to known HSP loci in 13 families (34.2%) to either SPG11 (7/38, 18.4%), SPG15 (4/38, 10.5%) or to SPG4 and SPG5 in one family each. The linkage results could be validated through the identification of two recurrent truncating mutations (R2034X and M245VfsX246) in the SPG11 gene, three different mutations (Q493X, F683LfsX685 and the novel S2004T/r.?) in the SPG15 gene, the recurrent R499C mutation in the SPG4 gene as well as the new R112X mutation in the SPG5 gene. SPG11 and SPG15 are the major responsible HSP genes in Tunisia.