High-resolution molecular genomic autopsy reveals complex sudden unexpected death in epilepsy risk profile.
ABSTRACT: Advanced variant detection in genes underlying risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) can uncover extensive epistatic complexity and improve diagnostic accuracy of epilepsy-related mortality. However, the sensitivity and clinical utility of diagnostic panels based solely on established cardiac arrhythmia genes in the molecular autopsy of SUDEP is unknown. We applied the established clinical diagnostic panels, followed by sequencing and a high density copy number variant (CNV) detection array of an additional 253 related ion channel subunit genes to analyze the overall genomic variation in a SUDEP of the 3-year-old proband with severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy (SMEI). We uncovered complex combinations of single nucleotide polymorphisms and CNVs in genes expressed in both neurocardiac and respiratory control pathways, including SCN1A, KCNA1, RYR3, and HTR2C. Our findings demonstrate the importance of comprehensive high-resolution variant analysis in the assessment of personally relevant SUDEP risk. In this case, the combination of de novo single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and CNVs in the SCN1A and KCNA1 genes, respectively, is suspected to be the principal risk factor for both epilepsy and premature death. However, consideration of the overall biologically relevant variant complexity with its extensive functional epistatic interactions reveals potential personal risk more accurately.
Project description:People with epilepsy have greatly increased probability of premature mortality due to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Identifying which patients are most at risk of SUDEP is hindered by a complex genetic etiology, incomplete understanding of the underlying pathophysiology and lack of prognostic biomarkers. Here we evaluated heterozygous Scn2a gene deletion (Scn2a+/-) as a protective genetic modifier in the Kcna1 knockout mouse (Kcna1-/-) model of SUDEP, while searching for biomarkers of SUDEP risk embedded in electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG) recordings. The human epilepsy gene Kcna1 encodes voltage-gated Kv1.1 potassium channels that act to dampen neuronal excitability whereas Scn2a encodes voltage-gated Nav1.2 sodium channels important for action potential initiation and conduction. SUDEP-prone Kcna1-/- mice with partial genetic ablation of Nav1.2 channels (i.e. Scn2a+/-; Kcna1-/-) exhibited a two-fold increase in survival. Classical analysis of EEG and ECG recordings separately showed significantly decreased seizure durations in Scn2a+/-; Kcna1-/- mice compared with Kcna1-/- mice, without substantial modification of cardiac abnormalities. Novel analysis of the EEG and ECG together revealed a significant reduction in EEG-ECG association in Kcna1-/- mice compared with wild types, which was partially restored in Scn2a+/-; Kcna1-/- mice. The degree of EEG-ECG association was also proportional to the survival rate of mice across genotypes. These results show that Scn2a gene deletion acts as protective genetic modifier of SUDEP and suggest measures of brain-heart association as potential indices of SUDEP susceptibility.
Project description:Dravet syndrome (DS) is a form of epilepsy with a high incidence of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Respiratory failure is a leading cause of SUDEP, and DS patients' frequently exhibit disordered breathing. Despite this, mechanisms underlying respiratory dysfunction in DS are unknown. We found that mice expressing a DS-associated Scn1a missense mutation (A1783V) conditionally in inhibitory neurons (Slc32a1cre/+::Scn1aA1783V fl/+; defined as Scn1a?E26) exhibit spontaneous seizures, die prematurely and present a respiratory phenotype including hypoventilation, apnea, and a diminished ventilatory response to CO2. At the cellular level in the retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN), we found inhibitory neurons expressing the Scn1a A1783V variant are less excitable, whereas glutamatergic chemosensitive RTN neurons, which are a key source of the CO2/H+-dependent drive to breathe, are hyper-excitable in slices from Scn1a?E26 mice. These results show loss of Scn1a function can disrupt respiratory control at the cellular and whole animal levels.
Project description:Objective:Early onset drug-resistant epilepsy is a neurologic disorder in which 2 antiepileptic drugs fail to maintain the seizure-free status of the patient. Heterogeneous clinical presentations make the diagnosis challenging. We aim to identify the underlying genetic causes of a pediatric cohort with drug-resistant epilepsy and evaluate whether the findings can provide information on patient management. Methods:We include patients with drug-resistant epilepsy onset before 18 years of age. Singleton clinical chromosomal microarray (CMA) followed by whole exome sequencing (WES) was performed using genomic DNA. In the first-tier analysis of the exome data, we aimed to identify disease-causing mutations in 546 genes known to cause, or to be associated with, epilepsy. For negative cases, we proceeded to exome-wide analysis. Rare coding variants were interrogated for pathogenicity based on the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) guidelines. Results:We recruited 50 patients. We identified 6 pathogenic or likely pathogenic mutations, giving a diagnostic yield of 12%. Mutations were found in 6 different genes: SCN8A, SCN1A, MECP2, CDKL5, DEPDC5, and CHD2. The CDKL5 variant was found to be mosaic. One variant of unknown significance (VUS) in KCNT1 was found in a patient with compatible clinical features. Of note, a reported pathogenic SCN5A mutation known to contribute to Brugada syndrome, was also found in the patient with an SCN1A mutation. Significance:Our study suggests that singleton WES is an effective diagnostic tool for drug-resistant epilepsy. Genetic diagnosis can help to consolidate the clinical diagnosis, to facilitate phenotypic expansion, and to influence treatment and management options for seizure control in our patients. In our study, a significant portion of the genetic findings are known to be associated with an increased risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). These findings could assist with more appropriate management in patients with epilepsy.
Project description:Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the most common cause of death in intractable epilepsies, but physiological mechanisms that lead to SUDEP are unknown. Dravet syndrome (DS) is an infantile-onset intractable epilepsy caused by heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the SCN1A gene, which encodes brain type-I voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.1. We studied the mechanism of premature death in Scn1a heterozygous KO mice and conditional brain- and cardiac-specific KOs. Video monitoring demonstrated that SUDEP occurred immediately following generalized tonic-clonic seizures. A history of multiple seizures was a strong risk factor for SUDEP. Combined video-electroencephalography-electrocardiography revealed suppressed interictal resting heart-rate variability and episodes of ictal bradycardia associated with the tonic phases of generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Prolonged atropine-sensitive ictal bradycardia preceded SUDEP. Similar studies in conditional KO mice demonstrated that brain, but not cardiac, KO of Scn1a produced cardiac and SUDEP phenotypes similar to those found in DS mice. Atropine or N-methyl scopolamine treatment reduced the incidence of ictal bradycardia and SUDEP in DS mice. These findings suggest that SUDEP is caused by apparent parasympathetic hyperactivity immediately following tonic-clonic seizures in DS mice, which leads to lethal bradycardia and electrical dysfunction of the ventricle. These results have important implications for prevention of SUDEP in DS patients.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Antiseizure drugs are the leading therapeutic choice for treatment of epilepsy, but their efficacy is limited by pharmacoresistance and the occurrence of unwanted side effects. Here, we examined the therapeutic efficacy of KCNQ channel activation by retigabine in preventing seizures and neurocardiac dysfunction in 2 potassium channelopathy mouse models of epilepsy with differing severity that have been associated with increased risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP): the Kcna1-/- model of severe epilepsy and the Kcnq1A340E/A340E model of mild epilepsy. METHODS:A combination of behavioral, seizure threshold, electrophysiologic, and gene expression analyses was used to determine the effects of KCNQ activation in mice. RESULTS:Behaviorally, Kcna1-/- mice exhibited unexpected hyperexcitability instead of the expected sedative-like response. In flurothyl-induced seizure tests, KCNQ activation decreased seizure latency by ?50% in Kcnq1 strain mice but had no effect in the Kcna1 strain, suggesting the influence of genetic background. However, in simultaneous electroencephalography and electrocardiography recordings, KCNQ activation significantly reduced spontaneous seizure frequency in Kcna1-/- mice by ~60%. In Kcnq1A340E/A340E mice, KCNQ activation produced adverse cardiac effects including profound bradycardia and abnormal increases in heart rate variability and atrioventricular conduction blocks. Analyses of Kcnq2 and Kcnq3 mRNA levels revealed significantly elevated Kcnq2 expression in Kcna1-/- brains, suggesting that drug target alterations may contribute to the altered drug responses. SIGNIFICANCE:This study shows that treatment strategies in channelopathy may have unexpected outcomes and that effective rebalancing of channel defects requires improved understanding of channel interactions at the circuit and tissue levels. The efficacy of KCNQ channel activation and manifestation of adverse effects were greatly affected by genetic background, potentially limiting KCNQ modulation as a way to prevent neurocardiac dysfunction in epilepsy and thereby SUDEP risk. Our data also uncover a potential role for KCNQ2-5 channels in autonomic control of chronotropy.
Project description:Copy number variants (CNVs) have been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability (ID), autism, epilepsy and psychiatric disease. There are few studies of CNVs in patients with both ID and epilepsy.We evaluated the range of rare CNVs found in 80 Welsh patients with ID or developmental delay (DD), and childhood-onset epilepsy. We performed molecular cytogenetic testing by single nucleotide polymorphism array or microarray-based comparative genome hybridisation.8.8 % (7/80) of the patients had at least one rare CNVs that was considered to be pathogenic or likely pathogenic. The CNVs involved known disease genes (EHMT1, MBD5 and SCN1A) and imbalances in genomic regions associated with neurodevelopmental disorders (16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 2q13). Prompted by the observation of two deletions disrupting SCN1A we undertook further testing of this gene in selected patients. This led to the identification of four pathogenic SCN1A mutations in our cohort.We identified five rare de novo deletions and confirmed the clinical utility of array analysis in patients with ID/DD and childhood-onset epilepsy. This report adds to our clinical understanding of these rare genomic disorders and highlights SCN1A mutations as a cause of ID and epilepsy, which can easily be overlooked in adults.
Project description:Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy with a high incidence of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Most DS patients carry de novo variants in SCN1A, resulting in Nav1.1 haploinsufficiency. Because SCN1A is expressed in heart and in brain, we proposed that cardiac arrhythmia contributes to SUDEP in DS. We generated DS patient and control induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac myocytes (iPSC-CMs). We observed increased sodium current (INa) and spontaneous contraction rates in DS patient iPSC-CMs versus controls. For the subject with the largest increase in INa, cardiac abnormalities were revealed upon clinical evaluation. Generation of a CRISPR gene-edited heterozygous SCN1A deletion in control iPSCs increased INa density in iPSC-CMs similar to that seen in patient cells. Thus, the high risk of SUDEP in DS may result from a predisposition to cardiac arrhythmias in addition to seizures, reflecting expression of SCN1A in heart and brain.
Project description:Dravet syndrome (DS) is a catastrophic developmental and epileptic encephalopathy characterized by severe, pharmacoresistant seizures and the highest risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) of all epilepsy syndromes. Here, we investigated the time course of maturation of neuronal GABAergic signaling in the Scn1b-/- and Scn1a+/- mouse models of DS. We found that GABAergic signaling remains immature in both DS models, with a depolarized reversal potential for GABAA-evoked currents compared to wildtype in the third postnatal week. Treatment of Scn1b-/- mice with bumetanide resulted in a delay in SUDEP onset compared to controls in a subset of mice, without prevention of seizure activity or amelioration of failure to thrive. We propose that delayed maturation of GABAergic signaling may contribute to epileptogenesis in SCN1B- and SCN1A-linked DS. Thus, targeting the polarity of GABAergic signaling in brain may be an effective therapeutic strategy to reduce SUDEP risk in DS.
Project description:A substantial number of mutations have been identified in voltage-gated sodium channel genes that result in various forms of human epilepsy. SCN1A mutations result in a spectrum of severity ranging from mild febrile seizures to Dravet syndrome, an infant-onset epileptic encephalopathy. Dravet syndrome patients experience multiple seizures types that are often refractory to treatment, developmental delays, and elevated risk for SUDEP. The same sodium channel mutation can produce epilepsy phenotypes of varying clinical severity. This suggests that other factors, including genetic, modify the primary mutation and change disease severity. Mouse models provide a useful tool in studying the genetic basis of epilepsy. The mouse strain background can alter phenotype severity, supporting a contribution of genetic modifiers in epilepsy. The Scn1a+/- mouse model has a strain-dependent epilepsy phenotype. Scn1a+/- mice on the 129S6/SvEvTac (129) strain have a normal phenotype and lifespan, while [129xC57BL/6J]F1-Scn1a+/- mice experience spontaneous seizures, hyperthermia-induced seizures and high rates of premature death. We hypothesize the phenotypic differences are due to strain-specific genetic modifiers that influence expressivity of the Scn1a+/- phenotype. Low resolution mapping of Scn1a+/- identified several Dravet syndrome modifier (Dsm) loci responsible for the strain-dependent difference in survival. One locus of interest, Dsm1 located on chromosome 5, was fine mapped to a 9 Mb region using interval specific congenics. RNA-Seq was then utilized to identify candidate modifier genes within this narrowed region. Three genes with significant total gene expression differences between 129S6/SvEvTac and [129xC57BL/6J]F1 were identified, including the GABAA receptor subunit, Gabra2. Further analysis of Gabra2 demonstrated allele-specific expression. Pharmological manipulation by clobazam, a common anticonvulsant with preferential affinity for the GABRA2 receptor, revealed dose-dependent protection against hyperthermia-induced seizures in Scn1a+/- mice. These findings support Gabra2 as a genetic modifier of the Scn1a+/- mouse model of Dravet syndrome.
Project description:PurposeMosaicism probably represents an underreported cause of genetic disorders due to detection challenges during routine molecular diagnostics. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the frequency of mosaicism detected by next-generation sequencing in genes associated with epilepsy-related neurodevelopmental disorders.MethodsWe conducted a retrospective analysis of 893 probands with epilepsy who had a multigene epilepsy panel or whole-exome sequencing performed in a clinical diagnostic laboratory and were positive for a pathogenic or likely pathogenic variant in one of nine genes (CDKL5, GABRA1, GABRG2, GRIN2B, KCNQ2, MECP2, PCDH19, SCN1A, or SCN2A). Parental results were available for 395 of these probands.ResultsMosaicism was most common in the CDKL5, PCDH19, SCN2A, and SCN1A genes. Mosaicism was observed in GABRA1, GABRG2, and GRIN2B, which previously have not been reported to have mosaicism, and also in KCNQ2 and MECP2. Parental mosaicism was observed for pathogenic variants in multiple genes including KCNQ2, MECP2, SCN1A, and SCN2A.ConclusionMosaic pathogenic variants were identified frequently in nine genes associated with various neurological conditions. Given the potential clinical ramifications, our findings suggest that next-generation sequencing diagnostic methods may be utilized when testing these genes in a diagnostic laboratory.