Publications by authors named "Henrike O Heyne"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

KCNT1-related epilepsies and epileptic encephalopathies: phenotypic and mutational spectrum.

Brain 2021 Jun 11. Epub 2021 Jun 11.

Pediatric Neurology Department, Lyon University Hospital, 69500 Bron, France.

Variants in KCNT1, encoding a sodium-gated potassium channel (subfamily T member 1), have been associated with a spectrum of epilepsies and neurodevelopmental disorders. These range from familial autosomal dominant or sporadic sleep-related hypermotor epilepsy ((AD)SHE) to epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS) and include developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEE). This study aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the phenotypic and genotypic spectrum of KCNT1 mutation-related epileptic disorders in 248 individuals, including 66 unpreviously published and 182 published cases, the largest cohort reported so far. Four phenotypic groups emerged from our analysis: i) EIMFS (152 individuals, 33 previously unpublished); ii) DEE other than EIMFS (non-EIMFS DEE) (37 individuals, 17 unpublished); iii) (AD)SHE (53 patients, 14 unpublished); iv) other phenotypes (6 individuals, 2 unpublished). In our cohort of 66 new cases, the most common phenotypic features were: a) in EIMFS, heterogeneity of seizure types, including epileptic spasms, epilepsy improvement over time, no epilepsy-related deaths; b) in non-EIMFS DEE, possible onset with West syndrome, occurrence of atypical absences, possible evolution to DEE with SHE features; one case of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP); c) in (AD)SHE, we observed a high prevalence of drug-resistance, although seizure frequency improved with age in some individuals, appearance of cognitive regression after seizure onset in all patients, no reported severe psychiatric disorders, although behavioural/psychiatric comorbidities were reported in about 50% of the patients, SUDEP in one individual; d) other phenotypes in individuals with mutation of KCNT1 included temporal lobe epilepsy, and epilepsy with tonic-clonic seizures and cognitive regression. Genotypic analysis of the whole cohort of 248 individuals showed only missense mutations and one inframe deletion in KCNT1. Although the KCNT1 mutations in affected individuals were seen to be distributed among the different domains of the KCNT1 protein, genotype-phenotype considerations showed many of the (AD)SHE-associated mutations to be clustered around the RCK2 domain in the C-terminus, distal to the NADP domain. Mutations associated with EIMFS/non-EIMFS DEE did not show a particular pattern of distribution in the KCNT1 protein. Recurrent KCNT1 mutations were seen to be associated with both severe and less severe phenotypes. Our study further defines and broadens the phenotypic and genotypic spectrums of KCNT1-related epileptic conditions and emphasizes the increasingly important role of this gene in the pathogenesis of early onset DEEs as well as in focal epilepsies, namely (AD)SHE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab219DOI Listing
June 2021

Comprehensive characterization of amino acid positions in protein structures reveals molecular effect of missense variants.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 11 26;117(45):28201-28211. Epub 2020 Oct 26.

Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, 02142;

Interpretation of the colossal number of genetic variants identified from sequencing applications is one of the major bottlenecks in clinical genetics, with the inference of the effect of amino acid-substituting missense variations on protein structure and function being especially challenging. Here we characterize the three-dimensional (3D) amino acid positions affected in pathogenic and population variants from 1,330 disease-associated genes using over 14,000 experimentally solved human protein structures. By measuring the statistical burden of variations (i.e., point mutations) from all genes on 40 3D protein features, accounting for the structural, chemical, and functional context of the variations' positions, we identify features that are generally associated with pathogenic and population missense variants. We then perform the same amino acid-level analysis individually for 24 protein functional classes, which reveals unique characteristics of the positions of the altered amino acids: We observe up to 46% divergence of the class-specific features from the general characteristics obtained by the analysis on all genes, which is consistent with the structural diversity of essential regions across different protein classes. We demonstrate that the function-specific 3D features of the variants match the readouts of mutagenesis experiments for BRCA1 and PTEN, and positively correlate with an independent set of clinically interpreted pathogenic and benign missense variants. Finally, we make our results available through a web server to foster accessibility and downstream research. Our findings represent a crucial step toward translational genetics, from highlighting the impact of mutations on protein structure to rationalizing the variants' pathogenicity in terms of the perturbed molecular mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2002660117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7668189PMC
November 2020

Predicting functional effects of missense variants in voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels.

Sci Transl Med 2020 08;12(556)

Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Malfunctions of voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels (encoded by and family genes, respectively) have been associated with severe neurologic, psychiatric, cardiac, and other diseases. Altered channel activity is frequently grouped into gain or loss of ion channel function (GOF or LOF, respectively) that often corresponds not only to clinical disease manifestations but also to differences in drug response. Experimental studies of channel function are therefore important, but laborious and usually focus only on a few variants at a time. On the basis of known gene-disease mechanisms of 19 different diseases, we inferred LOF ( = 518) and GOF ( = 309) likely pathogenic variants from the disease phenotypes of variant carriers. By training a machine learning model on sequence- and structure-based features, we predicted LOF or GOF effects [area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (ROC) = 0.85] of likely pathogenic missense variants. Our LOF versus GOF prediction corresponded to molecular LOF versus GOF effects for 87 functionally tested variants in and (ROC = 0.73) and was validated in exome-wide data from 21,703 cases and 128,957 controls. We showed respective regional clustering of inferred LOF and GOF nucleotide variants across the alignment of the entire gene family, suggesting shared pathomechanisms in the family genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay6848DOI Listing
August 2020

MISCAST: MIssense variant to protein StruCture Analysis web SuiTe.

Nucleic Acids Res 2020 07;48(W1):W132-W139

Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.

Human genome sequencing efforts have greatly expanded, and a plethora of missense variants identified both in patients and in the general population is now publicly accessible. Interpretation of the molecular-level effect of missense variants, however, remains challenging and requires a particular investigation of amino acid substitutions in the context of protein structure and function. Answers to questions like 'Is a variant perturbing a site involved in key macromolecular interactions and/or cellular signaling?', or 'Is a variant changing an amino acid located at the protein core or part of a cluster of known pathogenic mutations in 3D?' are crucial. Motivated by these needs, we developed MISCAST (missense variant to protein structure analysis web suite; http://miscast.broadinstitute.org/). MISCAST is an interactive and user-friendly web server to visualize and analyze missense variants in protein sequence and structure space. Additionally, a comprehensive set of protein structural and functional features have been aggregated in MISCAST from multiple databases, and displayed on structures alongside the variants to provide users with the biological context of the variant location in an integrated platform. We further made the annotated data and protein structures readily downloadable from MISCAST to foster advanced offline analysis of missense variants by a wide biological community.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkaa361DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7319582PMC
July 2020

Identification of pathogenic variant enriched regions across genes and gene families.

Genome Res 2020 01 23;30(1):62-71. Epub 2019 Dec 23.

Cologne Center for Genomics, University of Cologne, Cologne, 50931 NRW, Germany.

Missense variant interpretation is challenging. Essential regions for protein function are conserved among gene-family members, and genetic variants within these regions are potentially more likely to confer risk to disease. Here, we generated 2871 gene-family protein sequence alignments involving 9990 genes and performed missense variant burden analyses to identify novel essential protein regions. We mapped 2,219,811 variants from the general population into these alignments and compared their distribution with 76,153 missense variants from patients. With this gene-family approach, we identified 465 regions enriched for patient variants spanning 41,463 amino acids in 1252 genes. As a comparison, by testing the same genes individually, we identified fewer patient variant enriched regions, involving only 2639 amino acids and 215 genes. Next, we selected de novo variants from 6753 patients with neurodevelopmental disorders and 1911 unaffected siblings and observed an 8.33-fold enrichment of patient variants in our identified regions (95% C.I. = 3.90-Inf, -value = 2.72 × 10). By using the complete ClinVar variant set, we found that missense variants inside the identified regions are 106-fold more likely to be classified as pathogenic in comparison to benign classification (OR = 106.15, 95% C.I = 70.66-Inf, -value < 2.2 × 10). All pathogenic variant enriched regions (PERs) identified are available online through "," a user-friendly online platform for interactive data mining, visualization, and download. In summary, our gene-family burden analysis approach identified novel PERs in protein sequences. This annotation can empower variant interpretation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gr.252601.119DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6961572PMC
January 2020

Paternal-age-related de novo mutations and risk for five disorders.

Nat Commun 2019 07 10;10(1):3043. Epub 2019 Jul 10.

Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, 02142, USA.

There are established associations between advanced paternal age and offspring risk for psychiatric and developmental disorders. These are commonly attributed to genetic mutations, especially de novo single nucleotide variants (dnSNVs), that accumulate with increasing paternal age. However, the actual magnitude of risk from such mutations in the male germline is unknown. Quantifying this risk would clarify the clinical significance of delayed paternity. Using parent-child trio whole-exome-sequencing data, we estimate the relationship between paternal-age-related dnSNVs and risk for five disorders: autism spectrum disorder (ASD), congenital heart disease, neurodevelopmental disorders with epilepsy, intellectual disability and schizophrenia (SCZ). Using Danish registry data, we investigate whether epidemiologic associations between each disorder and older fatherhood are consistent with the estimated role of dnSNVs. We find that paternal-age-related dnSNVs confer a small amount of risk for these disorders. For ASD and SCZ, epidemiologic associations with delayed paternity reflect factors that may not increase with age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11039-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6620346PMC
July 2019

Targeted gene sequencing in 6994 individuals with neurodevelopmental disorder with epilepsy.

Genet Med 2019 11 6;21(11):2496-2503. Epub 2019 May 6.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Leipzig Medical Center, Leipzig, Germany.

Purpose: We aimed to gain insight into frequencies of genetic variants in genes implicated in neurodevelopmental disorder with epilepsy (NDD+E) by investigating large cohorts of patients in a diagnostic setting.

Methods: We analyzed variants in NDD+E using epilepsy gene panel sequencing performed between 2013 and 2017 by two large diagnostic companies. We compared variant frequencies in 6994 panels with another 8588 recently published panels as well as exome-wide de novo variants in 1942 individuals with NDD+E and 10,937 controls.

Results: Genes with highest frequencies of ultrarare variants in NDD+E comprised SCN1A, KCNQ2, SCN2A, CDKL5, SCN8A, and STXBP1, concordant with the two other epilepsy cohorts we investigated. In only 46% of the analyzed 262 dominant and X-linked panel genes ultrarare variants in patients were reported. Among genes with contradictory evidence of association with epilepsy, CACNB4, CLCN2, EFHC1, GABRD, MAGI2, and SRPX2 showed equal frequencies in cases and controls.

Conclusion: We show that improvement of panel design increased diagnostic yield over time, but panels still display genes with low or no diagnostic yield. With our data, we hope to improve current diagnostic NDD+E panel design and provide a resource of ultrarare variants in individuals with NDD+E to the community.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-019-0531-0DOI Listing
November 2019

GRIN2A-related disorders: genotype and functional consequence predict phenotype.

Brain 2019 01;142(1):80-92

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Leipzig Hospitals and Clinics, Leipzig, Germany.

Alterations of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunit GluN2A, encoded by GRIN2A, have been associated with a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders with prominent speech-related features, and epilepsy. We performed a comprehensive assessment of phenotypes with a standardized questionnaire in 92 previously unreported individuals with GRIN2A-related disorders. Applying the criteria of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics to all published variants yielded 156 additional cases with pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants in GRIN2A, resulting in a total of 248 individuals. The phenotypic spectrum ranged from normal or near-normal development with mild epilepsy and speech delay/apraxia to severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy, often within the epilepsy-aphasia spectrum. We found that pathogenic missense variants in transmembrane and linker domains (misTMD+Linker) were associated with severe developmental phenotypes, whereas missense variants within amino terminal or ligand-binding domains (misATD+LBD) and null variants led to less severe developmental phenotypes, which we confirmed in a discovery (P = 10-6) as well as validation cohort (P = 0.0003). Other phenotypes such as MRI abnormalities and epilepsy types were also significantly different between the two groups. Notably, this was paralleled by electrophysiology data, where misTMD+Linker predominantly led to NMDAR gain-of-function, while misATD+LBD exclusively caused NMDAR loss-of-function. With respect to null variants, we show that Grin2a+/- cortical rat neurons also had reduced NMDAR function and there was no evidence of previously postulated compensatory overexpression of GluN2B. We demonstrate that null variants and misATD+LBD of GRIN2A do not only share the same clinical spectrum (i.e. milder phenotypes), but also result in similar electrophysiological consequences (loss-of-function) opposing those of misTMD+Linker (severe phenotypes; predominantly gain-of-function). This new pathomechanistic model may ultimately help in predicting phenotype severity as well as eligibility for potential precision medicine approaches in GRIN2A-related disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awy304DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6308310PMC
January 2019

De novo variants in neurodevelopmental disorders with epilepsy.

Nat Genet 2018 07 25;50(7):1048-1053. Epub 2018 Jun 25.

University of Leipzig Hospitals and Clinics, Leipzig, Germany.

Epilepsy is a frequent feature of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), but little is known about genetic differences between NDDs with and without epilepsy. We analyzed de novo variants (DNVs) in 6,753 parent-offspring trios ascertained to have different NDDs. In the subset of 1,942 individuals with NDDs with epilepsy, we identified 33 genes with a significant excess of DNVs, of which SNAP25 and GABRB2 had previously only limited evidence of disease association. Joint analysis of all individuals with NDDs also implicated CACNA1E as a novel disease-associated gene. Comparing NDDs with and without epilepsy, we found missense DNVs, DNVs in specific genes, age of recruitment, and severity of intellectual disability to be associated with epilepsy. We further demonstrate the extent to which our results affect current genetic testing as well as treatment, emphasizing the benefit of accurate genetic diagnosis in NDDs with epilepsy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0143-7DOI Listing
July 2018

Neolithic and medieval virus genomes reveal complex evolution of hepatitis B.

Elife 2018 05 10;7. Epub 2018 May 10.

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is one of the most widespread human pathogens known today, yet its origin and evolutionary history are still unclear and controversial. Here, we report the analysis of three ancient HBV genomes recovered from human skeletons found at three different archaeological sites in Germany. We reconstructed two Neolithic and one medieval HBV genome by assembly from shotgun DNA sequencing data. Additionally, we observed HBV-specific peptides using paleo-proteomics. Our results demonstrated that HBV has circulated in the European population for at least 7000 years. The Neolithic HBV genomes show a high genomic similarity to each other. In a phylogenetic network, they do not group with any human-associated HBV genome and are most closely related to those infecting African non-human primates. The ancient viruses appear to represent distinct lineages that have no close relatives today and possibly went extinct. Our results reveal the great potential of ancient DNA from human skeletons in order to study the long-time evolution of blood borne viruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.36666DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6008052PMC
May 2018

Delineating SPTAN1 associated phenotypes: from isolated epilepsy to encephalopathy with progressive brain atrophy.

Brain 2017 Sep;140(9):2322-2336

Pediatric Neurology, Neurogenetics and Neurobiology Unit and Laboratories, Neuroscience Department, A Meyer Children's Hospital, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.

De novo in-frame deletions and duplications in the SPTAN1 gene, encoding the non-erythrocyte αII spectrin, have been associated with severe West syndrome with hypomyelination and pontocerebellar atrophy. We aimed at comprehensively delineating the phenotypic spectrum associated with SPTAN1 mutations. Using different molecular genetic techniques, we identified 20 patients with a pathogenic or likely pathogenic SPTAN1 variant and reviewed their clinical, genetic and imaging data. SPTAN1 de novo alterations included seven unique missense variants and nine in-frame deletions/duplications of which 12 were novel. The recurrent three-amino acid duplication p.(Asp2303_Leu2305dup) occurred in five patients. Our patient cohort exhibited a broad spectrum of neurodevelopmental phenotypes, comprising six patients with mild to moderate intellectual disability, with or without epilepsy and behavioural disorders, and 14 patients with infantile epileptic encephalopathy, of which 13 had severe neurodevelopmental impairment and four died in early childhood. Imaging studies suggested that the severity of neurological impairment and epilepsy correlates with that of structural abnormalities as well as the mutation type and location. Out of seven patients harbouring mutations outside the α/β spectrin heterodimerization domain, four had normal brain imaging and three exhibited moderately progressive brain and/or cerebellar atrophy. Twelve of 13 patients with mutations located within the spectrin heterodimer contact site exhibited severe and progressive brain, brainstem and cerebellar atrophy, with hypomyelination in most. We used fibroblasts from five patients to study spectrin aggregate formation by Triton-X extraction and immunocytochemistry followed by fluorescence microscopy. αII/βII aggregates and αII spectrin in the insoluble protein fraction were observed in fibroblasts derived from patients with the mutations p.(Glu2207del), p.(Asp2303_Leu2305dup) and p.(Arg2308_Met2309dup), all falling in the nucleation site of the α/β spectrin heterodimer region. Molecular modelling of the seven SPTAN1 amino acid changes provided preliminary evidence for structural alterations of the A-, B- and/or C-helices within each of the mutated spectrin repeats. We conclude that SPTAN1-related disorders comprise a wide spectrum of neurodevelopmental phenotypes ranging from mild to severe and progressive. Spectrin aggregate formation in fibroblasts with mutations in the α/β heterodimerization domain seems to be associated with a severe neurodegenerative course and suggests that the amino acid stretch from Asp2303 to Met2309 in the α20 repeat is important for α/β spectrin heterodimer formation and/or αII spectrin function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awx195DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6248409PMC
September 2017

encephalopathy: novel findings on phenotype, variant clustering, functional consequences and treatment aspects.

J Med Genet 2017 07 4;54(7):460-470. Epub 2017 Apr 4.

Department of Genetics, Utrecht University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Background: We aimed for a comprehensive delineation of genetic, functional and phenotypic aspects of encephalopathy and explored potential prospects of personalised medicine.

Methods: Data of 48 individuals with de novo variants were collected from several diagnostic and research cohorts, as well as from 43 patients from the literature. Functional consequences and response to memantine treatment were investigated in vitro and eventually translated into patient care.

Results: Overall, de novo variants in 86 patients were classified as pathogenic/likely pathogenic. Patients presented with neurodevelopmental disorders and a spectrum of hypotonia, movement disorder, cortical visual impairment, cerebral volume loss and epilepsy. Six patients presented with a consistent malformation of cortical development (MCD) intermediate between tubulinopathies and polymicrogyria. Missense variants cluster in transmembrane segments and ligand-binding sites. Functional consequences of variants were diverse, revealing various potential gain-of-function and loss-of-function mechanisms and a retained sensitivity to the use-dependent blocker memantine. However, an objectifiable beneficial treatment response in the respective patients still remains to be demonstrated.

Conclusions: In addition to previously known features of intellectual disability, epilepsy and autism, we found evidence that encephalopathy is also frequently associated with movement disorder, cortical visual impairment and MCD revealing novel phenotypic consequences of channelopathies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jmedgenet-2016-104509DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5656050PMC
July 2017

Delineating the GRIN1 phenotypic spectrum: A distinct genetic NMDA receptor encephalopathy.

Neurology 2016 06 6;86(23):2171-8. Epub 2016 May 6.

Objective: To determine the phenotypic spectrum caused by mutations in GRIN1 encoding the NMDA receptor subunit GluN1 and to investigate their underlying functional pathophysiology.

Methods: We collected molecular and clinical data from several diagnostic and research cohorts. Functional consequences of GRIN1 mutations were investigated in Xenopus laevis oocytes.

Results: We identified heterozygous de novo GRIN1 mutations in 14 individuals and reviewed the phenotypes of all 9 previously reported patients. These 23 individuals presented with a distinct phenotype of profound developmental delay, severe intellectual disability with absent speech, muscular hypotonia, hyperkinetic movement disorder, oculogyric crises, cortical blindness, generalized cerebral atrophy, and epilepsy. Mutations cluster within transmembrane segments and result in loss of channel function of varying severity with a dominant-negative effect. In addition, we describe 2 homozygous GRIN1 mutations (1 missense, 1 truncation), each segregating with severe neurodevelopmental phenotypes in consanguineous families.

Conclusions: De novo GRIN1 mutations are associated with severe intellectual disability with cortical visual impairment as well as oculomotor and movement disorders being discriminating phenotypic features. Loss of NMDA receptor function appears to be the underlying disease mechanism. The identification of both heterozygous and homozygous mutations blurs the borders of dominant and recessive inheritance of GRIN1-associated disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000002740DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4898312PMC
June 2016

STXBP1 encephalopathy: A neurodevelopmental disorder including epilepsy.

Neurology 2016 Mar 10;86(10):954-62. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Authors' affiliations are listed at the end of the article.

Objective: To give a comprehensive overview of the phenotypic and genetic spectrum of STXBP1 encephalopathy (STXBP1-E) by systematically reviewing newly diagnosed and previously reported patients.

Methods: We recruited newly diagnosed patients with STXBP1 mutations through an international network of clinicians and geneticists. Furthermore, we performed a systematic literature search to review the phenotypes of all previously reported patients.

Results: We describe the phenotypic features of 147 patients with STXBP1-E including 45 previously unreported patients with 33 novel STXBP1 mutations. All patients have intellectual disability (ID), which is mostly severe to profound (88%). Ninety-five percent of patients have epilepsy. While one-third of patients presented with Ohtahara syndrome (21%) or West syndrome (9.5%), the majority has a nonsyndromic early-onset epilepsy and encephalopathy (53%) with epileptic spasms or tonic seizures as main seizure type. We found no correlation between severity of seizures and severity of ID or between mutation type and seizure characteristics or cognitive outcome. Neurologic comorbidities including autistic features and movement disorders are frequent. We also report 2 previously unreported adult patients with prominent extrapyramidal features.

Conclusion: De novo STXBP1 mutations are among the most frequent causes of epilepsy and encephalopathy. Most patients have severe to profound ID with little correlation among seizure onset, seizure severity, and the degree of ID. Accordingly, we hypothesize that seizure severity and ID present 2 independent dimensions of the STXBP1-E phenotype. STXBP1-E may be conceptualized as a complex neurodevelopmental disorder rather than a primary epileptic encephalopathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000002457DOI Listing
March 2016

Genetic influences on brain gene expression in rats selected for tameness and aggression.

Genetics 2014 Nov 3;198(3):1277-90. Epub 2014 Sep 3.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 04103 Leipzig, Germany Department of Human Genetics, Gonda Center, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095

Interindividual differences in many behaviors are partly due to genetic differences, but the identification of the genes and variants that influence behavior remains challenging. Here, we studied an F2 intercross of two outbred lines of rats selected for tame and aggressive behavior toward humans for >64 generations. By using a mapping approach that is able to identify genetic loci segregating within the lines, we identified four times more loci influencing tameness and aggression than by an approach that assumes fixation of causative alleles, suggesting that many causative loci were not driven to fixation by the selection. We used RNA sequencing in 150 F2 animals to identify hundreds of loci that influence brain gene expression. Several of these loci colocalize with tameness loci and may reflect the same genetic variants. Through analyses of correlations between allele effects on behavior and gene expression, differential expression between the tame and aggressive rat selection lines, and correlations between gene expression and tameness in F2 animals, we identify the genes Gltscr2, Lgi4, Zfp40, and Slc17a7 as candidate contributors to the strikingly different behavior of the tame and aggressive animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1534/genetics.114.168948DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4224166PMC
November 2014