Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City 84132.
Recurrent seizures, commonly known as epilepsies, occur in 1.7% of the general population by age 40. The factors that initiate or underlie seizures are not well understood, but trauma, infectious disease and genetics have been implicated. An understanding of the molecular basis of seizures would shed light on the basic mechanisms of neuronal homeostasis and allow new therapeutic strategies to be explored. Here, we report the mapping of an epilepsy gene to a specific chromosomal region, on the basis of cosegregation of two closely-linked DNA markers with a form of epilepsy known as benign familial neonatal convulsions (BFNC2, 12120 in ref. 3). The linked markers confirm the genetic basis and autosomal dominant inheritance of this trait, and localize the gene causing BFNC in this family to the long arm of chromosome 20. This regional placement is the first step towards the isolation of a gene involved in neuronal activity in the human brain.