Whole exome sequencing and co-expression analysis identify an SCN1A variant that modifies pathogenicity in a family with genetic epilepsy and febrile seizures plus

Michael F. Hammer*, Yanling Pan, Medhane Cumbay, Manuela Pendziwiat, Zaid Afawi, Hadassah Goldberg-Stern, Laurel Johnstone, Ingo Helbig, Theodore R. Cummins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Family members carrying the same SCN1A variant often exhibit differences in the clinical severity of epilepsy. This variable expressivity suggests that other factors aside from the primary sodium channel variant influence the clinical manifestation. However, identifying such factors has proven challenging in humans. Methods: We perform whole exome sequencing (WES) in a large family in which an SCN1A variant (p.K1372E) is segregating that is associated with a broad spectrum of phenotypes ranging from lack of epilepsy, to febrile seizures and absence seizures, to Dravet syndrome. We assessed the hypothesis that the severity of the SCN1A-related phenotype was affected by alternate alleles at a modifier locus (or loci). Results: One of our top candidates identified by WES was a second variant in the SCN1A gene (p.L375S) that was shared exclusively by unaffected carriers of the K1372E allele. To test the hypothesized that L375S variant nullifies the loss-of-function effect of K1372E, we transiently expressed Nav1.1 carrying the two variants in HEK293T cells and compared their biophysical properties with the wild-type (WT) variant, and then co-expressed WT with K1372E or L375S with K1372E in equal quantity and tested the functional consequence. The data demonstrated that co-expression of the L375S and K1372E alleles reversed the loss-of-function property brought by the K1372E variant, whereas WT-K1372E co-expression remained partial loss-of-function. Significance: These results support the hypothesis that L375S counteracts the loss-of-function effect of K1372E such that individuals carrying both alleles in trans do not present epilepsy-related symptoms. We demonstrate that monogenic epilepsies with wide expressivity can be modified by additional variants in the disease gene, providing a novel framework for the gene-phenotype relationship in genetic epilepsies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1970-1980
Number of pages11
JournalEpilepsia
Volume63
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • SCN1A-related epilepsy
  • biophysical properties
  • co-expressed variants
  • modifier gene
  • whole exome sequencing

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Whole exome sequencing and co-expression analysis identify an SCN1A variant that modifies pathogenicity in a family with genetic epilepsy and febrile seizures plus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this