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1.  Extending the KCNQ2 encephalopathy spectrum 
Neurology  2013;81(19):1697-1703.
To determine the frequency of KCNQ2 mutations in patients with neonatal epileptic encephalopathy (NEE), and to expand the phenotypic spectrum of KCNQ2 epileptic encephalopathy.
Eighty-four patients with unexplained NEE were screened for KCNQ2 mutations using classic Sanger sequencing. Clinical data of 6 additional patients with KCNQ2 mutations detected by gene panel were collected. Detailed phenotyping was performed with particular attention to seizure frequency, cognitive outcome, and video-EEG.
In the cohort, we identified 9 different heterozygous de novo KCNQ2 missense mutations in 11 of 84 patients (13%). Two of 6 missense mutations detected by gene panel were recurrent and present in patients of the cohort. Seizures at onset typically consisted of tonic posturing often associated with focal clonic jerking, and were accompanied by apnea with desaturation. One patient diagnosed by gene panel had seizure onset at the age of 5 months. Based on seizure frequency at onset and cognitive outcome, we delineated 3 clinical subgroups, expanding the spectrum of KCNQ2 encephalopathy to patients with moderate intellectual disability and/or infrequent seizures at onset. Recurrent mutations lead to relatively homogenous phenotypes. One patient responded favorably to retigabine; 5 patients had a good response to carbamazepine. In 6 patients, seizures with bradycardia were recorded. One patient died of probable sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.
KCNQ2 mutations cause approximately 13% of unexplained NEE. Patients present with a wide spectrum of severity and, although rare, infantile epilepsy onset is possible.
PMCID: PMC3812107  PMID: 24107868
2.  Reduced ceramide synthase 2 activity causes progressive myoclonic epilepsy 
Ceramides are precursors of complex sphingolipids (SLs), which are important for normal functioning of both the developing and mature brain. Altered SL levels have been associated with many neurodegenerative disorders, including epilepsy, although few direct links have been identified between genes involved in SL metabolism and epilepsy.
We used quantitative real-time PCR, Western blotting, and enzymatic assays to determine the mRNA, protein, and activity levels of ceramide synthase 2 (CERS2) in fiibroblasts isolated from parental control subjects and from a patient diagnosed with progressive myoclonic epilepsy (PME). Mass spectrometry and fluorescence microscopy were used to examine the effects of reduced CERS2 activity on cellular lipid composition and plasma membrane functions.
We identify a novel 27 kb heterozygous deletion including the CERS2 gene in a proband diagnosed with PME. Compared to parental controls, levels of CERS2 mRNA, protein, and activity were reduced by ˜50% in fibroblasts isolated from this proband, resulting in significantly reduced levels of ceramides and sphingomyelins containing the very long-chain fatty acids C24:0 and C26:0. The change in SL composition was also reflected in a reduction in cholera toxin B immunofluorescence, indicating that membrane composition and function are altered.
We propose that reduced levels of CERS2, and consequently diminished levels of ceramides and SLs containing very long-chain fatty acids, lead to development of PME.
PMCID: PMC4212479  PMID: 25356388
3.  A nonsense mutation in FMR1 causing fragile X syndrome 
Fragile X syndrome is a common cause of inherited intellectual disability. It is caused by lack of the FMR1 gene product FMRP. The most frequent cause is the expansion of a CGG repeat located in the 5′UTR of FMR1. Alleles with 200 or more repeats become hypermethylated and transcriptionally silent. Only few patients with intragenic point mutations in FMR1 have been reported and, currently, routine analysis of patients referred for fragile X syndrome includes solely analysis for repeat expansion and methylation status. We identified a substitution in exon 2 of FMR1, c.80C>A, causing a nonsense mutation p.Ser27X, in a patient with classical clinical symptoms of fragile X syndrome. The mother who carried the mutation in heterozygous form presented with mild intellectual impairment. We conclude that further studies including western blot and DNA sequence analysis of the FMR1 gene should be performed in patients with typical symptoms of fragile X syndrome in whom no CGG repeat expansion is detected.
PMCID: PMC3060329  PMID: 21267007
fragile X syndrome; nonsense mutation; FMR1; DNA sequencing
5.  15q13.3 microdeletions increase risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsy 
Nature genetics  2009;41(2):160-162.
We identified 15q13.3 microdeletions encompassing the CHRNA7 gene in 12 of 1,223 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), which were not detected in 3,699 controls (joint P = 5.32 × 10−8). Most deletion carriers showed common IGE syndromes without other features previously associated with 15q13.3 microdeletions, such as intellectual disability, autism or schizophrenia. Our results indicate that 15q13.3 microdeletions constitute the most prevalent risk factor for common epilepsies identified to date.
PMCID: PMC3026630  PMID: 19136953
6.  Recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 predispose to idiopathic generalized epilepsies 
Brain  2009;133(1):23-32.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsies account for 30% of all epilepsies. Despite a predominant genetic aetiology, the genetic factors predisposing to idiopathic generalized epilepsies remain elusive. Studies of structural genomic variations have revealed a significant excess of recurrent microdeletions at 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 in various neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. Microdeletions at 15q13.3 have recently been shown to constitute a strong genetic risk factor for common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes, implicating that other recurrent microdeletions may also be involved in epileptogenesis. This study aimed to investigate the impact of five microdeletions at the genomic hotspot regions 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 on the genetic risk to common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The candidate microdeletions were assessed by high-density single nucleotide polymorphism arrays in 1234 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy from North-western Europe and 3022 controls from the German population. Microdeletions were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and their breakpoints refined by array comparative genomic hybridization. In total, 22 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (1.8%) carried one of the five novel microdeletions compared with nine controls (0.3%) (odds ratio = 6.1; 95% confidence interval 2.8–13.2; χ2 = 26.7; 1 degree of freedom; P = 2.4 × 10−7). Microdeletions were observed at 1q21.1 [Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE)/control: 1/1], 15q11.2 (IGE/control: 12/6), 16p11.2 IGE/control: 1/0, 16p13.11 (IGE/control: 6/2) and 22q11.2 (IGE/control: 2/0). Significant associations with IGEs were found for the microdeletions at 15q11.2 (odds ratio = 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.8–13.2; P = 4.2 × 10−4) and 16p13.11 (odds ratio = 7.4; 95% confidence interval 1.3–74.7; P = 0.009). Including nine patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in this cohort with known 15q13.3 microdeletions (IGE/control: 9/0), parental transmission could be examined in 14 families. While 10 microdeletions were inherited (seven maternal and three paternal transmissions), four microdeletions occurred de novo at 15q13.3 (n = 1), 16p13.11 (n = 2) and 22q11.2 (n = 1). Eight of the transmitting parents were clinically unaffected, suggesting that the microdeletion itself is not sufficient to cause the epilepsy phenotype. Although the microdeletions investigated are individually rare (<1%) in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, they collectively seem to account for a significant fraction of the genetic variance in common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The present results indicate an involvement of microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 in epileptogenesis and strengthen the evidence that recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3 and 16p13.11 confer a pleiotropic susceptibility effect to a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC2801323  PMID: 19843651
idiopathic generalized epilepsy; microdeletions; association; genetics
7.  Subtelomeric study of 132 patients with mental retardation reveals 9 chromosomal anomalies and contributes to the delineation of submicroscopic deletions of 1pter, 2qter, 4pter, 5qter and 9qter 
BMC Medical Genetics  2005;6:21.
Cryptic chromosome imbalances are increasingly acknowledged as a cause for mental retardation and learning disability. New phenotypes associated with specific rearrangements are also being recognized. Techniques for screening for subtelomeric rearrangements are commercially available, allowing the implementation in a diagnostic service laboratory. We report the diagnostic yield in a series of 132 subjects with mental retardation, and the associated clinical phenotypes.
We applied commercially available subtelomeric fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). All patients referred for subtelomeric screening in a 5-year period were reviewed and abnormal cases were further characterized clinically and if possible molecularly.
We identified nine chromosomal rearrangements (two of which were in sisters) corresponding to a diagnostic yield of approx. 7%. All had dysmorphic features. Five had imbalances leading to recognizable phenotypes.
Subtelomeric screening is a useful adjunct to conventional cytogenetic analyses, and should be considered in mentally retarded subjects with dysmorphic features and unknown cause.
PMCID: PMC1174871  PMID: 15904506
8.  Standardized Computer-based Organized Reporting of EEG: SCORE 
Epilepsia  2013;54(6):1112-1124.
The electroencephalography (EEG) signal has a high complexity, and the process of extracting clinically relevant features is achieved by visual analysis of the recordings. The interobserver agreement in EEG interpretation is only moderate. This is partly due to the method of reporting the findings in free-text format. The purpose of our endeavor was to create a computer-based system for EEG assessment and reporting, where the physicians would construct the reports by choosing from predefined elements for each relevant EEG feature, as well as the clinical phenomena (for video-EEG recordings). A working group of EEG experts took part in consensus workshops in Dianalund, Denmark, in 2010 and 2011. The faculty was approved by the Commission on European Affairs of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). The working group produced a consensus proposal that went through a pan-European review process, organized by the European Chapter of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. The Standardised Computer-based Organised Reporting of EEG (SCORE) software was constructed based on the terms and features of the consensus statement and it was tested in the clinical practice. The main elements of SCORE are the following: personal data of the patient, referral data, recording conditions, modulators, background activity, drowsiness and sleep, interictal findings, “episodes” (clinical or subclinical events), physiologic patterns, patterns of uncertain significance, artifacts, polygraphic channels, and diagnostic significance. The following specific aspects of the neonatal EEGs are scored: alertness, temporal organization, and spatial organization. For each EEG finding, relevant features are scored using predefined terms. Definitions are provided for all EEG terms and features. SCORE can potentially improve the quality of EEG assessment and reporting; it will help incorporate the results of computer-assisted analysis into the report, it will make possible the build-up of a multinational database, and it will help in training young neurophysiologists.
PMCID: PMC3759702  PMID: 23506075
Assessment; Database; Definitions; EEG; Semiology; Terms

Results 1-8 (8)