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1.  Structural genomic variation in childhood epilepsies with complex phenotypes 
A genetic contribution to a broad range of epilepsies has been postulated, and particularly copy number variations (CNVs) have emerged as significant genetic risk factors. However, the role of CNVs in patients with epilepsies with complex phenotypes is not known. Therefore, we investigated the role of CNVs in patients with unclassified epilepsies and complex phenotypes. A total of 222 patients from three European countries, including patients with structural lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), dysmorphic features, and multiple congenital anomalies, were clinically evaluated and screened for CNVs. MRI findings including acquired or developmental lesions and patient characteristics were subdivided and analyzed in subgroups. MRI data were available for 88.3% of patients, of whom 41.6% had abnormal MRI findings. Eighty-eight rare CNVs were discovered in 71 out of 222 patients (31.9%). Segregation of all identified variants could be assessed in 42 patients, 11 of which were de novo. The frequency of all structural variants and de novo variants was not statistically different between patients with or without MRI abnormalities or MRI subcategories. Patients with dysmorphic features were more likely to carry a rare CNV. Genome-wide screening methods for rare CNVs may provide clues for the genetic etiology in patients with a broader range of epilepsies than previously anticipated, including in patients with various brain anomalies detectable by MRI. Performing genome-wide screens for rare CNVs can be a valuable contribution to the routine diagnostic workup in patients with a broad range of childhood epilepsies.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.262
PMCID: PMC4060113  PMID: 24281369
CNV; structural genomic variation; childhood epilepsies; epileptic encephalopathies
2.  A recurrent de novo mutation in KCNC1 causes progressive myoclonus epilepsy 
Nature genetics  2014;47(1):39-46.
Progressive myoclonus epilepsies (PMEs) are a group of rare, inherited disorders manifesting with action myoclonus, tonic-clonic seizures, and ataxia. We exome-sequenced 84 unrelated PME patients of unknown cause and molecularly solved 26 cases (31%). Remarkably, a recurrent de novo mutation c.959G>A (p.Arg320His) in KCNC1 was identified as a novel major cause for PME. Eleven unrelated exome-sequenced (13%) and two patients in a secondary cohort (7%) had this mutation. KCNC1 encodes KV3.1, a subunit of the KV3 voltage-gated K+ channels, major determinants of high-frequency neuronal firing. Functional analysis of the p.Arg320His mutant channel revealed a dominant-negative loss-of-function effect. Ten patients had pathogenic mutations in known PME-associated genes (NEU1, NHLRC1, AFG3L2, EPM2A, CLN6, SERPINI1). Identification of mutations in PRNP, SACS, and TBC1D24 expand their phenotypic spectrum to PME. These findings provide important insights into the molecular genetic basis of PME and reveal the role of de novo mutations in this disease entity.
doi:10.1038/ng.3144
PMCID: PMC4281260  PMID: 25401298
3.  Burden Analysis of Rare Microdeletions Suggests a Strong Impact of Neurodevelopmental Genes in Genetic Generalised Epilepsies 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(5):e1005226.
Genetic generalised epilepsy (GGE) is the most common form of genetic epilepsy, accounting for 20% of all epilepsies. Genomic copy number variations (CNVs) constitute important genetic risk factors of common GGE syndromes. In our present genome-wide burden analysis, large (≥ 400 kb) and rare (< 1%) autosomal microdeletions with high calling confidence (≥ 200 markers) were assessed by the Affymetrix SNP 6.0 array in European case-control cohorts of 1,366 GGE patients and 5,234 ancestry-matched controls. We aimed to: 1) assess the microdeletion burden in common GGE syndromes, 2) estimate the relative contribution of recurrent microdeletions at genomic rearrangement hotspots and non-recurrent microdeletions, and 3) identify potential candidate genes for GGE. We found a significant excess of microdeletions in 7.3% of GGE patients compared to 4.0% in controls (P = 1.8 x 10-7; OR = 1.9). Recurrent microdeletions at seven known genomic hotspots accounted for 36.9% of all microdeletions identified in the GGE cohort and showed a 7.5-fold increased burden (P = 2.6 x 10-17) relative to controls. Microdeletions affecting either a gene previously implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders (P = 8.0 x 10-18, OR = 4.6) or an evolutionarily conserved brain-expressed gene related to autism spectrum disorder (P = 1.3 x 10-12, OR = 4.1) were significantly enriched in the GGE patients. Microdeletions found only in GGE patients harboured a high proportion of genes previously associated with epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disorders (NRXN1, RBFOX1, PCDH7, KCNA2, EPM2A, RORB, PLCB1). Our results demonstrate that the significantly increased burden of large and rare microdeletions in GGE patients is largely confined to recurrent hotspot microdeletions and microdeletions affecting neurodevelopmental genes, suggesting a strong impact of fundamental neurodevelopmental processes in the pathogenesis of common GGE syndromes.
Author Summary
Epilepsy affects about 4% of the general population during lifetime. The genetic generalised epilepsies (GGEs) represent the most common group of epilepsies with predominant genetic aetiology, accounting for 20% of all epilepsies. Despite their strong heritability, the genetic basis of the majority of patients with GGE remains elusive. Genomic microdeletions constitute a significant source of genetic risk factors for epilepsies. The present genome-wide burden analysis in 1,366 European patients with GGE and 5,234 ancestry-matched controls explored the role of large and rare microdeletions (size ≥ 400 kb, frequency < 1%) in the complex genetic architecture of common GGE syndromes. Our results revealed a 2-fold excess of microdeletions in GGE patients relative to the population controls, 2) a 7-fold increased burden for known hotspot microdeletions (15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p13.11, 22q11.2) previously associated with a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders, and 3) a more than 4-fold enrichment of microdeletions carrying a gene implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders. Our findings reinforce emerging evidence that genes affected by microdeletions in GGE patients have a strong impact in fundamental neurodevelopmental processes and dissect novel candidate genes involved in epileptogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005226
PMCID: PMC4423931  PMID: 25950944
4.  Dysregulation of FOXG1 by ring chromosome 14 
In this study we performed molecular characterization of a patient with an extra ring chromosome derived from chromosome 14, with severe intellectual disability, epilepsy, cerebral paresis, tetraplegia, osteoporosis and severe thoraco-lumbal scoliosis. Array CGH analysis did not show any genomic imbalance but conventional karyotyping and FISH analysis revealed the presence of an interstitial 14q12q24.3 deletion and an extra ring chromosome derived from the deleted material. The deletion and ring chromosome breakpoints were identified at base-pair level by mate-pair and Sanger sequencing. Both breakpoints disrupted putative long non-coding RNA genes (TCONS00022561;RP11-148E17.1) of unknown function. However, the proximal breakpoint was 225 kb downstream of the forkhead box G1 gene (FOXG1), within the known regulatory landscape of FOXG1. The patient represents the first case of a r(14) arising from an interstitial excision where the phenotype is compatible with dysregulation of FOXG1. In turn, the phenotypic overlap between the present case, the FOXG1 syndrome and the r(14) syndrome supports that dysregulation of FOXG1 may contribute to the classical r(14)-syndrome, likely mediated by dynamic mosaicism.
doi:10.1186/s13039-015-0129-4
PMCID: PMC4404611  PMID: 25901181
Ring chromosome 14; 14q12; Epilepsy; FOXG1; Intellectual disability; Dynamic mosaicism
5.  GABRA1 and STXBP1: Novel genetic causes of Dravet syndrome 
Neurology  2014;82(14):1245-1253.
Objective:
To determine the genes underlying Dravet syndrome in patients who do not have an SCN1A mutation on routine testing.
Methods:
We performed whole-exome sequencing in 13 SCN1A-negative patients with Dravet syndrome and targeted resequencing in 67 additional patients to identify new genes for this disorder.
Results:
We detected disease-causing mutations in 2 novel genes for Dravet syndrome, with mutations in GABRA1 in 4 cases and STXBP1 in 3. Furthermore, we identified 3 patients with previously undetected SCN1A mutations, suggesting that SCN1A mutations occur in even more than the currently accepted ∼75% of cases.
Conclusions:
We show that GABRA1 and STXBP1 make a significant contribution to Dravet syndrome after SCN1A abnormalities have been excluded. Our results have important implications for diagnostic testing, clinical management, and genetic counseling of patients with this devastating disorder and their families.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000291
PMCID: PMC4001207  PMID: 24623842
6.  CHD2 variants are a risk factor for photosensitivity in epilepsy 
Brain  2015;138(5):1198-1207.
Photosensitivity in epilepsy is common and has high heritability, but its genetic basis remains uncertain. Galizia et al. reveal an overrepresentation of unique variants of CHD2 — which encodes the transcriptional regulator ‘chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 2’ — in photosensitive epilepsies, and show that chd2 knockdown in zebrafish causes photosensitivity.
Photosensitivity in epilepsy is common and has high heritability, but its genetic basis remains uncertain. Galizia et al. reveal an overrepresentation of unique variants of CHD2 — which encodes the transcriptional regulator ‘chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 2’ — in photosensitive epilepsies, and show that chd2 knockdown in zebrafish causes photosensitivity.
Photosensitivity is a heritable abnormal cortical response to flickering light, manifesting as particular electroencephalographic changes, with or without seizures. Photosensitivity is prominent in a very rare epileptic encephalopathy due to de novo CHD2 mutations, but is also seen in epileptic encephalopathies due to other gene mutations. We determined whether CHD2 variation underlies photosensitivity in common epilepsies, specific photosensitive epilepsies and individuals with photosensitivity without seizures. We studied 580 individuals with epilepsy and either photosensitive seizures or abnormal photoparoxysmal response on electroencephalography, or both, and 55 individuals with photoparoxysmal response but no seizures. We compared CHD2 sequence data to publicly available data from 34 427 individuals, not enriched for epilepsy. We investigated the role of unique variants seen only once in the entire data set. We sought CHD2 variants in 238 exomes from familial genetic generalized epilepsies, and in other public exome data sets. We identified 11 unique variants in the 580 individuals with photosensitive epilepsies and 128 unique variants in the 34 427 controls: unique CHD2 variation is over-represented in cases overall (P = 2·17 × 10−5). Among epilepsy syndromes, there was over-representation of unique CHD2 variants (3/36 cases) in the archetypal photosensitive epilepsy syndrome, eyelid myoclonia with absences (P = 3·50 × 10−4). CHD2 variation was not over-represented in photoparoxysmal response without seizures. Zebrafish larvae with chd2 knockdown were tested for photosensitivity. Chd2 knockdown markedly enhanced mild innate zebrafish larval photosensitivity. CHD2 mutation is the first identified cause of the archetypal generalized photosensitive epilepsy syndrome, eyelid myoclonia with absences. Unique CHD2 variants are also associated with photosensitivity in common epilepsies. CHD2 does not encode an ion channel, opening new avenues for research into human cortical excitability.
doi:10.1093/brain/awv052
PMCID: PMC4407192  PMID: 25783594
photosensitive; seizure; eyelid myoclonia with absences
7.  Extending the KCNQ2 encephalopathy spectrum 
Neurology  2013;81(19):1697-1703.
Objectives:
To determine the frequency of KCNQ2 mutations in patients with neonatal epileptic encephalopathy (NEE), and to expand the phenotypic spectrum of KCNQ2 epileptic encephalopathy.
Methods:
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.
Results:
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.
Conclusion:
KCNQ2 mutations cause approximately 13% of unexplained NEE. Patients present with a wide spectrum of severity and, although rare, infantile epilepsy onset is possible.
doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000435296.72400.a1
PMCID: PMC3812107  PMID: 24107868
8.  Reduced ceramide synthase 2 activity causes progressive myoclonic epilepsy 
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Interpretation
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.
doi:10.1002/acn3.28
PMCID: PMC4212479  PMID: 25356388
10.  Correction: RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 Mutations in Rolandic Epilepsy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):10.1371/annotation/f6aed47b-9135-45f5-bfdd-f4ceb33c8561.
doi:10.1371/annotation/f6aed47b-9135-45f5-bfdd-f4ceb33c8561
PMCID: PMC3823558
11.  RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 Mutations in Rolandic Epilepsy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73323.
Partial deletions of the gene encoding the neuronal splicing regulator RBFOX1 have been reported in a range of neurodevelopmental diseases, including idiopathic generalized epilepsy. The RBFOX1 protein and its homologues (RBFOX2 and RBFOX3) regulate alternative splicing of many neuronal transcripts involved in the homeostatic control of neuronal excitability. In this study, we explored if structural microdeletions and exonic sequence variations in RBFOX1, RBFOX2, RBFOX3 confer susceptibility to rolandic epilepsy (RE), a common idiopathic focal childhood epilepsy. By high-density SNP array screening of 289 unrelated RE patients, we identified two hemizygous deletions, a 365 kb deletion affecting two untranslated 5′-terminal exons of RBFOX1 and a 43 kb deletion spanning exon 3 of RBFOX3. Exome sequencing of 242 RE patients revealed two novel probably deleterious variants in RBFOX1, a frameshift mutation (p.A233Vfs*74) and a hexanucleotide deletion (p.A299_A300del), and a novel nonsense mutation in RBFOX3 (p.Y287*). Although the three variants were inherited from unaffected parents, they were present in all family members exhibiting the RE trait clinically or electroencephalographically with only one exception. In contrast, no deleterious mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 were found in the exomes of 6503 non-RE subjects deposited in the Exome Variant Server database. The observed RBFOX3 exon 3 deletion and nonsense mutation suggest that RBFOX3 represents a novel risk factor for RE, indicating that exon deletions and truncating mutations of RBFOX1 and RBFOX3 contribute to the genetic variance of partial and generalized idiopathic epilepsy syndromes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073323
PMCID: PMC3765197  PMID: 24039908
13.  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.
doi:10.1038/ng.292
PMCID: PMC3026630  PMID: 19136953
14.  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.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp262
PMCID: PMC2801323  PMID: 19843651
idiopathic generalized epilepsy; microdeletions; association; genetics
15.  Characterization of a t(5;8)(q31;q21) translocation in a patient with mental retardation and congenital heart disease: implications for involvement of RUNX1T1 in human brain and heart development 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2009;17(8):1010-1018.
The chromosome break points of the t(8;21)(q21.3;q22.12) translocation associated with acute myeloid leukemia disrupt the RUNX1 gene (also known as AML1) and the RUNX1T1 gene (also known as CBFA2T3, MTG8 and ETO) and generate a RUNX1–RUNX1T1 fusion protein. Molecular characterization of the translocation break points in a t(5;8)(q32;q21.3) patient with mild-to-moderate mental retardation and congenital heart disease revealed that one of the break points was within the RUNX1T1 gene. Analysis of RUNX1T1 expression in human embryonic and fetal tissues suggests a role of RUNX1T1 in brain and heart development and support the notion that disruption of the RUNX1T1 gene is associated with the patient's phenotype.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.269
PMCID: PMC2986559  PMID: 19172993
RUNX1T1; MTG8; ETO; acute myeloid leukemia (AML); brain development; heart development

Results 1-15 (15)