Calcium Channel Dysfunction in Epilepsy: Gain of CACNA1E

Gemma L. Carvill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

De Novo Pathogenic Variants in CACNA1E Cause Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy With Contractures, Macrocephaly, and Dyskinesias Helbig KL, Lauerer RJ, Bahr JC, et al. Am J Hum Genet. 2019;104(3):562. Developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are severe neurodevelopmental disorders often beginning in infancy or early childhood that are characterized by intractable seizures, abundant epileptiform activity on electroencephalogram (EEG), and developmental impairment or regression. CACNA1E is highly expressed in the central nervous system and encodes the α1-subunit of the voltage-gated CaV2.3 channel, which conducts high-voltage-activated R-type calcium currents that initiate synaptic transmission. Using next-generation sequencing techniques, we identified de novo CACNA1E variants in 30 individuals with DEE, characterized by refractory infantile-onset seizures, severe hypotonia, and profound developmental impairment, often with congenital contractures, macrocephaly, hyperkinetic movement disorders, and early death. Most of the 14, partially recurring, variants cluster within the cytoplasmic ends of all 4 S6 segments, which form the presumed CaV2.3 channel activation gate. Functional analysis of several S6 variants revealed consistent gain-of-function effects comprising facilitated voltage-dependent activation and slowed inactivation. Another variant located in the domain II S4-S5 linker results in facilitated activation and increased current density. Five participants achieved seizure freedom on the antiepileptic drug topiramate, which blocks R-type calcium channels. We establish pathogenic variants in CACNA1E as a cause of DEEs and suggest facilitated R-type calcium currents as a disease mechanism for human epilepsy and developmental disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-201
Number of pages3
JournalEpilepsy Currents
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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