Targeting Poison Exons to Treat Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy

Miriam C. Aziz, Patricia N. Schneider*, Gemma L. Carvill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) describe a subset of neurodevelopmental disorders categorized by refractory epilepsy that is often associated with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. The majority of DEEs are now known to have a genetic basis with de novo coding variants accounting for the majority of cases. More recently, a small number of individuals have been identified with intronic SCN1A variants that result in alternative splicing events that lead to ectopic inclusion of poison exons (PEs). PEs are short highly conserved exons that contain a premature truncation codon, and when spliced into the transcript, lead to premature truncation and subsequent degradation by nonsense-mediated decay. The reason for the inclusion/exclusion of these PEs is not entirely clear, but research suggests an autoregulatory role in gene expression and protein abundance. This is seen in proteins such as RNA-binding proteins and serine/arginine-rich proteins. Recent studies have focused on targeting these PEs as a method for therapeutic intervention. Targeting PEs using antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) has shown to be effective in modulating alternative splicing events by decreasing the amount of transcripts harboring PEs, thus increasing the abundance of full-length transcripts and thereby the amount of protein in haploinsufficient genes implicated in DEE. In the age of personalized medicine, cellular and animal models of the genetic epilepsies have become essential in developing and testing novel precision therapeutics, including PE-targeting ASOs in a subset of DEEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-246
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Alternative splicing
  • Antisense oligonucleotide
  • Epilepsy
  • Genetics
  • Poison exons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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