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See detailGenotype-phenotype correlations in SCN8A-related disorders reveal prognostic and therapeutic implications
Johannesen, Katrine M.; Liu, Yuanyuan; Koko, Mahmoud et al

in Brain (2022)

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 392 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6, with the aim of ... [more ▼]

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 392 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6, with the aim of describing clinical phenotypes related to functional effects. Six different clinical subgroups could be identified: 1) Benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE) (n = 15, normal cognition, treatable seizures), 2) intermediate epilepsy (n = 33, mild ID, partially pharmaco-responsive), 3) developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE, n = 177, severe ID, majority pharmaco-resistant), 4) generalized epilepsy (n = 20, mild to moderate ID, frequently with absence seizures), 5) unclassifiable epilepsy (n = 127), and 6) neurodevelopmental disorder without epilepsy (n = 20, mild to moderate ID). Groups 1–3 presented with focal or multifocal seizures (median age of onset: four months) and focal epileptiform discharges, whereas the onset of seizures in group 4 was later (median: 42 months) with generalized epileptiform discharges. We performed functional studies expressing missense variants in ND7/23 neuroblastoma cells and primary neuronal cultures using recombinant tetrodotoxin-insensitive human NaV1.6 channels and whole-cell patch-clamping. Two variants causing DEE showed a strong gain-of-function (GOF, hyperpolarising shift of steady-state activation, strongly increased neuronal firing rate), and one variant causing BFIE or intermediate epilepsy showed a mild GOF (defective fast inactivation, less increased firing). In contrast, all three variants causing generalized epilepsy induced a loss-of-function (LOF, reduced current amplitudes, depolarising shift of steady-state activation, reduced neuronal firing). Including previous studies, functional effects were known for 170 individuals. All 136 individuals carrying a functionally tested GOF variant had either focal (97, groups 1–3), or unclassifiable epilepsy (39), whereas 34 with a LOF variant had either generalized (14), no (11) or unclassifiable (6) epilepsy; only three had DEE. Computational modeling in the GOF group revealed a significant correlation between the severity of the electrophysiological and clinical phenotypes. GOF variant carriers responded significantly better to sodium channel blockers (SCBs) than to other anti-seizure medications, and the same applied for all individuals of groups 1–3.In conclusion, our data reveal clear genotype-phenotype correlations between age at seizure onset, type of epilepsy and gain- or loss-of-function effects of SCN8A variants. Generalized epilepsy with absence seizures is the main epilepsy phenotype of LOF variant carriers and the extent of the electrophysiological dysfunction of the GOF variants is a main determinant of the severity of the clinical phenotype in focal epilepsies. Our pharmacological data indicate that SCBs present a treatment option in SCN8A-related focal epilepsy with onset in the first year of life. [less ▲]

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See detailSub-genic intolerance, ClinVar, and the epilepsies: A whole-exome sequencing study of 29,165 individuals
Motelow, Joshua E.; Povysil, Gundula; Dhindsa, Ryan S. et al

in The American Journal of Human Genetics (2021)

Summary Both mild and severe epilepsies are influenced by variants in the same genes, yet an explanation for the resulting phenotypic variation is unknown. As part of the ongoing Epi25 Collaboration, we ... [more ▼]

Summary Both mild and severe epilepsies are influenced by variants in the same genes, yet an explanation for the resulting phenotypic variation is unknown. As part of the ongoing Epi25 Collaboration, we performed a whole-exome sequencing analysis of 13,487 epilepsy-affected individuals and 15,678 control individuals. While prior Epi25 studies focused on gene-based collapsing analyses, we asked how the pattern of variation within genes differs by epilepsy type. Specifically, we compared the genetic architectures of severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) and two generally less severe epilepsies, genetic generalized epilepsy and non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE). Our gene-based rare variant collapsing analysis used geographic ancestry-based clustering that included broader ancestries than previously possible and revealed novel associations. Using the missense intolerance ratio (MTR), we found that variants in DEE-affected individuals are in significantly more intolerant genic sub-regions than those in NAFE-affected individuals. Only previously reported pathogenic variants absent in available genomic datasets showed a significant burden in epilepsy-affected individuals compared with control individuals, and the ultra-rare pathogenic variants associated with DEE were located in more intolerant genic sub-regions than variants associated with non-DEE epilepsies. MTR filtering improved the yield of ultra-rare pathogenic variants in affected individuals compared with control individuals. Finally, analysis of variants in genes without a disease association revealed a significant burden of loss-of-function variants in the genes most intolerant to such variation, indicating additional epilepsy-risk genes yet to be discovered. Taken together, our study suggests that genic and sub-genic intolerance are critical characteristics for interpreting the effects of variation in genes that influence epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailGenotype-phenotype correlations in SCN8A-related disorders reveal prognostic and therapeutic implications
Johannesen, Katrine M.; Liu, Yuanyuan; Gjerulfsen, Cathrine E. et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 433 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6. Five different ... [more ▼]

We report detailed functional analyses and genotype-phenotype correlations in 433 individuals carrying disease-causing variants in SCN8A, encoding the voltage-gated Na+ channel NaV1.6. Five different clinical subgroups could be identified: 1) Benign familial infantile epilepsy (BFIE) (n=17, normal cognition, treatable seizures), 2) intermediate epilepsy (n=36, mild ID, partially pharmacoresponsive), 3) developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE, n=191, severe ID, majority pharmacoresistant), 4) generalized epilepsy (n=21, mild to moderate ID, frequently with absence seizures), and 5) affected individuals without epilepsy (n=25, mild to moderate ID). Groups 1-3 presented with early-onset (median: four months) focal or multifocal seizures and epileptic discharges, whereas the onset of seizures in group 4 was later (median: 39 months) with generalized epileptic discharges. The epilepsy was not classifiable in 143 individuals. We performed functional studies expressing missense variants in ND7/23 neuroblastoma cells and primary neuronal cultures using recombinant tetrodotoxin insensitive human NaV1.6 channels and whole-cell patch clamping. Two variants causing DEE showed a strong gain-of-function (GOF, hyperpolarising shift of steady-state activation, strongly increased neuronal firing rate), and one variant causing BFIE or intermediate epilepsy showed a mild GOF (defective fast inactivation, less increased firing). In contrast, all three variants causing generalized epilepsy induced a loss-of-function (LOF, reduced current amplitudes, depolarising shift of steady-state activation, reduced neuronal firing). Including previous studies, functional effects were known for 165 individuals. All 133 individuals carrying GOF variants had either focal (76, groups 1-3), or unclassifiable epilepsy (37), whereas 32 with LOF variants had either generalized (14), no (11) or unclassifiable (5) epilepsy; only two had DEE. Computational modeling in the GOF group revealed a significant correlation between the severity of the electrophysiological and clinical phenotypes. GOF variant carriers responded significantly better to sodium channel blockers (SCBs) than to other anti-seizure medications, and the same applied for all individuals of groups 1-3.In conclusion, our data reveal clear genotype-phenotype correlations between age at seizure onset, type of epilepsy and gain- or loss-of-function effects of SCN8A variants. Generalized epilepsy with absence seizures is the main epilepsy phenotype of LOF variant carriers and the extent of the electrophysiological dysfunction of the GOF variants is a main determinant of the severity of the clinical phenotype in focal epilepsies. Our pharmacological data indicate that SCBs present a therapeutic treatment option in early onset SCN8A-related focal epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailGene family information facilitates variant interpretation and identification of disease-associated genes in neurodevelopmental disorders
Lal, Dennis; May, Patrick UL; Perez-Palma, Eduardo et al

in Genome Medicine (2020), 12(28),

Background: Classifying pathogenicity of missense variants represents a major challenge in clinical practice during the diagnoses of rare and genetic heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs ... [more ▼]

Background: Classifying pathogenicity of missense variants represents a major challenge in clinical practice during the diagnoses of rare and genetic heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). While orthologous gene conservation is commonly employed in variant annotation, approximately 80% of known disease-associated genes belong to gene families. The use of gene family information for disease gene discovery and variant interpretation has not yet been investigated on genome-wide scale. We empirically evaluate whether paralog conserved or non-conserved sites in human gene families are important in NDDs. Methods: Gene family information was collected from Ensembl. Paralog conserved sites were defined based on paralog sequence alignments. 10,068 NDD patients and 2,078 controls were statistically evaluated for de novo variant burden in gene families. Results: We demonstrate that disease-associated missense variants are enriched at paralog conserved sites across all disease groups and inheritance models tested. We developed a gene family de novo enrichment framework that identified 43 exome-wide enriched gene families including 98 de novo variant carrying genes in NDD patients of which 28 represent novel candidate genes for NDD which are brain expressed and under evolutionary constraint. Conclusion: This study represents the first method to incorporate gene-family information into a statistical framework to interpret variant data for NDDs and to discover newly NDD -associated genes. [less ▲]

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See detailSemantic Similarity Analysis Reveals Robust Gene-Disease Relationships in Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathies
Galer, Peter D.; Ganesan, Shiva; Lewis-Smith, David et al

in The American Journal of Human Genetics (2020), 107(4), 683-697

Summary 2.1 × 10−5) and “focal clonic seizures” (HP: 0002266; p = 8.9 × 10−6), STXBP1 with “absent speech” (HP: 0001344; p = 1.3 × 10−11), and SLC6A1 with “EEG with generalized slow activity” (HP: 0010845 ... [more ▼]

Summary 2.1 × 10−5) and “focal clonic seizures” (HP: 0002266; p = 8.9 × 10−6), STXBP1 with “absent speech” (HP: 0001344; p = 1.3 × 10−11), and SLC6A1 with “EEG with generalized slow activity” (HP: 0010845; p = 0.018). Of 41 genes with de novo variants in two or more individuals, 11 genes showed significant phenotypic similarity, including SCN1A (n = 16, p < 0.0001), STXBP1 (n = 14, p = 0.0021), and KCNB1 (n = 6, p = 0.011). Including genetic and phenotypic data of control subjects increased phenotypic similarity for all genetic etiologies, whereas the probability of observing de novo variants decreased, emphasizing the conceptual differences between semantic similarity analysis and approaches based on the expected number of de novo events. We demonstrate that HPO-based phenotype analysis captures unique profiles for distinct genetic etiologies, reflecting the breadth of the phenotypic spectrum in genetic epilepsies. Semantic similarity can be used to generate statistical evidence for disease causation analogous to the traditional approach of primarily defining disease entities through similar clinical features. [less ▲]

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See detailUltra-Rare Genetic Variation in the Epilepsies: A Whole-Exome Sequencing Study of 17,606 Individuals
Feng, Yen-Chen Anne; Howrigan, Daniel P.; Abbott, Liam E. et al

in American Journal of Human Genetics (2019)

Sequencing-based studies have identified novel risk genes associated with severe epilepsies and revealed an excess of rare deleterious variation in less-severe forms of epilepsy. To identify the shared ... [more ▼]

Sequencing-based studies have identified novel risk genes associated with severe epilepsies and revealed an excess of rare deleterious variation in less-severe forms of epilepsy. To identify the shared and distinct ultra-rare genetic risk factors for different types of epilepsies, we performed a whole-exome sequencing (WES) analysis of 9,170 epilepsy-affected individuals and 8,436 controls of European ancestry. We focused on three phenotypic groups: severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs), genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE), and non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE). We observed that compared to controls, individuals with any type of epilepsy carried an excess of ultra-rare, deleterious variants in constrained genes and in genes previously associated with epilepsy; we saw the strongest enrichment in individuals with DEEs and the least strong in individuals with NAFE. Moreover, we found that inhibitory GABAA receptor genes were enriched for missense variants across all three classes of epilepsy, whereas no enrichment was seen in excitatory receptor genes. The larger gene groups for the GABAergic pathway or cation channels also showed a significant mutational burden in DEEs and GGE. Although no single gene surpassed exome-wide significance among individuals with GGE or NAFE, highly constrained genes and genes encoding ion channels were among the lead associations; such genes included CACNA1G, EEF1A2, and GABRG2 for GGE and LGI1, TRIM3, and GABRG2 for NAFE. Our study, the largest epilepsy WES study to date, confirms a convergence in the genetics of severe and less-severe epilepsies associated with ultra-rare coding variation, and it highlights a ubiquitous role for GABAergic inhibition in epilepsy etiology. [less ▲]

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See detailA Recurrent Missense Variant in AP2M1 Impairs Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis and Causes Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy.
Helbig, Ingo; Lopez-Hernandez, Tania; Shor, Oded et al

in American journal of human genetics (2019)

The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are heterogeneous disorders with a strong genetic contribution, but the underlying genetic etiology remains unknown in a significant proportion of ... [more ▼]

The developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs) are heterogeneous disorders with a strong genetic contribution, but the underlying genetic etiology remains unknown in a significant proportion of individuals. To explore whether statistical support for genetic etiologies can be generated on the basis of phenotypic features, we analyzed whole-exome sequencing data and phenotypic similarities by using Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) in 314 individuals with DEEs. We identified a de novo c.508C>T (p.Arg170Trp) variant in AP2M1 in two individuals with a phenotypic similarity that was higher than expected by chance (p = 0.003) and a phenotype related to epilepsy with myoclonic-atonic seizures. We subsequently found the same de novo variant in two individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and generalized epilepsy in a cohort of 2,310 individuals who underwent diagnostic whole-exome sequencing. AP2M1 encodes the mu-subunit of the adaptor protein complex 2 (AP-2), which is involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) and synaptic vesicle recycling. Modeling of protein dynamics indicated that the p.Arg170Trp variant impairs the conformational activation and thermodynamic entropy of the AP-2 complex. Functional complementation of both the mu-subunit carrying the p.Arg170Trp variant in human cells and astrocytes derived from AP-2mu conditional knockout mice revealed a significant impairment of CME of transferrin. In contrast, stability, expression levels, membrane recruitment, and localization were not impaired, suggesting a functional alteration of the AP-2 complex as the underlying disease mechanism. We establish a recurrent pathogenic variant in AP2M1 as a cause of DEEs with distinct phenotypic features, and we implicate dysfunction of the early steps of endocytosis as a disease mechanism in epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailBiallelic VARS variants cause developmental encephalopathy with microcephaly that is recapitulated in vars knockout zebrafish
Siekierska, Aleksandra; Stamberger, Hannah; Deconinck, Tine et al

in Nature Communications (2019), 10(1), 708

Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases (ARSs) link specific amino acids with their cognate transfer RNAs in a critical early step of protein translation. Mutations in ARSs have emerged as a cause of recessive, often ... [more ▼]

Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases (ARSs) link specific amino acids with their cognate transfer RNAs in a critical early step of protein translation. Mutations in ARSs have emerged as a cause of recessive, often complex neurological disease traits. Here we report an allelic series consisting of seven novel and two previously reported biallelic variants in valyl-tRNA synthetase (VARS) in ten patients with a developmental encephalopathy with microcephaly, often associated with early-onset epilepsy. In silico, in vitro, and yeast complementation assays demonstrate that the underlying pathomechanism of these mutations is most likely a loss of protein function. Zebrafish modeling accurately recapitulated some of the key neurological disease traits. These results provide both genetic and biological insights into neurodevelopmental disease and pave the way for further in-depth research on ARS related recessive disorders and precision therapies. [less ▲]

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See detailClinical spectrum of STX1B-related epileptic disorders
Wolking, Stefan; May, Patrick UL; Mei, Davide et al

in Neurology (2019), 92

Objective: The aim of this study was to expand the spectrum of epilepsy syndromes related to STX1B, encoding the presynaptic protein syntaxin-1B, and to establish genotype-phenotype correlations by ... [more ▼]

Objective: The aim of this study was to expand the spectrum of epilepsy syndromes related to STX1B, encoding the presynaptic protein syntaxin-1B, and to establish genotype-phenotype correlations by identifying further disease-related variants. Methods: We used next generation sequencing in the framework of research projects and diagnostic testing. Clinical data and EEGs were reviewed, including already published cases. To estimate the pathogenicity of the variants, we used established and newly developed in silico prediction tools. Results: We describe fifteen new variants in STX1B which are distributed across the whole gene. We discerned four different phenotypic groups across the newly identified and previously published patients (49 in 23 families): 1) Six sporadic patients or families (31 affected individuals) with febrile and afebrile seizures with a benign course, generally good drug response, normal development and without permanent neurological deficits; 2) two patients of genetic generalized epilepsy without febrile seizures and cognitive deficits; 3) thirteen patients or families with intractable seizures, developmental regression after seizure onset and additional neuropsychiatric symptoms; 4) two patients with focal epilepsy. Nonsense mutations were found more often in benign syndromes, whereas missense variants in the SNARE motif of syntaxin-1B were associated with more severe phenotypes. Conclusion: These data expand the genetic and phenotypic spectrum of STX1B-related epilepsies to a diverse range of epilepsies that span the ILAE classification. Variants in STX1B are protean, and able to contribute to many different epilepsy phenotypes, similar to SCN1A, the most important gene associated with fever-associated epilepsies. [less ▲]

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See detailDe novo Variants in Neurodevelopmental Disorders with Epilepsy
Heyne, Henrike O.; Singh, Tarijinder; Stamberger, Hannah et al

in Nature Genetics (2018)

Epilepsy is a frequent feature of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) but little is known about genetic differences between NDD with and without epilepsy. We analyzed de novo variants (DNV) in 6753 parent ... [more ▼]

Epilepsy is a frequent feature of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) but little is known about genetic differences between NDD with and without epilepsy. We analyzed de novo variants (DNV) in 6753 parent-offspring trios ascertained for different NDD. In the subset of 1942 individuals with NDD with epilepsy, we identified 33 genes with a significant excess of DNV, of which SNAP25 and GABRB2 had previously only limited evidence for disease association. Joint analysis of all individuals with NDD also implicated CACNA1E as a novel disease gene. Comparing NDD with and without epilepsy, we found missense DNV, DNV in specific genes, age of recruitment and severity of intellectual disability to be associated with epilepsy. We further demonstrate to what extent our results impact current genetic testing as well as treatment, emphasizing the benefit of accurate genetic diagnosis in NDD with epilepsy. [less ▲]

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See detailDe novo Variants in Neurodevelopmental Disorders with Epilepsy
Heyne, Henrike O.; EuroEPINOMICS RES Consortium; Abou Jamra, Rami et al

E-print/Working paper (2018)

Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) with epilepsy constitute a complex and heterogeneous phenotypic spectrum of largely unclear genetic architecture. We conducted exome-wide enrichment analyses for protein ... [more ▼]

Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) with epilepsy constitute a complex and heterogeneous phenotypic spectrum of largely unclear genetic architecture. We conducted exome-wide enrichment analyses for protein-altering de novo variants (DNV) in 7088 parent-offspring trios with NDD of which 2151 were comorbid with epilepsy. In this cohort, the genetic spectrum of epileptic encephalopathy (EE) and nonspecific NDD with epilepsy were markedly similar. We identified 33 genes significantly enriched for DNV in NDD with epilepsy, of which 27.3 were associated with therapeutic consequences. These 33 DNV-enriched genes were more often associated with synaptic transmission but less with chromatin modification when compared to NDD without epilepsy. On average, only 53 of the DNV-enriched genes were represented on available diagnostic sequencing panels, so our findings should drive significant improvements of genetic testing approaches. [less ▲]

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See detailLoss of SYNJ1 dual phosphatase activity leads to early onset refractory seizures and progressive neurological decline
Hardies, Katia; Cai, Yiying; Jardel, Claude et al

in Brain : A Journal of Neurology (2016)

SYNJ1 encodes a polyphosphoinositide phosphatase, synaptojanin 1, which contains two consecutive phosphatase domains and plays a prominent role in synaptic vesicle dynamics. Autosomal recessive inherited ... [more ▼]

SYNJ1 encodes a polyphosphoinositide phosphatase, synaptojanin 1, which contains two consecutive phosphatase domains and plays a prominent role in synaptic vesicle dynamics. Autosomal recessive inherited variants in SYNJ1 have previously been associated with two different neurological diseases: a recurrent homozygous missense variant (p.Arg258Gln) that abolishes Sac1 phosphatase activity was identified in three independent families with early onset parkinsonism, whereas a homozygous nonsense variant (p.Arg136*) causing a severe decrease of mRNA transcript was found in a single patient with intractable epilepsy and tau pathology. We performed whole exome or genome sequencing in three independent sib pairs with early onset refractory seizures and progressive neurological decline, and identified novel segregating recessive SYNJ1 defects. A homozygous missense variant resulting in an amino acid substitution (p.Tyr888Cys) was found to impair, but not abolish, the dual phosphatase activity of SYNJ1, whereas three premature stop variants (homozygote p.Trp843* and compound heterozygote p.Gln647Argfs*6/p.Ser1122Thrfs*3) almost completely abolished mRNA transcript production. A genetic follow-up screening in a large cohort of 543 patients with a wide phenotypical range of epilepsies and intellectual disability revealed no additional pathogenic variants, showing that SYNJ1 deficiency is rare and probably linked to a specific phenotype. While variants leading to early onset parkinsonism selectively abolish Sac1 function, our results provide evidence that a critical reduction of the dual phosphatase activity of SYNJ1 underlies a severe disorder with neonatal refractory epilepsy and a neurodegenerative disease course. These findings further expand the clinical spectrum of synaptic dysregulation in patients with severe epilepsy, and emphasize the importance of this biological pathway in seizure pathophysiology. [less ▲]

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