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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 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 detailRare coding variants in genes encoding GABAA receptors in genetic generalised epilepsies: an exome-based case-control study
May, Patrick UL; Girard, Simon; Harrer, Merle et al

in Lancet Neurology (2018), 17(8), 699-708

Background Genetic generalised epilepsy is the most common type of inherited epilepsy. Despite a high concordance rate of 80% in monozygotic twins, the genetic background is still poorly understood. We ... [more ▼]

Background Genetic generalised epilepsy is the most common type of inherited epilepsy. Despite a high concordance rate of 80% in monozygotic twins, the genetic background is still poorly understood. We aimed to investigate the burden of rare genetic variants in genetic generalised epilepsy. Methods For this exome-based case-control study, we used three different genetic generalised epilepsy case cohorts and three independent control cohorts, all of European descent. Cases included in the study were clinically evaluated for genetic generalised epilepsy. Whole-exome sequencing was done for the discovery case cohort, a validation case cohort, and two independent control cohorts. The replication case cohort underwent targeted next-generation sequencing of the 19 known genes encoding subunits of GABAA receptors and was compared to the respective GABAA receptor variants of a third independent control cohort. Functional investigations were done with automated two-microelectrode voltage clamping in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Findings Statistical comparison of 152 familial index cases with genetic generalised epilepsy in the discovery cohort to 549 ethnically matched controls suggested an enrichment of rare missense (Nonsyn) variants in the ensemble of 19 genes encoding GABAA receptors in cases (odds ratio [OR] 2·40 [95% CI 1·41–4·10]; pNonsyn=0·0014, adjusted pNonsyn=0·019). Enrichment for these genes was validated in a whole-exome sequencing cohort of 357 sporadic and familial genetic generalised epilepsy cases and 1485 independent controls (OR 1·46 [95% CI 1·05–2·03]; pNonsyn=0·0081, adjusted pNonsyn=0·016). Comparison of genes encoding GABAA receptors in the independent replication cohort of 583 familial and sporadic genetic generalised epilepsy index cases, based on candidate-gene panel sequencing, with a third independent control cohort of 635 controls confirmed the overall enrichment of rare missense variants for 15 GABAA receptor genes in cases compared with controls (OR 1·46 [95% CI 1·02–2·08]; pNonsyn=0·013, adjusted pNonsyn=0·027). Functional studies for two selected genes (GABRB2 and GABRA5) showed significant loss-of-function effects with reduced current amplitudes in four of seven tested variants compared with wild-type receptors. Interpretation Functionally relevant variants in genes encoding GABAA receptor subunits constitute a significant risk factor for genetic generalised epilepsy. Examination of the role of specific gene groups and pathways can disentangle the complex genetic architecture of genetic generalised epilepsy. [less ▲]

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