Dravet syndrome is a severe epilepsy syndrome characterized by infantile onset of therapy-resistant, fever-sensitive seizures followed by cognitive decline.
Mutations in SCN1A explain about 75% of cases with Dravet syndrome; 90% of these mutations arise de novo.
Researchers have studied a cohort of nine Dravet-syndrome-affected individuals without an SCN1A mutation ( these included some atypical cases with onset at up to 2 years of age ) by using whole-exome sequencing in proband-parent trios.
In two individuals, researchers have identified a de novo loss-of-function mutation in CHD2 ( encoding chromodomain helicase DNA binding protein 2 ).
A third CHD2 mutation was identified in an epileptic proband of a second ( stage 2 ) cohort.
All three individuals with a CHD2 mutation had intellectual disability and fever-sensitive generalized seizures, as well as prominent myoclonic seizures starting in the second year of life or later.
To explore the functional relevance of CHD2 haploinsufficiency in an in vivo model system, researchers have knocked down chd2 in zebrafish by using targeted morpholino antisense oligomers. chd2-knockdown larvae exhibited altered locomotor activity, and the epileptic nature of this seizure-like behavior was confirmed by field-potential recordings that revealed epileptiform discharges similar to seizures in affected persons.
Both altered locomotor activity and epileptiform discharges were absent in appropriate control larvae.
The study has provided evidence that de novo loss-of-function mutations in CHD2 are a cause of epileptic encephalopathy with generalized seizures. ( Xagena )
Suls A et al, Am J Hum Genet 2013;93:967-975