2014 - Physiological and genetic analysis of multiple sodium channel variants in a model of genetic absence epilepsy
Patchliner publication in Neurobiology of Disease (2014)
Oliva M.K., McGarr T.C., Beyer B.J., Gazina E., Kaplan D.I., Cordeiro L., Thomas E., Dib-Hajj S.D., Waxman S.G., Frankel W.N., Petrou S.
Neurobiol Dis (2014) 67:180-90
In excitatory neurons, SCN2A (NaV1.2) and SCN8A (NaV1.6) sodium channels are enriched at the axon initial segment. NaV1.6 is implicated in several mouse models of absence epilepsy, including a missense mutation identified in a chemical mutagenesis screen (Scn8aV929F). Here, we confirmed the prior suggestion that Scn8aV929F exhibits a striking genetic background-dependent difference in phenotypic severity, observing that spike-wave discharge (SWD) incidence and severity are significantly diminished when Scn8aV929F is fully placed onto the C57BL/6J strain compared with C3H. Examination of sequence differences in NaV subunits between these two inbred strains suggested NaV1.2V752F as a potential source of this modifier effect. Recognising that the spatial co-localisation of the NaV channels at the axon initial segment (AIS) provides a plausible mechanism for functional interaction, we tested this idea by undertaking biophysical characterisation of the variant NaV channels and by computer modelling. NaV1.2V752F functional analysis revealed an overall gain-of-function and for NaV1.6V929F revealed an overall loss-of-function. A biophysically realistic computer model was used to test the idea that interaction between these variant channels at the AIS contributes to the strain background effect. Surprisingly this modelling showed that neuronal excitability is dominated by the properties of NaV1.2V752F due to “functional silencing” of NaV1.6V929F suggesting that these variants do not directly interact. Consequent genetic mapping of the major strain modifier to Chr 7, and not Chr 2 where Scn2a maps, supported this biophysical prediction. While a NaV1.6V929F loss of function clearly underlies absence seizures in this mouse model, the strain background effect is apparently not due to an otherwise tempting Scn2a variant, highlighting the value of combining physiology and genetics to inform and direct each other when interrogating genetic complex traits such as absence epilepsy.