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Sodium channel Nav1.2-L1342P variant displaying complex biophysical properties renders hyperexcitability of cortical neurons derived fromhuman iPSCs

By Zhefu Que, Maria I Olivero-Acosta, Jingliang Zhang, Muriel Eaton, William C. Skarnes, Yang Yang

Posted 19 Jan 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.01.18.427192

With the wide adoption of whole-exome sequencing in children having seizures, an increasing number of SCN2A variants has been revealed as possible genetic causes of epilepsy. Voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.2, encoded by gene SCN2A, is strongly expressed in the pyramidal excitatory neurons and supports action potential firing. One recurrent SCN2A variant is L1342P, which was identified in multiple patients with early-onset encephalopathy and intractable seizures. Our biophysical analysis and computational modeling predicted gain-of-function features of this epilepsy-associated Nav1.2 variant. However, the mechanism underlying L1342P mediated seizures and the pharmacogenetics of this variant in human neurons remain unknown. To understand the core phenotypes of the L1342P variant in human neurons, we took advantage of a reference human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) line, in which L1342P was engineered by CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome-editing. Using patch-clamping and micro-electrode array (MEA) recording, we found that the cortical neurons derived from hiPSCs carrying heterozygous L1342P variant presented significantly increased intrinsic excitability, higher sodium current density, and enhanced bursting and synchronous network firing, showing clear hyperexcitability phenotypes. Interestingly, the L1342P neuronal culture displayed a degree of resistance to the anti-seizure medication (phenytoin), which likely recapitulated aspects of clinical observation of patients carrying the L1342P variant. In contrast, phrixotoxin-3 (PTx3), a Nav1.2 isoform-specific blocker, was able to potently alleviate spontaneous and chemical-induced hyperexcitability of neurons carrying the L1342P variant. Our results reveal a possible pathogenic underpinning of Nav1.2-L1342P mediated epileptic seizures, and demonstrate the utility of genome-edited hiPSCs as an in vitro platform to advance personalized phenotyping and drug discovery.

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