Dysfunctional ADAM22 implicated in progressive encephalopathy with cortical atrophy and epilepsy

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Abstract

Objective:

To identify the molecular genetic basis of a syndrome characterized by rapidly progressing cerebral atrophy, intractable seizures, and intellectual disability.

Methods:

We performed exome sequencing in the proband and whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping (copy number variant analysis) in the proband-parent trio. We used heterologous expression systems to study the functional consequences of identified mutations.

Results:

The search for potentially deleterious recessive or de novo variants yielded compound heterozygous missense (c.1202G>A, p.Cys401Tyr) and frameshift deletion (c.2396delG, p.Ser799IlefsTer96) mutations in ADAM22, which encodes a postsynaptic receptor for LGI1. The deleterious effect of the mutations was observed in cell surface binding and immunoprecipitation assays, which revealed that both mutant proteins failed to bind to LGI1. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation assays showed that the frameshift mutant ADAM22 also did not bind to the postsynaptic scaffolding protein PSD-95.

Conclusions:

The mutations identified abolish the LGI1-ADAM22 ligand-receptor complex and are thus a likely primary cause of the proband's epilepsy syndrome, which is characterized by unusually rapidly progressing cortical atrophy starting at 3–4 months of age. These findings are in line with the implicated role of the LGI1-ADAM22 complex as a key player in nervous system development, specifically in functional maturation of postnatal synapses. Because the frameshift mutation affects an alternatively spliced exon with highest expression in postnatal brain, the combined effect of the mutations is likely to be hypomorphic rather than complete loss of function. This is compatible with the longer survival of the patient compared to Lgi1−/− and Adam22−/− mice, which develop lethal seizures during the first postnatal weeks.

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