Purpose: Neurexins are neuronal adhesion molecules located in the presynaptic terminal, where they interact with postsynaptic neuroligins to form a transsynaptic complex required for efficient neurotransmission in the brain. Recently, deletions and point mutations of the neurexin 1 (NRXN1) gene have been associated with a broad spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders. This study aimed to investigate if NRXN1 deletions also increase the risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs).
Methods: We screened for deletions involving the NRXN1 gene in 1,569 patients with IGE and 6,201 controls using high-density oligonucleotide microarrays.
Key findings: We identified exon-disrupting deletions of NRXN1 in 5 of 1,569 patients with IGE and 2 of 6,201 control individuals (p = 0.0049; odds ratio (OR) 9.91, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.92-51.12). A complex familial segregation pattern in the IGE families was observed, suggesting that heterozygous NRXN1 deletions are susceptibility variants. Intriguingly, we identified a second large copy number variant in three of five index patients, supporting an involvement of heterogeneous susceptibility alleles in the etiology of IGE.
Significance: We conclude that exon-disrupting deletions of NRXN1 represent a genetic risk factor in the genetically complex predisposition of common IGE syndromes.
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2012 International League Against Epilepsy.