Heterotrimeric G proteins, composed of α, β, and γ subunits, can transduce a variety of signals from seven-transmembrane-type receptors to intracellular effectors. By whole-exome sequencing and subsequent mutation screening, we identified de novo heterozygous mutations in GNAO1, which encodes a Gαo subunit of heterotrimeric G proteins, in four individuals with epileptic encephalopathy. Two of the affected individuals also showed involuntary movements. Somatic mosaicism (approximately 35% to 50% of cells, distributed across multiple cell types, harbored the mutation) was shown in one individual. By mapping the mutation onto three-dimensional models of the Gα subunit in three different complexed states, we found that the three mutants (c.521A>G [p.Asp174Gly], c.836T>A [p.Ile279Asn], and c.572_592del [p.Thr191_Phe197del]) are predicted to destabilize the Gα subunit fold. A fourth mutant (c.607G>A), in which the Gly203 residue located within the highly conserved switch II region is substituted to Arg, is predicted to impair GTP binding and/or activation of downstream effectors, although the p.Gly203Arg substitution might not interfere with Gα binding to G-protein-coupled receptors. Transient-expression experiments suggested that localization to the plasma membrane was variably impaired in the three putatively destabilized mutants. Electrophysiological analysis showed that Gαo-mediated inhibition of calcium currents by norepinephrine tended to be lower in three of the four Gαo mutants. These data suggest that aberrant Gαo signaling can cause multiple neurodevelopmental phenotypes, including epileptic encephalopathy and involuntary movements.
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