Objective: Early-onset epileptic encephalopathies have been associated with de novo mutations of numerous ion channel genes. We employed techniques of modern translational medicine to identify a disease-causing mutation, analyze its altered behavior, and screen for therapeutic compounds to treat the proband.
Methods: Three modern translational medicine tools were utilized: 1) high-throughput sequencing technology to identify a novel de novo mutation; 2) in vitro expression and electrophysiology assays to confirm the variant protein's dysfunction; and 3) screening of existing drug libraries to identify potential therapeutic compounds.
Results: A de novo GRIN2A missense mutation (c.2434C>A; p.L812M) increased the charge transfer mediated by NMDA receptors containing the mutant GluN2A-L812M subunit. In vitro analysis with NMDA receptor blockers indicated that GLuN2A-L812M-containing NMDARs retained their sensitivity to the use-dependent channel blocker memantine; while screening of a previously reported GRIN2A mutation (N615K) with these compounds produced contrasting results. Consistent with these data, adjunct memantine therapy reduced our proband's seizure burden.
Interpretation: This case exemplifies the potential for personalized genomics and therapeutics to be utilized for the early diagnosis and treatment of infantile-onset neurological disease.