SPTAN1 encephalopathy: distinct phenotypes and genotypes

J Hum Genet. 2015 Apr;60(4):167-73. doi: 10.1038/jhg.2015.5. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


Recent progress in genetic analysis reveals that a significant proportion of cryptogenic epileptic encephalopathies are single-gene disorders. Mutations in numerous genes for early-onset epileptic encephalopathies have been rapidly identified, including in SPTAN1, which encodes α-II spectrin. The aim of this review is to delineate SPTAN1 encephalopathy as a distinct clinical syndrome. To date, a total of seven epileptic patients with four different in-frame SPTAN1 mutations have been identified. The major clinical features of SPTAN1 mutations include epileptic encephalopathy with hypsarrhythmia, no visual attention, acquired microcephaly, spastic quadriplegia and severe intellectual disability. Brainstem and cerebellar atrophy and cerebral hypomyelination, as observed by magnetic resonance imaging, are specific hallmarks of this condition. A milder variant is characterized by generalized epilepsy with pontocerebellar atrophy. Only in-frame SPTAN1 mutations in the last two spectrin repeats in the C-terminal region lead to dominant negative effects and these specific phenotypes. The last two spectrin repeats are required for α/β spectrin heterodimer associations and the mutations can alter heterodimer formation between the two spectrins. From these data we suggest that SPTAN1 encephalopathy is a distinct clinical syndrome owing to specific SPTAN1 mutations. It is important that this syndrome is recognized by pediatric neurologists to enable proper diagnostic work-up for patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Spectrin / genetics
  • Spectrin / metabolism
  • Syndrome


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • fodrin
  • Spectrin