Mutations in the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway regulators NPRL2 and NPRL3 cause focal epilepsy

Ann Neurol. 2016 Jan;79(1):120-31. doi: 10.1002/ana.24547. Epub 2015 Dec 12.


Objective: Focal epilepsies are the most common form observed and have not generally been considered to be genetic in origin. Recently, we identified mutations in DEPDC5 as a cause of familial focal epilepsy. In this study, we investigated whether mutations in the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulators, NPRL2 and NPRL3, also contribute to cases of focal epilepsy.

Methods: We used targeted capture and next-generation sequencing to analyze 404 unrelated probands with focal epilepsy. We performed exome sequencing on two families with multiple members affected with focal epilepsy and linkage analysis on one of these.

Results: In our cohort of 404 unrelated focal epilepsy patients, we identified five mutations in NPRL2 and five in NPRL3. Exome sequencing analysis of two families with focal epilepsy identified NPRL2 and NPRL3 as the top candidate-causative genes. Some patients had focal epilepsy associated with brain malformations. We also identified 18 new mutations in DEPDC5.

Interpretation: We have identified NPRL2 and NPRL3 as two new focal epilepsy genes that also play a role in the mTOR-signaling pathway. Our findings show that mutations in GATOR1 complex genes are the most significant cause of familial focal epilepsy identified to date, including cases with brain malformations. It is possible that deregulation of cellular growth control plays a more important role in epilepsy than is currently recognized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsies, Partial / genetics*
  • Exome
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics*


  • DEPDC5 protein, human
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • NPRL2 protein, human
  • NPRL3 protein, human
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases