Progressive myoclonus epilepsy is a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by myoclonic and tonic-clonic seizures, ataxia and cognitive decline. We here present two affected brothers. At 9 months of age the elder brother developed ataxia and myoclonic jerks. In his second year he lost the ability to walk and talk, and he developed drug-resistant progressive myoclonus epilepsy. The cerebrospinal fluid level of glutamate was decreased while glutamine was increased. His younger brother manifested similar symptoms from 6 months of age. By exome sequencing of the proband we identified a novel homozygous frameshift variant in the potassium channel tetramerization domain 7 (KCTD7) gene (NM_153033.1:c.696delT: p.F232fs), which results in a truncated protein. The identified F232fs variant is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, and the healthy consanguineous parents carry the variant in a heterozygous state. Bioinformatic analyses and structure modelling showed that KCTD7 is a highly conserved protein, structurally similar to KCTD5 and several voltage-gated potassium channels, and that it may form homo- or heteromultimers. By heterologous expression in Xenopus laevis oocytes, we demonstrate that wild-type KCTD7 hyperpolarizes cells in a K+ dependent manner and regulates activity of the neuronal glutamine transporter SAT2 (Slc38a2), while the F232fs variant impairs K+ fluxes and obliterates SAT2-dependent glutamine transport. Characterization of four additional disease-causing variants (R94W, R184C, N273I, Y276C) bolster these results and reveal the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of KCTD7-related progressive myoclonus epilepsy. Thus, our data demonstrate that KCTD7 has an impact on K+ fluxes, neurotransmitter synthesis and neuronal function, and that malfunction of the encoded protein may lead to progressive myoclonus epilepsy.
Keywords: BTB/POZ domain; KCTD7; Kv channel; PME; Slc38.
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