Exome sequencing has readily enabled the discovery of the genetic mutations responsible for a wide range of diseases. This success has been particularly remarkable in the severe epilepsies and other neurodevelopmental diseases for which rare, often de novo, mutations play a significant role in disease risk. Despite significant progress, the high genetic heterogeneity of these disorders often requires large sample sizes to identify a critical mass of individuals with disease-causing mutations in a single gene. By pooling genetic findings across multiple studies, we have identified six individuals with severe developmental delay (6/6), refractory seizures (5/6), and similar dysmorphic features (3/6), each harboring a de novo mutation in PPP3CA. PPP3CA encodes the alpha isoform of a subunit of calcineurin. Calcineurin encodes a calcium- and calmodulin-dependent serine/threonine protein phosphatase that plays a role in a wide range of biological processes, including being a key regulator of synaptic vesicle recycling at nerve terminals. Five individuals with de novo PPP3CA mutations were identified among 4,760 trio probands with neurodevelopmental diseases; this is highly unlikely to occur by chance (p = 1.2 × 10-8) given the size and mutability of the gene. Additionally, a sixth individual with a de novo mutation in PPP3CA was connected to this study through GeneMatcher. Based on these findings, we securely implicate PPP3CA in early-onset refractory epilepsy and further support the emerging role for synaptic dysregulation in epilepsy.
Keywords: PPP3CA; calcineurin; de novo mutation; developmental and epileptic encephalopathy; epilepsy.
Copyright © 2017 American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.