PRRT2 controls neuronal excitability by negatively modulating Na+ channel 1.2/1.6 activity

Brain. 2018 Apr 1;141(4):1000-1016. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy051.


See Lerche (doi:10.1093/brain/awy073) for a scientific commentary on this article.Proline-rich transmembrane protein 2 (PRRT2) is the causative gene for a heterogeneous group of familial paroxysmal neurological disorders that include seizures with onset in the first year of life (benign familial infantile seizures), paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia or a combination of both. Most of the PRRT2 mutations are loss-of-function leading to haploinsufficiency and 80% of the patients carry the same frameshift mutation (c.649dupC; p.Arg217Profs*8), which leads to a premature stop codon. To model the disease and dissect the physiological role of PRRT2, we studied the phenotype of neurons differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells from previously described heterozygous and homozygous siblings carrying the c.649dupC mutation. Single-cell patch-clamp experiments on induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons from homozygous patients showed increased Na+ currents that were fully rescued by expression of wild-type PRRT2. Closely similar electrophysiological features were observed in primary neurons obtained from the recently characterized PRRT2 knockout mouse. This phenotype was associated with an increased length of the axon initial segment and with markedly augmented spontaneous and evoked firing and bursting activities evaluated, at the network level, by multi-electrode array electrophysiology. Using HEK-293 cells stably expressing Nav channel subtypes, we demonstrated that the expression of PRRT2 decreases the membrane exposure and Na+ current of Nav1.2/Nav1.6, but not Nav1.1, channels. Moreover, PRRT2 directly interacted with Nav1.2/Nav1.6 channels and induced a negative shift in the voltage-dependence of inactivation and a slow-down in the recovery from inactivation. In addition, by co-immunoprecipitation assays, we showed that the PRRT2-Nav interaction also occurs in brain tissue. The study demonstrates that the lack of PRRT2 leads to a hyperactivity of voltage-dependent Na+ channels in homozygous PRRT2 knockout human and mouse neurons and that, in addition to the reported synaptic functions, PRRT2 is an important negative modulator of Nav1.2 and Nav1.6 channels. Given the predominant paroxysmal character of PRRT2-linked diseases, the disturbance in cellular excitability by lack of negative modulation of Na+ channels appears as the key pathogenetic mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axon Initial Segment / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Consanguinity
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • Membrane Potentials / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • NAV1.2 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / metabolism*
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / genetics
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / metabolism*
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein / genetics
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / genetics
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Siblings


  • Membrane Proteins
  • NANOG protein, human
  • NAV1.2 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • NAV1.6 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • PRRT2 protein, human
  • SCN8A protein, human
  • SOX1 protein, human
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors