KCTD7 deficiency defines a distinct neurodegenerative disorder with a conserved autophagy-lysosome defect

Ann Neurol. 2018 Nov;84(5):766-780. doi: 10.1002/ana.25351. Epub 2018 Nov 8.


Objective: Several small case series identified KCTD7 mutations in patients with a rare autosomal recessive disorder designated progressive myoclonic epilepsy (EPM3) and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CLN14). Despite the name KCTD (potassium channel tetramerization domain), KCTD protein family members lack predicted channel domains. We sought to translate insight gained from yeast studies to uncover disease mechanisms associated with deficiencies in KCTD7 of unknown function.

Methods: Novel KCTD7 variants in new and published patients were assessed for disease causality using genetic analyses, cell-based functional assays of patient fibroblasts and knockout yeast, and electron microscopy of patient samples.

Results: Patients with KCTD7 mutations can exhibit movement disorders or developmental regression before seizure onset, and are distinguished from similar disorders by an earlier age of onset. Although most published KCTD7 patient variants were excluded from a genome sequence database of normal human variations, most newly identified patient variants are present in this database, potentially challenging disease causality. However, genetic analysis and impaired biochemical interactions with cullin 3 support a causal role for patient KCTD7 variants, suggesting deleterious alleles of KCTD7 and other rare disease variants may be underestimated. Both patient-derived fibroblasts and yeast lacking Whi2 with sequence similarity to KCTD7 have impaired autophagy consistent with brain pathology.

Interpretation: Biallelic KCTD7 mutations define a neurodegenerative disorder with lipofuscin and lipid droplet accumulation but without defining features of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis or lysosomal storage disorders. KCTD7 deficiency appears to cause an underlying autophagy-lysosome defect conserved in yeast, thereby assigning a biological role for KCTD7. Ann Neurol 2018;84:774-788.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Autophagy / genetics*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lysosomes / genetics*
  • Lysosomes / pathology
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Pedigree
  • Potassium Channels / deficiency*
  • Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics


  • KCTD7 protein, human
  • Potassium Channels
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Whi2 protein, S cerevisiae