Background: Variants in ion channel genes have classically been studied in low throughput by patch clamping. Deep mutational scanning is a complementary approach that can simultaneously assess function of thousands of variants.
Methods: We have developed and validated a method to perform a deep mutational scan of variants in SCN5A, which encodes the major voltage-gated sodium channel in the heart. We created a library of nearly all possible variants in a 36 base region of SCN5A in the S4 voltage sensor of domain IV and stably integrated the library into HEK293T cells.
Results: In preliminary experiments, challenge with 3 drugs (veratridine, brevetoxin, and ouabain) could discriminate wild-type channels from gain- and loss-of-function pathogenic variants. High-throughput sequencing of the pre- and postdrug challenge pools was used to count the prevalence of each variant and identify variants with abnormal function. The deep mutational scan scores identified 40 putative gain-of-function and 33 putative loss-of-function variants. For 8 of 9 variants, patch clamping data were consistent with the scores.
Conclusions: These experiments demonstrate the accuracy of a high-throughput in vitro scan of SCN5A variant function, which can be used to identify deleterious variants in SCN5A and other ion channel genes.
Keywords: Brugada syndrome; humans; long QT syndrome; prevalence; sodium channels.