Analysis of gene variants in the GASH/Sal model of epilepsy

PLoS One. 2020 Mar 13;15(3):e0229953. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0229953. eCollection 2020.


Epilepsy is a complex neurological disorder characterized by sudden and recurrent seizures, which are caused by various factors, including genetic abnormalities. Several animal models of epilepsy mimic the different symptoms of this disorder. In particular, the genetic audiogenic seizure hamster from Salamanca (GASH/Sal) animals exhibit sound-induced seizures similar to the generalized tonic seizures observed in epileptic patients. However, the genetic alterations underlying the audiogenic seizure susceptibility of the GASH/Sal model remain unknown. In addition, gene variations in the GASH/Sal might have a close resemblance with those described in humans with epilepsy, which is a prerequisite for any new preclinical studies that target genetic abnormalities. Here, we performed whole exome sequencing (WES) in GASH/Sal animals and their corresponding controls to identify and characterize the mutational landscape of the GASH/Sal strain. After filtering the results, moderate- and high-impact variants were validated by Sanger sequencing, assessing the possible impact of the mutations by "in silico" reconstruction of the encoded proteins and analyzing their corresponding biological pathways. Lastly, we quantified gene expression levels by RT-qPCR. In the GASH/Sal model, WES showed the presence of 342 variations, in which 21 were classified as high-impact mutations. After a full bioinformatics analysis to highlight the high quality and reliable variants, the presence of 3 high-impact and 15 moderate-impact variants were identified. Gene expression analysis of the high-impact variants of Asb14 (ankyrin repeat and SOCS Box Containing 14), Msh3 (MutS Homolog 3) and Arhgef38 (Rho Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factor 38) genes showed a higher expression in the GASH/Sal than in control hamsters. In silico analysis of the functional consequences indicated that those mutations in the three encoded proteins would have severe functional alterations. By functional analysis of the variants, we detected 44 significantly enriched pathways, including the glutamatergic synapse pathway. The data show three high-impact mutations with a major impact on the function of the proteins encoded by these genes, although no mutation in these three genes has been associated with some type of epilepsy until now. Furthermore, GASH/Sal animals also showed gene variants associated with different types of epilepsy that has been extensively documented, as well as mutations in other genes that encode proteins with functions related to neuronal excitability, which could be implied in the phenotype of the GASH/Sal. Our findings provide valuable genetic and biological pathway data associated to the genetic burden of the audiogenic seizure susceptibility and reinforce the need to validate the role of each key mutation in the phenotype of the GASH/Sal model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Computational Biology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Reflex / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy, Reflex / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy, Reflex / genetics
  • Epilepsy, Reflex / pathology
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MutS Homolog 3 Protein / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Seizures / epidemiology*
  • Seizures / genetics
  • Seizures / pathology


  • Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors
  • MSH3 protein, human
  • MutS Homolog 3 Protein

Grant support

This study was supported by the Spanish JCyL cofinanced with the European Union FEDER funds 2017 (#SA023A12-2) to D. E. López