Biallelic GRM7 variants cause epilepsy, microcephaly, and cerebral atrophy

Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2020 May;7(5):610-627. doi: 10.1002/acn3.51003. Epub 2020 Apr 14.


Objective: Defects in ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors are implicated in developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE). Metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (mGluR7), encoded by GRM7, is a presynaptic G-protein-coupled glutamate receptor critical for synaptic transmission. We previously proposed GRM7 as a candidate disease gene in two families with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). One additional family has been published since. Here, we describe three additional families with GRM7 biallelic variants and deeply characterize the associated clinical neurological and electrophysiological phenotype and molecular data in 11 affected individuals from six unrelated families.

Methods: Exome sequencing and family-based rare variant analyses on a cohort of 220 consanguineous families with NDDs revealed three families with GRM7 biallelic variants; three additional families were identified through literature search and collaboration with a clinical molecular laboratory.

Results: We compared the observed clinical features and variants of 11 affected individuals from the six unrelated families. Identified novel deleterious variants included two homozygous missense variants (c.2671G>A:p.Glu891Lys and c.1973G>A:p.Arg685Gln) and one homozygous stop-gain variant (c.1975C>T:p.Arg659Ter). Developmental delay, neonatal- or infantile-onset epilepsy, and microcephaly were universal. Three individuals had hypothalamic-pituitary-axis dysfunction without pituitary structural abnormality. Neuroimaging showed cerebral atrophy and hypomyelination in a majority of cases. Two siblings demonstrated progressive loss of myelination by 2 years in both and an acquired microcephaly pattern in one. Five individuals died in early or late childhood.

Conclusion: Detailed clinical characterization of 11 individuals from six unrelated families demonstrates that rare biallelic GRM7 pathogenic variants can cause DEEs, microcephaly, hypomyelination, and cerebral atrophy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alleles
  • Atrophy / genetics
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Consanguinity
  • Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Microcephaly / genetics*
  • Microcephaly / pathology
  • Microcephaly / physiopathology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / genetics*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / pathology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / genetics*


  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor 7