Infantile-onset myoclonic developmental and epileptic encephalopathy: A new RARS2 phenotype

Epilepsia Open. 2022 Mar;7(1):170-180. doi: 10.1002/epi4.12553. Epub 2021 Nov 18.


Recessive variants in RARS2, a nuclear gene encoding a mitochondrial protein, were initially reported in pontocerebellar hypoplasia. Subsequently, a recessive RARS2 early-infantile (<12 weeks) developmental and epileptic encephalopathy was described with hypoglycaemia and lactic acidosis. Here, we describe two unrelated patients with a novel RARS2 phenotype and reanalyse the published RARS2 epilepsy phenotypes and variants. Our novel cases had infantile-onset myoclonic developmental and epileptic encephalopathy, presenting with a progressive movement disorder from 9 months on a background of normal development. Development plateaued and regressed thereafter, with mild to profound impairment. Multiple drug-resistant generalized and focal seizures occurred with episodes of non-convulsive status epilepticus. Seizure types included absence, atonic, myoclonic, and focal seizures. Electroencephalograms showed diffuse slowing, multifocal, and generalised spike-wave activity, activated by sleep. Both patients had compound heterozygous RARS2 variants with likely impact on splicing and transcription. Remarkably, of the now 52 RARS2 variants reported in 54 patients, our reanalysis found that 44 (85%) have been shown to or are predicted to affect splicing or gene expression leading to protein truncation or nonsense-mediated decay. We expand the RARS2 phenotypic spectrum to include infantile encephalopathy and suggest this gene is enriched for pathogenic variants that disrupt splicing.

Keywords: RARS2; developmental and epileptic encephalopathy; epilepsy; infantile; movement disorder; myoclonic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arginine-tRNA Ligase* / genetics
  • Brain Diseases* / genetics
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy*
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Seizures / genetics


  • Arginine-tRNA Ligase
  • RARS2 protein, human

Associated data

  • RefSeq/NM_020320.5