Mutations in the alpha subunit of voltage-gated sodium channel 1.7 (NaV1.7), encoded by SCN9A gene, play an important role in the regulation of nociception and can lead to a wide range of clinical outcomes, ranging from extreme pain syndromes to congenital inability to experience pain. To expand the phenotypic and genotypic spectrum of SCN9A-related channelopathies, we describe the proband, a daughter born from consanguineous parents, who had pain insensitivity, diminished temperature sensation, foot burns, and severe loss of nociceptive nerve fibers in the epidermis. Next-generation sequencing of SCN9A (NM_002977.3) revealed a novel homozygous substitution (c.377+7T>G) in the donor splice site of intron 3. As the RNA functional testing is challenging, the in silico analysis is the first approach to predict possible alterations. In this case, the computational analysis was unable to identify the splicing consensus and could not provide any prediction for splicing defects. The affected intron indeed belongs to the U12 type, a family of introns characterised by noncanonical consensus at the splice sites, accounting only for 0.35% of all human introns, and is not included in most of the training sets for splicing prediction. A functional study on proband RNA showed different aberrant transcripts, where exon 3 was missing and an intron fragment was included. A quantification study using real-time polymerase chain reaction showed a significant reduction of the NaV1.7 canonical transcript. Collectively, these data widen the spectrum of SCN9A-related insensitivity to pain by describing a mutation causing NaV1.7 deficiency, underlying the nociceptor dysfunction, and highlight the importance of molecular investigation of U12 introns' mutations despite the silent prediction.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Pain.