Cellular and behavioral effects of altered NaV1.2 sodium channel ion permeability in Scn2aK1422E mice

Hum Mol Genet. 2022 Apr 13;ddac087. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddac087. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Genetic variants in SCN2A, encoding the NaV1.2 voltage-gated sodium channel, are associated with a range of neurodevelopmental disorders with overlapping phenotypes. Some variants fit into a framework wherein gain-of-function missense variants that increase neuronal excitability lead to developmental and epileptic encephalopathy, while loss-of-function variants that reduce neuronal excitability lead to intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder with or without co-morbid seizures. One unique case less easily classified using this framework is the de novo missense variant SCN2A-p.K1422E, associated with infant-onset developmental delay, infantile spasms, and features of autism spectrum disorder. Prior structure-function studies demonstrated that K1422E substitution alters ion selectivity of NaV1.2, conferring Ca2+ permeability, lowering overall conductance, and conferring resistance to tetrodotoxin (TTX). Based on heterologous expression of K1422E, we developed a compartmental neuron model incorporating variant channels that predicted reductions in peak action potential speed. We generated Scn2aK1422E mice and characterized effects on neurons and neurological/neurobehavioral phenotypes. Cultured cortical neurons from heterozygous Scn2aK1422E/+ mice exhibited lower current density with a TTX-resistant component and reversal potential consistent with mixed ion permeation. Recordings from Scn2aK1442E/+ cortical slices demonstrated impaired action potential initiation and larger Ca2+ transients at the axon initial segment during the rising phase of the action potential, suggesting complex effects on channel function. Scn2aK1422E/+ mice exhibited rare spontaneous seizures, interictal EEG abnormalities, altered induced seizure thresholds, reduced anxiety-like behavior and alterations in olfactory-guided social behavior. Overall, Scn2aK1422E/+ mice present with phenotypes similar yet distinct from other Scn2a models, consistent with complex effects of K1422E on NaV1.2 channel function.