Call for collaborative genetic research on rare and complex epilepsies.

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One of the missions of the ERN EpiCARE is to promote clinical research and the production of cross-border collaborative work on genetic epilepsies. Our field is confronted with an extremely large number of new genes, for which the clinical spectrum and/or natural history is often barely known; usually, the number of patients published is limited to a handful, their recruitment may be strongly biased towards a few clinical features, and their clinical description is often limited.

Through this section, we share the opportunity of collaborative calls for European series of patients carrying variants in already known genes but with limited knowledge that need to be expanded.

The main aim of this initiative is to recruit cohorts of patients carrying rare variants in genes without a well-defined phenotypic spectrum, where single centre studies would not yield significant series. EpiCARE can facilitate this type of studies by connecting several centers across Europe involved in the study of genetic epilepsies.

The principle behind this initiative is simple:

  • Any EpiCARE member can submit a call for collaboration on a gene, a group of functionally-related genes, a copy number variant or a specific phenotype/genotype.
  • The call is shared across all EpiCARE members and remains open for 6 months.
  • These calls are not necessarily based on basic or translational research, but require that the project leader already has data on at least 2 or 3 unrelated patients.
  • The project leader is committed to bring this work to completion (at least one publication), and to keep the EpiCARE committee informed of the progress of the work.
  • EpiCARE’s role as facilitator will be acknowledged in the publication.

You will find the submission template both here, or on the EpiCARE Genetic Epilepsies Platform
Please follow the instructions in the template and send it back to Sébile Tchaicha, EpiCARE research manager. She will contact you after review of the project. 

If you are instead interested in collaborative research on novel genes within the EpiCARE community, please use the EpiCARE Genetic Epilepsies Platform that has been developed specifically for this purpose.

Please find below the list of current calls 

  • Short title

Clinical and functional characterization of GRIA-related disorders: translating genetic diagnostics into personalized treatment

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study 

GRIA1 (#138248), GRIA2 (#618917), GRIA3 (#300699), and GRIA4 (#617864)

  • Summary 

GRIA genes encode AMPAR receptors which are important for the function of excitatory neurons. Disease-causing variants in GRIA, GRIA2, GRIA3, and GRIA4 cause a neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) with mild-profound developmental and cognitive impairment, behavioral difficulties, early-onset and treatment-resistant seizures. Only few patients have been reported leaving phenotypical spectrum and genotype-phenotype correlations ill-defined.

We want to:

  1. collect clinical data from patients with rare GRIA variants in order to establish a database of high-quality genetic and clinical data sets.
  2. Systematically evaluate the impact of GRIA variants on key parameters of AMPAR function using a combination of biochemical and functional assays and advanced electrophysiology to pinpoint exact phenotypical mutational impact on AMPAR molecular function and classify pathogenicity of variants.
  3. Analyze correlations between patient disease phenotypes and specific effects on receptor function to establish genotype-phenotype patterns and perform pilot experiments to explore options for rescue pharmacology using existing AMPAR drugs.
  • Coordinating clinician: Allan Bayat
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): Department of Epilepsy Genetics and Personalized Medicine. Danish Epilepsy Centre Filadelfia, Dianalund, Denmark
  • Contact email: abaya@filadelfia.dk, bayabayabayat@hotmail.com
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data 
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: N
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? Y
  • Short title

Adult phenotype of CDKL5 deficiency disorder

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study  

CDKL5

  • Summary

Pathogenic variants in the cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 (CDKL5, Xp22.13) gene are the cause of CDKL5 deficiency disorder (CDD) and one of the main etiologies of genetic epilepsy, with an estimated  birth prevalence around 1 in 40,000. While the phenotype and evolution of the CDD-related developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE) is well characterized during the first years of life, the adult phenotype is not yet fully understood. It is known that other genetic DEEs show specific adult phenotypes, such as parkinsonism in Dravet syndrome or psychotic features in PCDH19-DEE, apart from the epilepsy evolution. The aim of this project is to characterize the adult phenotype of patients with CDD. Comprehensive clinical data, as well as EEG raw data, will be collected and evaluated.

  • Coordinating clinician: Angel Aledo-Serrano MD PhD; Rikke Moller PhD
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): Epilepsy Genetics; Danish Epilepsy Center, Dianalund, Danemark
  • Contact email: aaledo@neurologiaclinica.es; rimo@filadelfia.dk
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data:
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: N
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? N
  • Short title

Genetic and clinical characterization of patients with microdeletions of KCNQ2 and EEF1A2

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study (to be quoted in the newsletter):

KCNQ2 + EEF1A2

  • Summary 

We aim at describing the clinical (epilepsy, neurodevelopmental,…) and EEG phenotype of patients with a microdeletion (CNV loss) including both KCNQ2 and EEF1A2 We need precise CNV coordinates, family history and parental genetic testing if available.

  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data :
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: N
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? N
  • Short title

Genetic and environmental modifiers associated with KCNQ2-related disorders

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study

 KCNQ2 (OMIM: 613720 and 121200; ORPHA: 439218)

  • Summary (1000 characters max)

KCNQ2 encodes for a voltage gated potassium channel subunit that has a critical role in controlling neuronal excitability. KCNQ2-related disorders are associated with a spectrum of phenotypes ranging from self-limiting (familial) neonatal epilepsy at the mild end to developmental and epileptic encephalopathy at the severe end. Neonatal seizures are the main features, but patients without neonatal seizures are described. Although phenotype-genotype correlations are good, phenotypic variability exists even among carriers of recurrent variants.

We hypothesize that some of the phenotypic variability in KCNQ2-related disorders can be explained by the existence of genetic and environmental modifiers. By identifying these modifiers, we hope to improve counseling for individual patients, and to identify biological pathways that can be targeted by novel disease-modifying treatment strategies.

In this study, all patients with a proven pathogenic KCNQ2 variant can be included after signature of an informed consent document. Detailed clinical data on all participants will be collected through the treating (child) neurologist, in addition to a DNA aliquot.

  • Coordinating clinician: Sarah Weckhuysen
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): Department of neurology, University Hospital of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Contact email: sarah.weckhuysen@uantwerpen.vib.be
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data :
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: Y
    • Resampling of patients: Y (not needed if an aliquot of DNA is already available and can be shared)
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? Y
  • Short title

SLC35A2-related epilepsy: specific electroclinical features

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study

 SLC35A2

  • Summary 

Pathogenic de novo variants in the X-linked gene SLC35A2 encoding the major Golgi-localized UDP-galactose transporter cause a rare type of congenital disorder of glycosylation known as SLC35A2-congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG). In addition, somatic mutations in this gene has been implicated in pathogenesis of some types of malformations of cortical development (Mild malformation of cortical development with oligodendroglial hyperplasia and epilepsy - MOGHE). Patients with germline mutations in SLC35A2 present a severe neurodevelopmental disorser, frequently associated with epilepsy and different degrees of systemic comorbidities, and galactose supplementation might be useful for their treatment. However, the specific electroclinical syndrome of this patient has not specificly establish yet and studies on this topic are scarce. The aim of this project is to characterize the specific epilepsy phenotype of patients with mutations in SLC35A2, their differences with patients with MOGHE, and their response to treatments, including galactose supplementation. Comprehensive clinical data, as well as EEG raw data, will be collected and evaluated.

  • Coordinating clinician: Angel Aledo-Serrano MD PhD; Rikke Moller PhD
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): Epilepsy Genetics; Danish Epilepsy Center, Dianalund, Danemark
  • Contact email: aaledo@neurologiaclinica.es; rimo@filadelfia.dk
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data:
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: N
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? N
  • Short title

clinical and genetic description of a cohort of patients with RORA pathogenic variants (CN, SNV, indels, SV)    

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study

All neurodevelopmental phenotypes related to RORA  (OMIM # 600825)

  • Summary 

Based on our previous collaborative study demonstrating the role of RORA pathogenic variants in neurodevelopmental disorders, including epilepsy (PMID: 29656859) we are willing to collect a large cohort of patients to describe the clinical features (including EEG features and brain MRI) and the genetic variants to better delineate this condition.

  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data:
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: for segregation studies (parents) if not done. We would be interested to get the DICOM files for brain MRI.
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? N
  • Short title

Genotype-phenotype characterization of GABAAR-related epilepsies: translating genetic diagnostics into personalized treatment  

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study

GABRA1 (#137160), GABRA2 (#137140), GABRA3 (#305660), GABRA5 (#137142), GABRB2 (#600232), GABRB3 (#137192), GABRG2 (#137164), GABRD (#137163)

  • Summary 

GABA-A receptor (GABAAR) gene family encode for the major inhibitory ion channels of the mammalian brain. Recently, a large number of pathogenic variants has been identified in GABRA1, GABRA2, GABRA3, GABRA5, GABRB2, GABRB3, GABRG2 and GABRD that causes developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (DEE).

  • Aims

1.to establish specific correlations between phenotype, genotype, functional effects and therapeutic response of patients with GABAAR variants to translate genetic diagnostics into treatment;

2.to determine the pathogenicity of selected variants, classify these into loss and gain of function variants in order to define whether GABAergic drugs could be used or not.

  • Coordinating clinician: Alessandra Rossi, MD, and Rikke Steensbjerre Møller, Professor, PhD
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): Department of Epilepsy Genetics and Personalized Medicine. Danish Epilepsy Centre Filadelfia, Dianalund, Denmark
  • Contact email: alesross@hotmail.comrimo@filadelfia.dk   
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data:
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: N
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? Y
  • Short title

Sunflower syndrome

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study

no OMIM or ORPHA code, causative gene(s) unknown.

“Sunflower syndrome is a rare photosensitive epilepsy characterized by highly stereotyped seizures. Patients with Sunflower syndrome look toward a light source, often the sun, and wave one hand with abducted fingers in front of their face. Often, there is associated eye fluttering or blinking during these episodes. Additionally, these handwaving episodes can occasionally evolve into other seizure types including generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Unfortunately, these handwaving episodes are often initially misdiagnosed as tics or behaviors associated with obsessive–compulsive disorder.” (Geenen et al., 2020, Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 2021, 63: 259–262)

  • Summary 

Together with the group of professor Kluger (Austria), professor Striano (Italy) and professor Lagae (Belgium); we are aiming to create awareness of Sunflower syndrome in Europe and the UK (and beyond). Moreover, we are aiming to unravel a potential genetic basis of this highly stereotyped epilepsy syndrome.

We would first start with a short questionnaire (for (the parents of) the person with Sunflower syndrome) to evaluate which medicines are effective. This questionnaire has been recently updated and could be assessed via the following link:   https://redcap.patre.info/surveys/?s=N9EHWLED9A

If we would be able to bring enough patients and/or their parents together and gather their contact details, we would then perform a larger questionnaire (conform with PATRE and NETRE, Network for Therapy in Rare Epilepsies (NETRE): Lessons From the Past 15 Years. Front Neurol. 2021 Jan 14;11:622510. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.622510. PMID: 33519703).

  • Coordinating clinician: Sunflower syndrome research group: professor Kluger, professor Striano and professor Lagae.
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): multiple departments in/outside Europe:
    • prof Lagae: Department of Development and Regeneration, Division of Locomotor and Neurological Disorders (University of Leuven, KU Leuven, Belgium)
    • prof Striano: Pediatric Neurology and Muscular Diseases Unit, IRCCS Istituto 'G. Gaslini', Italy; Department of Neurosciences, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics, Maternal and Child Health, University of Genova, Genova, Italy.
    • prof Kluger: Center for Pediatric Neurology, Neurorehabilitation and Epileptology, Schoen Klinik Vogtareuth, Vogtareuth, Germany.
  • Contact email: sunflower@patre.info
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data:
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: both are possible
    • Resampling of patients: both are possible
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? N
  • Short title

VARIA-ATP1A3 study

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study

ATP1A3/ all phenotypes (Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC) #614820, Rapid Onset Dystonia Parkinsonism (RDP) #128235, CAPOS #601338, Relapsing Encephalopathy with Cerebellar Ataxia (RECA), Developmental and Epileptic Encephalopathy #619606 etc.

  • Summary

ATP1A3 is associated with a broad neurological disorder spectrum. Out of 168 ATP1A3 variants published so far, 2/3 of published patients carry only 8 (c.2401G>A, c.2443G>A, c.2839G>A/C, c.2452G>A, c.1838C>T, c.2273T>G, c.2267G>A and c.2267G>T), for which there is clear genotype/phenotype correlation, as they are each associated with a specific phenotype (AHC/ RDP/ CAPOS/ RECA). We call these common variants.

It remains unknown whether genotype/phenotype correlation exists for the other (rare) variants, as for most only 1-2 patients have been described. This might be due to rarity or patients are not recognized as having an ATP1A3-related condition.

Within the International AHC Research Consortium we have started an online survey of the phenotypic characteristics of patients carrying rare ATP1A3 variants to:

  • establish the width of the ATP1A3-related disease spectrum;
  • establish if genotype/phenotype correlation exists for rare ATP1A3
  • establish a registry of patients with rare variants.

We would love to invite collaborators across the EPICARE network to join us in this effort and I am very happy to be contacted with any questions.

  • Coordinating clinician: Dr Aikaterini Vezyroglou
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): Neurology, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK
  • Contact email: k.vezyroglou@ucl.ac.uk
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data :
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: N
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? N
  • Short title

Phenotype and genotype characterization of patients with biallelic variants in GRM7    

  • Targeted gene(s)/phenotype under study

GRM7 (OMIM: 604101)

  • Summary

Only a few patients with bi-allelic variants of GRM7 have been reported so far. We have collected several patients and would like to increase the number of the series in order to better delineate the phenotype and the possible correlation between genotype and phenotype.

  • Coordinating clinician: Clotilde Rivier-Ringenbach
  • Institution (dept, hospital, city, country): University Hospital of Lyon  (HCL), Lyon, France
  • Contact email: gaetan.lesca@chu-lyon.fr 
  • Specific requirements beyond clinical and genotype data :
    • Re-analysis of DNA samples: N
    • Resampling of patients: N
    • Linked to a translational/basic research project? N

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