Dominant mutations in the human gene GRIN2A, encoding NMDA receptor (NMDAR) subunit GluN2A, make a significant and growing contribution to the catalogue of published single-gene epilepsies. Understanding the disease mechanism in these epilepsy patients is complicated by the surprising diversity of effects that the mutations have on NMDARs. We have examined the cell-autonomous impact of 5 severe GluN2A mutations by measuring NMDAR-mediated synaptic currents (NMDAR-EPSCs) in CA1 pyramidal neurons following rescue with human GluN2A mutants. Surprisingly, prolonged NMDAR-EPSC current decay and smaller peak amplitudes were common features of both gain- and loss-of-function mutants despite there being drastic differences between their effects on receptor function and enrichment at synapses. Modelling of NMDARs with mutant properties in CA1 neurons indicates that mutant NMDARs may contribute to broadening of depolarizations during bursts of high-frequency synaptic activity. Overall, the implication is that similar therapeutic approaches may be more widely applicable to patients with GRIN2A-related disorders irrespective of their molecular defect.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience