February 27, 2021

Severe deficiency of voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.2 elevates neuronal excitability in adult mice

Scn2a encodes voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.2, which mediates neuronal firing. The current paradigm suggests that NaV1.2 gain-of-function variants enhance neuronal excitability resulting in epilepsy, whereas NaV1.2 deficiency impairs neuronal excitability contributing to autism. In this paradigm, however, why about a third of patients with NaV1.2 deficiency still develop seizures remains a mystery. Here we challenge the conventional wisdom, reporting that neuronal excitability is increased with severe NaV1.2 deficiency. Using a unique gene-trap knockout mouse model of Scn2a, we found enhanced intrinsic excitabilities of principal neurons in the cortico-striatal circuit, known to be involved in Scn2a-related seizures. This increased excitability is autonomous, and is reversible by genetic restoration of Scn2a expression in adult mice. Mechanistic investigation reveals a compensatory downregulation of potassium channels including KV1.1, which could be targeted to alleviate neuronal hyperexcitability. Our unexpected findings may explain NaV1.2 deficiency-related epileptic seizures in humans and provide molecular targets for potential interventions.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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