Lanoue V, Chai YJ, Brouillet JZ, Weckhuysen S, Palmer EE, Collins BM, Meunier FA. STXBP1 encephalopathy: Connecting neurodevelopmental disorders with α-synucleinopathies? Neurology. 2019 Jul 16;93(3):114-123.
De novo pathogenic variants in STXBP1 encoding syntaxin1-binding protein (STXBP1, also known as Munc18-1) lead to a range of early-onset neurocognitive conditions, most commonly early infantile epileptic encephalopathy type 4 (EIEE4, also called STXBP1 encephalopathy), a severe form of epilepsy associated with developmental delay/intellectual disability. Other neurologic features include autism spectrum disorder and movement disorders. The progression of neurologic symptoms has been reported in a few older affected individuals, with the appearance of extrapyramidal features, reminiscent of early onset parkinsonism. Understanding the pathologic process is critical to improving therapies, as currently available antiepileptic drugs have shown limited success in controlling seizures in EIEE4 and there is no precision medication approach for the other neurologic features of the disorder. Basic research shows that genetic knockout of STXBP1 or other presynaptic proteins of the exocytic machinery leads to widespread perinatal neurodegeneration. The mechanism that regulates this effect is under scrutiny but shares intriguing hallmarks with classical neurodegenerative diseases, albeit appearing early during brain development. Most critically, recent evidence has revealed that STXBP1 controls the self-replicating aggregation of α-synuclein, a presynaptic protein involved in various neurodegenerative diseases that are collectively known as synucleinopathies, including Parkinson disease. In this review, we examine the tantalizing link among STXBP1 function, EIEE, and the neurodegenerative synucleinopathies, and suggest that neural development in EIEE could be further affected by concurrent synucleinopathic mechanisms.