Monday, March 30, 2020

BRAT1 encephalopathy

Scheffer IE, Boysen KE, Schneider AL, Myers CT, Mehaffey MG, Rochtus AM, Yuen YP, Ronen GM, Chak WK, Gill D, Poduri A, Mefford HC. BRAT1 encephalopathy: a recessive cause of epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2019 Dec 23. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.14428. [Epub ahead of print]

Epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS), one of the most severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathy syndromes, is characterized by seizures that migrate from one hemisphere to the other. EIMFS is genetically heterogeneous with 33 genes. We report five patients with EIMFS caused by recessive BRAT1 variants, identified via next generation sequencing. Recessive pathogenic variants in BRAT1 cause the rigidity and multifocal seizure syndrome, lethal neonatal with hypertonia, microcephaly, and intractable multifocal seizures. The epileptology of BRAT1 encephalopathy has not been well described. All five patients were profoundly impaired with seizure onset in the first week of life and focal seizure migration between hemispheres. We show that BRAT1 is an important recessive cause of EIMFS with onset in the first week of life, profound impairment, and early death. Early recognition of this genetic aetiology will inform management and reproductive counselling.

Burgess R, Wang S, McTague A, Boysen KE, Yang X, Zeng Q, Myers KA, Rochtus A, Trivisano M, Gill D; EIMFS Consortium, Sadleir LG, Specchio N, Guerrini R, Marini C, Zhang YH, Mefford HC, Kurian MA, Poduri AH, Scheffer IE. The Genetic Landscape of Epilepsy of Infancy with Migrating Focal Seizures. Ann Neurol. 2019 Dec;86(6):821-831. doi: 10.1002/ana.25619.


Epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS) is one of the most severe developmental and epileptic encephalopathies. We delineate the genetic causes and genotype-phenotype correlations of a large EIMFS cohort.

Phenotypic and molecular data were analyzed on patients recruited through an international collaborative study.

We ascertained 135 patients from 128 unrelated families. Ninety-three of 135 (69%) had causative variants (42/55 previously reported) across 23 genes, including 9 novel EIMFS genes: de novo dominant GABRA1, GABRB1, ATP1A3; X-linked CDKL5, PIGA; and recessive ITPA, AIMP1, KARS, WWOX. The most frequently implicated genes were KCNT1 (36/135, 27%) and SCN2A (10/135, 7%). Mosaicism occurred in 2 probands (SCN2A, GABRB3) and 3 unaffected mothers (KCNT1). Median age at seizure onset was 4 weeks, with earlier onset in the SCN2A, KCNQ2, and BRAT1 groups. Epileptic spasms occurred in 22% patients. A total of 127 patients had severe to profound developmental impairment. All but 7 patients had ongoing seizures. Additional features included microcephaly, movement disorders, spasticity, and scoliosis. Mortality occurred in 33% at median age 2 years 7 months.

We identified a genetic cause in 69% of patients with EIMFS. We highlight the genetic heterogeneity of EIMFS with 9 newly implicated genes, bringing the total number to 33. Mosaicism was observed in probands and parents, carrying critical implications for recurrence risk. EIMFS pathophysiology involves diverse molecular processes from gene and protein regulation to ion channel function and solute trafficking.

Szymańska K, Laure-Kamionowska M, Szczałuba K, et al. Clinico-pathological correlation in case of BRAT1 mutation. Folia Neuropathol. 2018;56(4):362–371. doi:10.5114/fn.2018.80870

The clinical picture of BRCA1-associated protein required for ATM activation-1 (BRAT1) comprises retractable early-onset epileptic encephalopathy, progressive microcephaly, and early demise. Both, inter- and intrafamilial variations of features of BRAT1-associated disease have been described. Here, the familial case of a brother and sister with homozygous pathogenic variants in BRAT1 is presented with special emphasis on differences in seizure type/onset and central nervous system lesions. The neuropathology is extensively discussed and hypotheses put forward that may shed light on etiology of brain symptomatology within the context of BRAT1 mutations.

Horn D, Weschke B, Knierim E, et al. BRAT1 mutations are associated with infantile epileptic encephalopathy, mitochondrial dysfunction, and survival into childhood. Am J Med Genet A. 2016;170(9):2274–2281. doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.37798

We describe two siblings who were affected with early onset focal seizures, severe progressive postnatal microcephaly, muscular hypertonia, feeding problems and bouts of apnea, only minimal psychomotor development, as well as death in infancy and childhood. We identified compound heterozygous mutations in BRAT1 exons 5 (c.638_639insA) and 8 (c.1134+1G>A) in one affected child via next-generation sequencing of the disease-associated genome followed by phenotype-driven bioinformatic analysis. Sanger sequencing confirmed the presence of these mutations in both patients and a heterozygote status of the parents. Whereas the frameshift mutation (c.638_639insA) has been described in one family, the splice-site mutation (c.1134+1G>A) is novel. In contrast to all cases published so far, one of our patients showed a considerably milder clinical course with survival into childhood. Investigation of a skeletal muscle biopsy showed a severely reduced COX enzyme histochemical staining, indicating mitochondrial dysfunction. Our data expand the clinical and mutational spectrum of the BRAT1-associated phenotype.

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