GRIA-related disorders – a different side of glutamate receptor dysfunction

GRIA genes. This is the first time we are describing GRIA genes on this blog. GRIA genes, which include GRIA1, GRIA2, GRIA3, and GRIA4, encode the AMPA receptor, one of the two key channels in the process of glutamate neurotransmission. While GRIN genes, which encode the NMDA receptor, have been characterized much more extensively in the literature, GRIAs remain relatively under-characterized, even though their protein products are involved in a similar molecular process in the post-synapse in modulating excitatory synaptic transmission. Here, we provide a brief overview of the genetic and phenotypic range of GRIA-related disorders.

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Identifying the Doose gene – SLC6A1 mutations in Myoclonic Astatic Epilepsy

Doose Syndrome. In the early 1970s, a group of children with severe childhood epilepsies was found to have comparable clinical features that consisted of quick jerks and subsequent drop attacks amongst other types of epileptic seizures. These seizures, myoclonic-astatic or myoclonic-atonic seizures, eventually became the defining feature of an epilepsy syndrome referred to as Myoclonic Astatic Epilepsy or Doose Syndrome. In the recent issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, we report on the first true gene for Doose Syndrome. Here is the story of SLC6A1 (GAT-1). Continue reading

2B or not 2B – mutations in GRIN2B and Infantile Spasms

Year of the glutamate receptor. A few months ago we wrote a post about the triplet of Nature Genetics publications that established GRIN2A mutations as a cause of disorders within the epilepsy aphasia spectrum. GRIN2A codes for the NR2A subunit of the NMDA receptor, one of the most prominent neurotransmitter receptors in the Central Nervous System. Now, a recent paper in the Annals of Neurology reports mutations in the GRIN2B subunit as a cause of Infantile Spasms. Interestingly, the functional consequences of these mutations are completely different from GRIN2A-related epilepsies. Continue reading