Genetic Variation in the Voltage-gated Potassium Channel Genes KCNV2 and KCNB1 Contributes to Epilepsy Susceptibility
Jorge, Benjamin S.
Epilepsy is a common neurological disease characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate seizures. Although multiple factors contribute to epilepsy, the majority of cases are genetic in origin. Variable expressivity is commonly observed in families with inherited mutations in epilepsy-associated genes, suggesting that variation in genetic modifiers may contribute to epilepsy phenotypes. We previously identified the modulatory voltage-gated potassium channel subunit, Kcnv2, as a candidate modifier gene in a transgenic mouse model of epilepsy. This dissertation outlines: the validation of Kcnv2 as a quantitative modifier of epilepsy in mice; the identification of KCNV2 variants in pediatric epilepsy patients; the determination of Kcnv2 regulatory regions; and the identification of mutations in a delayed-rectifier potassium channel gene, KCNB1, in individuals with epileptic encephalopathy. These studies highlight the importance of delayed-rectifier potassium current in governing neuronal excitability and demonstrate the utility of identifying and characterizing genetic modifiers to elucidate mechanisms of pathogenesis.