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J Child Neurol. 2005 Apr;20(4):287-99.

Neuronal migration disorders, genetics, and epileptogenesis.

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Epilepsy, Neurophysiology and Neurogenetics Unit, Division of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Pisa and Research Institute, Stella Maris Foundation, Pisa, Italy.


Several malformation syndromes with abnormal cortical development have been recognized. Specific causative gene defects and characteristic electroclinical patterns have been identified for some. X-linked periventricular nodular heterotopia is mainly seen in female patients and is often associated with focal epilepsy. FLN1 mutations have been reported in all familial cases and in about 25% of sporadic patients. A rare recessive form of periventricular nodular heterotopia owing to ARGEF2 gene mutations has also been reported in children with microcephaly, severe delay, and early-onset seizures. Lissencephaly-pachygyria and subcortical band heterotopia represent a malformative spectrum resulting from mutations of either the LIS1 or the DCX (XLIS) gene. LIS1 mutations cause a more severe malformation posteriorly. Most children have severe developmental delay and infantile spasms, but milder phenotypes are on record, including posterior subcortical band heterotopia owing to mosaic mutations of LIS1. DCX mutations usually cause anteriorly predominant lissencephaly in male patients and subcortical band heterotopia in female patients. Mutations of the coding region of DCX were found in all reported pedigrees and in about 50% of sporadic female patients with subcortical band heterotopia. Mutations of XLIS have also been found in male patients with anterior subcortical band heterotopia and in female patients with normal brain magnetic resonance imaging. The thickness of the band and the severity of pachygyria correlate with the likelihood of developing severe epilepsy. Autosomal recessive lissencephaly with cerebellar hypoplasia, accompanied by severe delay, hypotonia, and seizures, has been associated with mutations of the reelin (RELN) gene. X-linked lissencephaly with corpus callosum agenesis and ambiguous genitalia in genotypic males is associated with mutations of the ARX gene. Affected boys have severe delay and infantile spasms with suppression-burst electroencephalograms. Early death is frequent. Carrier female patients can have isolated corpus callosum agenesis. Schizencephaly has a wide anatomoclinical spectrum, including focal epilepsy in most patients. Familial occurrence is rare. Initial reports of heterozygous mutations in the EMX2 gene have not been confirmed. Among several syndromes featuring polymicrogyria, bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria shows genetic heterogeneity, including linkage to chromosome Xq28 in some pedigrees, autosomal dominant or recessive inheritance in others, and an association with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion in some patients. About 65% of patients have severe epilepsy. Recessive bilateral frontoparietal polymicrogyria has been associated with mutations of the GPR56 gene.

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