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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041802. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Identification of SCN1A and PCDH19 mutations in Chinese children with Dravet syndrome.

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Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.



Dravet syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy. Majority of patients have a mutation in SCN1A gene, which encodes a voltage-gated sodium channel. A recent study has demonstrated that 16% of SCN1A-negative patients have a mutation in PCDH19, the gene encoding protocadherin-19. Mutations in other genes account for only a very small proportion of families. TSPYL4 is a novel candidate gene within the locus 6q16.3-q22.31 identified by linkage study.


The present study examined the mutations in epileptic Chinese children with emphasis on Dravet syndrome.


A hundred children with severe epilepsy were divided into Dravet syndrome and non-Dravet syndrome groups and screened for SCN1A mutations by direct sequencing. SCN1A-negative Dravet syndrome patients and patients with phenotypes resembling Dravet syndrome were checked for PCDH19 and TSPYL4 mutations.


Eighteen patients (9 males, 9 females) were diagnosed to have Dravet syndrome. Among them, 83% (15/18) had SCN1A mutations including truncating (7), splice site (2) and missense mutations (6). The truncating/splice site mutations were associated with moderate to severe degree of intellectual disability (p<0.05). During the progression of disease, 73% (11/15) had features fitting into the diagnostic criteria of autism spectrum disorder and 53% (8/15) had history of vaccination-induced seizures. A novel PCDH19 p.D377N mutation was identified in one SCN1A-negative female patient with Dravet syndrome and a known PCDH19 p.N340S mutation in a female non-Dravet syndrome patient. The former also inherited a TSPYL4 p.G60R variant.


A high percentage of SCN1A mutations was identified in our Chinese cohort of Dravet syndrome patients but none in the rest of patients. We demonstrated that truncating/splice site mutations were linked to moderate to severe intellectual disability in these patients. A de novo PCDH19 missense mutation together with an inherited TSPYL4 missense variant were identified in a patient with Dravet syndrome.

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