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Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2019 Jul;7(7):e00727. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.727. Epub 2019 May 29.

Influence of common SCN1A promoter variants on the severity of SCN1A-related phenotypes.

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Department of Genetics, Center for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland, Zwolle, The Netherlands.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Epilepsy Center Kempenhaeghe, Heeze, The Netherlands.
Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



Pathogenic variants in SCN1A cause variable epilepsy disorders with different disease severities. We here investigate whether common variation in the promoter region of the unaffected SCN1A allele could reduce normal expression, leading to a decreased residual function of Nav1.1, and therefore to more severe clinical outcomes in patients affected by pathogenic SCN1A variants.


Five different SCN1A promoter-haplotypes were functionally assessed in SH-SY5Y cells using Firefly and Renilla luciferase assays. The SCN1A promoter region was analyzed in a cohort of 143 participants with SCN1A pathogenic variants. Differences in clinical features and outcomes between participants with and without common variants in the SCN1A promoter-region of their unaffected allele were investigated.


All non-wildtype haplotypes showed a significant reduction in luciferase expression, compared to the wildtype promoter-region (65%-80%, p = 0.039-0.0023). No statistically significant differences in clinical outcomes were observed between patients with and without common promoter variants. However, patients with a wildtype promoter-haplotype on their unaffected SCN1A allele showed a nonsignificant trend for milder phenotypes.


The nonsignificant observed trends in our study warrant replication studies in larger cohorts to explore the potential modifying role of these common SCN1A promoter-haplotypes.


SCN1A ; Dravet; GEFS+; promoter; variable expression

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