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Biophys J. 2004 Apr;86(4):2606-14.

Theoretical investigation of the neuronal Na+ channel SCN1A: abnormal gating and epilepsy.

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Department of Pharmacology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Epilepsy is a paroxysmal neurological disorder resulting from abnormal cellular excitability and is a common cause of disability. Recently, some forms of idiopathic epilepsy have been causally related to genetic mutations in neuronal ion channels. To understand disease mechanisms, it is crucial to understand how a gene defect can disrupt channel gating, which in turn can affect complex cellular dynamic processes. We develop a theoretical Markovian model of the neuronal Na+ channel NaV1.1 to explore and explain gating mechanisms underlying cellular excitability and physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms of abnormal neuronal excitability in the context of epilepsy. Genetic epilepsy has been shown to result from both mutations that give rise to a gain of channel function and from those that reduce the Na+ current. These data may suggest that abnormal excitation can result from both hyperexcitability and hypoexcitability, the mechanisms of which are presumably distinct, and as yet elusive. Revelation of the molecular origins will allow for translation into targeted pharmacological interventions that must be developed to treat syndromes resulting from divergent mechanisms. This work represents a first step in developing a comprehensive theoretical model to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying runaway excitation that cause epilepsy.

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