Comprehensive analysis of candidate genes for photosensitivity using a complementary bioinformatic and experimental approach.

Sarah von Spiczak, Katrin Finsterwalder, Hiltrud Muhle, Andre Franke, Markus Schilhabel, Ulrich Stephani, Ingo Helbig
Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
Journal title long:
Epilepsia (Copenhagen)
Impact factor:
Photoparoxysmal response (PPR) is a highly heritable electroencephalographic trait characterized by an increased sensitivity to photic stimulation. It may serve as an endophenotype for idiopathic generalized epilepsy. Family linkage studies identified susceptibility loci for PPR on chromosomes 5q35.3, 8q21.13, and 16p13.3. This study aimed to identify key candidate genes within these loci. We used bioinformatics tools for gene prioritization integrating information on biologic function, sequence data, gene expression, and others. The prime candidate gene from this analysis was sequenced in 48 photopositive probands. Presumed functional implications of identified polymorphisms were investigated using bioinformatics methods. The glutamate receptor subunit gene GRIN2A was identified as a prime candidate gene. Sequence analysis revealed various new polymorphisms. None of the identified variants was predicted to be functionally relevant. We objectified the selection of candidate genes for PPR without an a priori hypothesis. Particularly among the various ion channel genes in the linkage regions, GRIN2A was identified as the prime candidate gene. GRIN2A mutations have recently been identified in various epilepsies. Even though our mutation analysis failed to demonstrate direct involvement of GRIN2A in photosensitivity, in silico gene prioritization may provide a useful tool for the identification of candidate genes within large genomic regions.