Mutations of protocadherin 19 in female epilepsy (PCDH19-FE) lead to allopregnanolone deficiency

Chuan Tan, Chloe Shard, Enzo Ranieri, Kim Hynes, Duyen H. Pham, Damian Leach, Grant Buchanan, Mark Corbett, Cheryl Shoubridge, Raman Kumar, Evelyn Douglas, Lam S. Nguyen, Jacinta Mcmahon, Lynette Sadleir, Nicola Specchio, Carla Marini, Renzo Guerrini, Rikke S. Moller, Christel Depienne, Eric HaanPaul Q. Thomas, Samuel F. Berkovic, Ingrid E. Scheffer, Jozef Gecz

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Protocadherin 19 (PCDH19) female limited epilepsy (PCDH19-FE; also known as epilepsy and mental retardation limited to females, EFMR; MIM300088) is an infantile onset epilepsy syndrome with or without intellectual disability (ID) and autism. We investigated transcriptomes of PCDH19-FE female and control primary skin fibroblasts, which are endowed to metabolize neurosteroid hormones. We identified a set of 94 significantly dysregulated genes in PCDH19-FE females. Intriguingly, 43 of the 94 genes (45.7%) showed gender-biased expression; enrichment of such genes was highly significant (P = 2.51E-47, two-tailed Fisher exact test). We further investigated the AKR1C1-3 genes, which encode crucial steroid hormone-metabolizing enzymes whose key products include allopregnanolone and estradiol. Both mRNA and protein levels of AKR1C3 were significantly decreased in PCDH19-FE patients. In agreement with this, the blood levels of allopregnanolone were also (P < 0.01) reduced. In conclusion, we show that the deficiency of neurosteroid allopregnanolone, one of the most potent GABA receptor modulators, may contribute to PCDH19-FE. Overall our findings provide evidence for a role of neurosteroids in epilepsy, ID and autism and create realistic opportunities for targeted therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5250-5259
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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