Epilepsy and neuropsychiatric comorbidities in mice carrying a recurrent Dravet syndrome SCN1A missense mutation
Dravet Syndrome (DS) is an encephalopathy with epilepsy associated with multiple neuropsychiatric comorbidities. In up to 90% of cases, it is caused by functional happloinsufficiency of the SCN1A gene, which encodes the alpha subunit of a voltage-dependent sodium channel (Nav1.1). Preclinical development of new targeted therapies requires accessible animal models which recapitulate the disease at the genetic and clinical levels. Here we describe that a C57BL/6 J knock-in mouse strain carrying a heterozygous, clinically relevant SCN1A mutation (A1783V) presents a full spectrum of DS manifestations. This includes 70% mortality rate during the first 8 weeks of age, reduced threshold for heat-induced seizures (4.7 degrees C lower compared with control littermates), cognitive impairment, motor disturbances, anxiety, hyperactive behavior and defects in the interaction with the environment. In contrast, sociability was relatively preserved. Electrophysiological studies showed spontaneous interictal epileptiform discharges, which increased in a temperature-dependent manner. Seizures were multifocal, with different origins within and across individuals. They showed intra/inter-hemispheric propagation and often resulted in generalized tonic-clonic seizures. F-18-labelled flourodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) revealed a global increase in glucose uptake in the brain of Scn1a(WT/A1783V) mice. We conclude that the Scn1a(WT/A1783V) model is a robust research platform for the evaluation of new therapies against DS.