Missing heritability. The concept of missing heritability is often invoked to demonstrate that existing genetic techniques only identify a fraction of the overall genetic risk for human diseases including the epilepsies. This statement implicitly assumes that we have a good and solid understanding of what the magnitude of genetic risk actually is. However, when looking at the epidemiological studies that have investigated familial risk of epilepsy, some of these studies have inherent problems, including small sample sizes, different phenotype definitions, recruitment bias, and lack of controls. A recent study in Brain now reassesses the familial risk of epilepsy in a population-based cohort of the Rochester Epidemiology Project. There are few instant classics in the field of epilepsy genetics – this study is one of them. Continue reading
Rare Epilepsy Syndromes. Motivated by a recent paper in JIMD Reports, I wanted to use this post to present a very rare group of disorders, in which glycosylation of a variety of tissue proteins and/or lipids is deficient. These so-called congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) are a highly heterogeneous group of recessive disorders that you might be confronted with. As CDG may masquerade as otherwise non-specific epileptic encephalopathies, you might encounter them clinically or by browsing through exomes of patients with RES. Imtiaz and colleagues now report on two brothers in a large Saudi family with 18 affected siblings. They identified a mutation in DPAGT1, which is known to cause CDG Ij. Continue reading
The not so static genome. We usually think that our genome is static and that differences between cell types usually arise through mechanisms that do not necessarily involve alterations of the DNA structure. This suggestion has been challenged by initial data suggesting that retrotransposons may be particulary active in neurones. Now, a recent study in Cell investigates the role of jumping genes using single-cell sequencing of neurons.