Distinct gene-set burden patterns underlie common generalized and focal epilepsies

Epi25 Collaborative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Analyses of few gene-sets in epilepsy showed a potential to unravel key disease associations. We set out to investigate the burden of ultra-rare variants (URVs) in a comprehensive range of biologically informed gene-sets presumed to be implicated in epileptogenesis. Methods: The burden of 12 URV types in 92 gene-sets was compared between cases and controls using whole exome sequencing data from individuals of European descent with developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEE, n = 1,003), genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE, n = 3,064), or non-acquired focal epilepsy (NAFE, n = 3,522), collected by the Epi25 Collaborative, compared to 3,962 ancestry-matched controls. Findings: Missense URVs in highly constrained regions were enriched in neuron-specific and developmental genes, whereas genes not expressed in brain were not affected. GGE featured a higher burden in gene-sets derived from inhibitory vs. excitatory neurons or associated receptors, whereas the opposite was found for NAFE, and DEE featured a burden in both. Top-ranked susceptibility genes from recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and gene-sets derived from generalized vs. focal epilepsies revealed specific enrichment patterns of URVs in GGE vs. NAFE. Interpretation: Missense URVs affecting highly constrained sites differentially impact genes expressed in inhibitory vs. excitatory pathways in generalized vs. focal epilepsies. The excess of URVs in top-ranked GWAS risk-genes suggests a convergence of rare deleterious and common risk-variants in the pathogenesis of generalized and focal epilepsies. Funding: DFG Research Unit FOR-2715 (Germany), FNR (Luxembourg), NHGRI (US), NHLBI (US), DAAD (Germany).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103588
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Burden analysis
  • Epilepsy
  • Exome sequencing
  • Gene-sets
  • Ultra-rare variants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinct gene-set burden patterns underlie common generalized and focal epilepsies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this