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    Dravet syndrome (DS) is characterized by severe infant-onset myoclonic epilepsy along with delayed psychomotor development and heightened premature mortality. A primary monogenic cause is mutation of the SCN1A gene, which encodes the voltage-gated sodium channel subunit Nav1.1. The nature and timing of changes caused by SCN1A mutation in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) network, a core area for gating major excitatory input to hippocampus and a classic epileptogenic zone, are not well known. In particularly, it is still not clear whether the developmental deficit of this epileptogenic neural network temporally matches with the progress of seizure development. Here, we investigated the emerging functional and structural deficits of the DG network in a novel mouse model (Scn1a(E1099X/+)) that mimics the genetic deficit of human DS. Scn1a(E1099X/+) (Het) mice, similarly to human DS patients, exhibited early spontaneous seizures and were more susceptible to hyperthermia-induced seizures starting at postnatal week (PW) 3, with seizures peaking at PW4. During the same period, the Het DG exhibited a greater reduction of Nav1.1-expressing GABAergic neurons compared to other hippocampal areas. Het DG GABAergic neurons showed altered action potential kinetics, reduced excitability, and generated fewer spontaneous inhibitory inputs into DG granule cells. The effect of reduced inhibitory input to DG granule cells was exacerbated by heightened spontaneous excitatory transmission and elevated excitatory release probability in these cells. In addition to electrophysiological deficit, we observed emerging morphological abnormalities of DG granule cells. Het granule cells exhibited progressively reduced dendritic arborization and excessive spines, which coincided with imbalanced network activity and the developmental onset of spontaneous seizures. Taken together, our results establish the existence of significant structural and functional developmental deficits of the DG network and the temporal correlation between emergence of these deficits and the onset of seizures in Het animals. Most importantly, our results uncover the developmental deficits of neural connectivity in Het mice. Such structural abnormalities likely further exacerbate network instability and compromise higher-order cognitive processing later in development, and thus highlight the multifaceted impacts of Scn1a deficiency on neural development. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Citation

    Ming-Shian Tsai, Meng-Larn Lee, Chun-Yun Chang, Hsiang-Hsuan Fan, I-Shing Yu, You-Tzung Chen, Jhih-Yi You, Chun-Yu Chen, Fang-Chia Chang, Jane H Hsiao, Olga Khorkova, Horng-Huei Liou, Yuchio Yanagawa, Li-Jen Lee, Shu-Wha Lin. Functional and structural deficits of the dentate gyrus network coincide with emerging spontaneous seizures in an Scn1a mutant Dravet Syndrome model during development. Neurobiology of disease. 2015 May;77:35-48

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    PMID: 25725421

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