Functional analysis of missense variants in the TRESK (KCNK18) K+ channel

Andres-Enguix, Isabelle, Shang, Lijun, Stansfeld, Phillip J., Morahan, Julia M., Sansom, Mark S. P., Lafrenière, Ronald G., Roy, Bishakha, Griffiths, Lyn R., Rouleau, Guy A., Ebers, George C., Cader, Zameel M., & Tucker, Stephen J. (2012) Functional analysis of missense variants in the TRESK (KCNK18) K+ channel. Scientific Reports, 2.

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A loss of function mutation in the TRESK K2P potassium channel (KCNK18), has recently been linked with typical familial migraine with aura. We now report the functional characterisation of additional TRESK channel missense variants identified in unrelated patients. Several variants either had no apparent functional effect, or they caused a reduction in channel activity. However, the C110R variant was found to cause a complete loss of TRESK function, yet is present in both sporadic migraine and control cohorts, and no variation in KCNK18 copy number was found. Thus despite the previously identified association between loss of TRESK channel activity and migraine in a large multigenerational pedigree, this finding indicates that a single non-functional TRESK variant is not alone sufficient to cause typical migraine and highlights the genetic complexity of this disorder.

Migraine is a common, disabling neurological disorder with a genetic, environmental and in some cases hormonal component. It is characterized by attacks of severe, usually unilateral and throbbing headache, can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and photophobia and is clinically divided into two main subtypes, migraine with aura (MA) when a migraine is accompanied by transient and reversible focal neurological symptoms and migraine without aura (MO)1. The multifactorial and clinical heterogeneity of the disorder have considerably hindered the identification of common migraine susceptibility genes and most of our current understanding comes from the studies of familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM), a rare monogenic autosomal dominant form of MA2.

So far, the three susceptibility genes that have been convincingly identified in FHM families all encode ion channels or transporters: CACNA1A encoding the α1 subunit of the Cav2.1 calcium channel3, SCN1A encoding the Nav1.1 sodium channel4 and ATP1A2 encoding the α2 subunit of the Na+/K+ pump5. It is believed that mutations in these genes may lead to increased efflux of glutamate and potassium in the synapse and thereby cause migraine by rendering the brain more susceptible to cortical spreading depression (CSD)6 which is thought to play a role in initiating a migraine attack7,8. However, these genes have not to date been implicated in common forms of migraine9.

Nevertheless, current opinion suggests that typical migraine, like FHM, is also disorder of neuronal excitability, ion homeostasis and neurotransmitter release10,11,12. Mutations in the SLC4A4 gene encoding the sodium-bicarbonate cotransporter NBCe1, have recently been implicated in several different forms of migraine13, and a variety of genes involved in glutamate homeostasis (PGCP, MTDH14 and LRP115) and a cation channel (TRPM8)15 have also recently been implicated in migraine via genome-wide association studies. Ion channels are therefore highly likely to play an important role in the pathogenesis of typical migraine.

TRESK (KCNK18), is a member of the two-pore domain (K2P) family of potassium channels involved in the control of cellular electrical excitability16. Regulation of TRESK activity by the calcium-dependent phosphatase calcineurin17, as well as its expression in dorsal root ganglia (DRG)18 and trigeminal ganglia (TG)19,20 has led to a proposed role for this channel in a variety of pain pathways. In a recent study, a frameshift mutation (F139Wfsx24) in TRESK was identified in a large multigenerational pedigree where it co-segregated perfectly with typical MA and a significant genome-wide linkage LOD score of 3.0. Furthermore, functional analysis revealed that this mutation caused a complete loss of TRESK function and that the truncated subunit was also capable of down regulating wild-type channel function. This therefore highlighted KCNK18 as potentially important candidate gene and suggested that TRESK dysfunction might play a possible role in the pathogenesis of familial migraine with visual aura20.

Additional screening for KCNK18 mutations in unrelated sporadic migraine and control cohorts also identified a number of other missense variants; R10G, A34V, C110R, S231P and A233V20. The A233V variant was found only in the control cohort, whilst A34V was identified in a single Australian migraine proband for which family samples were not available, but it was not detected in controls. By contrast, the R10G, C110R, and S231P variants were found in both migraineurs and controls in both cohorts. In this study, we have investigated the functional effect of these variants to further probe the potential association of TRESK dysfunction with typical migraine.

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ID Code: 62498
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1038/srep00237
ISSN: 2045-2322
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Nature Publishing Group
Deposited On: 13 Sep 2013 01:23
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2017 07:01

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