Loss of function in the Scn1a gene leads to a severe epileptic encephalopathy called Dravet syndrome (DS). Reduced excitability in cortical inhibitory neurons is thought to be the major cause of DS seizures. Here, in contrast, we show enhanced excitability in thalamic inhibitory neurons that promotes the non-convulsive seizures that are a prominent yet poorly understood feature of DS. In a mouse model of DS with a loss of function in Scn1a, reticular thalamic cells exhibited abnormally long bursts of firing caused by the downregulation of calcium-activated potassium SK channels. Our study supports a mechanism in which loss of SK activity causes the reticular thalamic neurons to become hyperexcitable and promote non-convulsive seizures in DS. We propose that reduced excitability of inhibitory neurons is not global in DS and that non-GABAergic mechanisms such as SK channels may be important targets for treatment.In a mouse model of Dravet syndrome (DS) resulting from voltage-gated sodium channel deficiency, Ritter-Makinson et al. find that inhibitory neurons of the reticular thalamic nucleus are paradoxically hyperexcitable due to compensatory reductions in a potassium SK current. Boosting this SK current treats non-convulsive seizures in DS mice.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.12.018, hdl.handle.net/1765/113585
Cell Reports
Department of Neuroscience

Ritter-Makinson, S. (Stefanie), Clemente-Perez, A. (Alexandra), Higashikubo, B. (Bryan), Cho, F.S. (Frances S.), Holden, S.S. (Stephanie S.), Bennett, E. (Eric), … Paz, J.T. (Jeanne T.). (2018). Augmented Reticular Thalamic Bursting and Seizures in Scn1a-Dravet Syndrome. Cell Reports. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2018.12.018