Kv7.2 and Kv7.3 subunits underlie the M-current, a neuronal K+ current characterized by an absolute functional requirement for phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). Kv7.2 gene mutations cause early-onset neonatal seizures with heterogeneous clinical outcomes, ranging from self-limiting benign familial neonatal seizures to severe early-onset epileptic encephalopathy (Kv7.2-EE). In this study, the biochemical and functional consequences prompted by a recurrent variant (R325G) found independently in four individuals with severe forms of neonatal-onset EE have been investigated. Upon heterologous expression, homomeric Kv7.2 R325G channels were non-functional, despite biotin-capture in Western blots revealed normal plasma membrane subunit expression. Mutant subunits exerted dominant-negative effects when incorporated into heteromeric channels with Kv7.2 and/or Kv7.3 subunits. Increasing cellular PIP2 levels by co-expression of type 1γ PI(4)P5-kinase (PIP5K) partially recovered homomeric Kv7.2 R325G channel function. Currents carried by heteromeric channels incorporating Kv7.2 R325G subunits were more readily inhibited than wild-type channels upon activation of a voltage-sensitive phosphatase (VSP), and recovered more slowly upon VSP switch-off. These results reveal for the first time that a mutation-induced decrease in current sensitivity to PIP2 is the primary molecular defect responsible for Kv7.2-EE in individuals carrying the R325G variant, further expanding the range of pathogenetic mechanisms exploitable for personalized treatment of Kv7.2-related epilepsies.
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