Mutations of the Sonic Hedgehog Pathway Underlie Hypothalamic Hamartoma with Gelastic Epilepsy

Michael S. Hildebrand, Nicole G. Griffin, John A. Damiano, Elisa J. Cops, Rosemary Burgess, Ezgi Ozturk, Nigel C. Jones, Richard J. Leventer, Jeremy L. Freeman, A. Simon Harvey, Lynette G. Sadleir, Ingrid E. Scheffer, Heather Major, Benjamin W. Darbro, Andrew S. Allen, David B. Goldstein, John F. Kerrigan, Samuel F. Berkovic, Erin L. Heinzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Hypothalamic hamartoma (HH) with gelastic epilepsy is a well-recognized drug-resistant epilepsy syndrome of early life.1 Surgical resection allows limited access to the small deep-seated lesions that cause the disease. Here, we report the results of a search for somatic mutations in paired hamartoma- and leukocyte-derived DNA samples from 38 individuals which we conducted by using whole-exome sequencing (WES), chromosomal microarray (CMA), and targeted resequencing (TRS) of candidate genes. Somatic mutations were identified in genes involving regulation of the sonic hedgehog (Shh) pathway in 14/38 individuals (37%). Three individuals had somatic mutations in PRKACA, which encodes a cAMP-dependent protein kinase that acts as a repressor protein in the Shh pathway, and four subjects had somatic mutations in GLI3, an Shh pathway gene associated with HH. In seven other individuals, we identified two recurrent and three single brain-tissue-specific, large copy-number or loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) variants involving multiple Shh genes, as well as other genes without an obvious biological link to the Shh pathway. The Shh pathway genes in these large somatic lesions include the ligand itself (SHH and IHH), the receptor SMO, and several other Shh downstream pathway members, including CREBBP and GLI2. Taken together, our data implicate perturbation of the Shh pathway in at least 37% of individuals with the HH epilepsy syndrome, consistent with the concept of a developmental pathway brain disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-429
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this