Headache attacks and autonomic dysfunctions characterize migraine, a very common, disabling disorder with a prevalence of 12% in the general population of Western countries1,2. About 20% of individuals affected with migraine experience aura, a visual or sensory-motor neurological dysfunction that usually precedes or accompanies the headache3. Although the mode of transmission is controversial4, population-based and twin studies have implicated genetic factors, especially in migraine with aura5,6. Familial hemiplegic migraine is a hereditary form of migraine characterized by aura and some hemiparesis. Here we show that mutations in the gene ATP1A2 that encodes the α2 subunit of the Na+/K+ pump are associated with familial hemiplegic migraine type 2 (FHM2) linked to chromosome 1q23 (OMIM 602481). Functional data indicate that the putative pathogenetic mechanism is triggered by a loss of function of a single allele of ATP1A2. This is the first report associating mutations of Na+K+ pump subunits to genetic diseases.
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