Autosomal-dominant lateral temporal epilepsy (ADLTE) is a genetic epilepsy syndrome clinically characterized by focal seizures with prominent auditory symptoms. ADLTE is genetically heterogeneous, and mutations in LGI1 account for fewer than 50% of affected families. Here, we report the identification of causal mutations in reelin (RELN) in seven ADLTE-affected families without LGI1 mutations. We initially investigated 13 ADLTE-affected families by performing SNP-array linkage analysis and whole-exome sequencing and identified three heterozygous missense mutations co-segregating with the syndrome. Subsequent analysis of 15 small ADLTE-affected families revealed four additional missense mutations. 3D modeling predicted that all mutations have structural effects on protein-domain folding. Overall, RELN mutations occurred in 7/40 (17.5%) ADLTE-affected families. RELN encodes a secreted protein, Reelin, which has important functions in both the developing and adult brain and is also found in the blood serum. We show that ADLTE-related mutations significantly decrease serum levels of Reelin, suggesting an inhibitory effect of mutations on protein secretion. We also show that Reelin and LGI1 co-localize in a subset of rat brain neurons, supporting an involvement of both proteins in a common molecular pathway underlying ADLTE. Homozygous RELN mutations are known to cause lissencephaly with cerebellar hypoplasia. Our findings extend the spectrum of neurological disorders associated with RELN mutations and establish a link between RELN and LGI1, which play key regulatory roles in both the developing and adult brain.
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