Impaired motor skill learning and altered seizure susceptibility in mice with loss or gain of function of the Kcnt1 gene encoding Slack (KNa1.1) Na+-activated K+ channels. uri icon


  • Gain-of-function mutations in KCNT1, the gene encoding Slack (KNa1.1) channels, result in epilepsy of infancy with migrating focal seizures (EIMFS) and several other forms of epilepsy associated with severe intellectual disability. We have generated a mouse model of this condition by replacing the wild type gene with one encoding Kcnt1R455H, a cytoplasmic C-terminal mutation homologous to a human R474H variant that results in EIMFS. We compared behavior patterns and seizure activity in these mice with those of wild type mice and Kcnt1-/- mice. Complete loss of Kcnt1 produced deficits in open field behavior and motor skill learning. Although their thresholds for electrically and chemically induced seizures were similar to those of wild type animals, Kcnt1-/- mice were significantly protected from death after maximum electroshock-induced seizures. In contrast, homozygous Kcnt1R455H/R455H mice were embryonic lethal. Video-EEG monitoring of heterozygous Kcnt1+/R455H animals revealed persistent interictal spikes, spontaneous seizures and a substantially decreased threshold for pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures. Surprisingly, Kcnt1+/R455H mice were not impaired in tasks of exploratory behavior or procedural motor learning. These findings provide an animal model for EIMFS and suggest that Slack channels are required for the development of procedural learning and of pathways that link cortical seizures to other regions required for animal survival.

publication date

  • February 21, 2020