We identified a family in which a translocation between chromosomes X and 14 was associated with cognitive impairment and a complex genetic disorder termed "Genetic Epilepsy and Febrile Seizures Plus" (GEFS(+)). We demonstrate that the breakpoint on the X chromosome disrupted a gene that encodes an auxiliary protein of voltage-gated Na(+) channels, fibroblast growth factor 13 (Fgf13). Female mice in which one Fgf13 allele was deleted exhibited hyperthermia-induced seizures and epilepsy. Anatomic studies revealed expression of Fgf13 mRNA in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons of hippocampus. Electrophysiological recordings revealed decreased inhibitory and increased excitatory synaptic inputs in hippocampal neurons of Fgf13 mutants. We speculate that reduced expression of Fgf13 impairs excitability of inhibitory interneurons, resulting in enhanced excitability within local circuits of hippocampus and the clinical phenotype of epilepsy. These findings reveal a novel cause of this syndrome and underscore the powerful role of FGF13 in control of neuronal excitability.
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