Loss-of-function mutations in a single allele of the gene encoding DEP domain–containing 5 protein (DEPDC5) are commonly linked to familial focal epilepsy with variable foci; however, a subset of patients presents with focal cortical dysplasia that is proposed to result from a second-hit somatic mutation. In this issue of the JCI, Ribierre and colleagues provide several lines of evidence to support second-hit DEPDC5 mutations in this disorder. Moreover, the authors use in vivo, in utero electroporation combined with CRISPR-Cas9 technology to generate a murine model of the disease that recapitulates human manifestations, including cortical dysplasia–like changes, focal seizures, and sudden unexpected death. This study provides important insights into familial focal epilepsy and provides a preclinical model for evaluating potential therapies.
Matthew P. Anderson