Investigation of CACNA1I Cav3.3 Dysfunction in Hemiplegic Migraine

Publication Name

Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience


Familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM) is a severe neurogenetic disorder for which three causal genes, CACNA1A, SCN1A, and ATP1A2, have been implicated. However, more than 80% of referred diagnostic cases of hemiplegic migraine (HM) are negative for exonic mutations in these known FHM genes, suggesting the involvement of other genes. Using whole-exome sequencing data from 187 mutation-negative HM cases, we identified rare variants in the CACNA1I gene encoding the T-type calcium channel Cav3.3. Burden testing of CACNA1I variants showed a statistically significant increase in allelic burden in the HM case group compared to gnomAD (OR = 2.30, P = 0.00005) and the UK Biobank (OR = 2.32, P = 0.0004) databases. Dysfunction in T-type calcium channels, including Cav3.3, has been implicated in a range of neurological conditions, suggesting a potential role in HM. Using patch-clamp electrophysiology, we compared the biophysical properties of five Cav3.3 variants (p.R111G, p.M128L, p.D302G, p.R307H, and p.Q1158H) to wild-type (WT) channels expressed in HEK293T cells. We observed numerous functional alterations across the channels with Cav3.3-Q1158H showing the greatest differences compared to WT channels, including reduced current density, right-shifted voltage dependence of activation and inactivation, and slower current kinetics. Interestingly, we also found significant differences in the conductance properties exhibited by the Cav3.3-R307H and -Q1158H variants compared to WT channels under conditions of acidosis and alkalosis. In light of these data, we suggest that rare variants in CACNA1I may contribute to HM etiology.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Institutes of Health



Link to publisher version (DOI)