Missense variants in RPH3A cause defects in excitatory synaptic function and are associated with a clinically variable neurodevelopmental disorder

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Purpose: RPH3A encodes a protein involved in the stabilization of GluN2A subunit of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors at the cell surface, forming a complex essential for synaptic plasticity and cognition. We investigated the effect of variants in RPH3A in patients with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Methods: By using trio-based exome sequencing, GeneMatcher, and screening of 100,000 Genomes Project data, we identified 6 heterozygous variants in RPH3A. In silico and in vitro models, including rat hippocampal neuronal cultures, have been used to characterize the effect of the variants.
Results: Four cases had a neurodevelopmental disorder with untreatable epileptic seizures [p.(Gln73His)dn; p.(Arg209Lys); p.(Thr450Ser)dn; p.(Gln508His)], and 2 cases [p.(Arg235Ser); p.(Asn618Ser)dn] showed high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. Using neuronal cultures, we demonstrated that p.(Thr450Ser) and p.(Asn618Ser) reduce the synaptic localization of GluN2A; p.(Thr450Ser) also increased the surface levels of GluN2A. Electrophysiological recordings showed increased GluN2A-dependent NMDA ionotropic glutamate receptor currents for both variants and alteration of postsynaptic calcium levels. Finally, expression of the Rph3AThr450Ser variant in neurons affected dendritic spine morphology.|
Conclusion: Overall, we provide evidence that missense gain-of-function variants in RPH3A increase GluN2A-containing NMDA ionotropic glutamate receptors at extrasynaptic sites, altering synaptic function and leading to a clinically variable neurodevelopmental presentation ranging from untreatable epilepsy to autism spectrum disorder.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Genetics in Medicine