Rolandic Epilepsy (RE) is the most common idiopathic focal childhood epilepsy. Its molecular basis is largely unknown and a complex genetic etiology is assumed in the majority of affected individuals. The present study tested whether six large recurrent CNVs at 1q21, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 previously associated with neurodevelopmental disorders also increase risk of RE. Our association analyses revealed a significant excess of the 600 kb genomic duplication at the 16p11.2 locus (chr16: 29.5 – 30.1 Mb) in 393 unrelated patients with typical (n=339) and atypical (ARE; n=54) RE compared with the prevalence in 65046 European population controls (5/393 cases vs 32/65046 controls; Fisher’s exact test P=2.83 x 10-6, OR=26.2, 95% CI: 7.9 – 68.2). In contrast, the 16p11.2 duplication was not detected in 1738 European epilepsy patients with either temporal lobe epilepsy (n=330) and genetic generalized epilepsies (n=1408), suggesting a selective enrichment of the 16p11.2 duplication in idiopathic focal childhood epilepsies (Fisher’s exact test P=2.1 x 10-4). In a subsequent screen among children carrying the 16p11.2 600 kb rearrangement we identified three patients with RE-spectrum epilepsies in 117 duplication carriers (2.6%) but none in 202 carriers of the reciprocal deletion. Our results suggest that the 16p11.2 duplication represents a significant genetic risk factor for typical and atypical Rolandic epilepsy.
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