Two novel mutations of SCN9A (Nav1.7) are associated with partial congenital insensitivity to pain

Authors


Department of Medicine, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610-0221, United States. Tel.: +1 352 273 5340; fax: +1 352 392 8483 staudr@ufl.edu.

Abstract

Insensitivity to pain is a rare disorder that is commonly associated with Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathies (HSAN I—V) resulting often in autonomic dysfunction and premature death. Very few individuals have been reported with pain insensitivity lacking such autonomic neuropathies. We performed genetic, neurologic, psychological, and psychophysical evaluations in such an individual (OMIM 243000) and her first degree relatives. Sequence analysis of genomic DNA revealed two novel SCN9A mutations in this index case (IC). One was a non-conservative missense mutation (C1719R) in exon 26 present only in the IC and one parent. Further sequence analysis of the chilD's DNA revealed a 1-bp splice donor deletion in intron 17 which was also present in the other parent and one sibling. Detailed psychophysical testing was used to phenotypically characterize the IC, her family members, and 10 matched normal controls. Similar to family members and controls the IC showed normal somatosensory functioning for non-nociceptive mechanoreception and warmth. However, she demonstrated diminished ability to detect cool temperatures combined with profound deficits in heat and mechanical nociception. Congenital insensitivity to pain in our IC was associated with two novel SCN9A mutations which most likely resulted in a Nav1.7 channelopathy. However, in contrast to individuals with other SCN9A mutations, the observed pain insensitivity was relative and not absolute, which may be consistent with hypomorphic effects of one or both mutations. The ability to sense at least some danger signals may be advantageous and ameliorate the otherwise increased morbidity and mortality of some individuals with congenital insensitivity to pain.

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