Background: Brugada syndrome (BrS) is an inheritable cardiac disease associated with syncope, malignant ven- tricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. The largest proportion of mutations in BrS is found in the SCN5A gene encoding the α-subunit of cardiac sodium channels (Nav1.5). Causal SCN5A mutations are present in 18–30% of BrS patients. The additional genetic diagnostic yield of variants in cardiac sodium channel β-subunits in BrS patients was explored and functional studies on 3 novel candidate variants were performed.
Methods and Results: The SCN1B-SCN4B genes were screened, which encode the 5 sodium channel β-subunits, in a SCN5A negative BrS population (n=74). Five novel variants were detected; in silico pathogenicity prediction classified 4 variants as possibly disease causing. Three variants were selected for functional study. These variants caused only limited alterations of Nav1.5 function. Next generation sequencing of a panel of 88 arrhythmia genes could not identify other major causal mutations.
Conclusions: It was hypothesized that the studied variants are not the primary cause of BrS in these patients. However, because small functional effects of these β-subunit variants can be discriminated, they might contribute to the BrS phenotype and be considered a risk factor. The existence of these risk factors can give an explanation to the reduced penetrance and variable expressivity seen in this syndrome. We therefore recommend including the SCN1-4B genes in a next generation sequencing-based gene panel.
Key Words: Brugada syndrome; Functional studies; Patch clamp; SCN1-4B