Genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE), formerly known as idiopathic generalized epilepsy, is the most common form of epilepsy and is thought to have predominant genetic etiology. GGE are clinically characterized by absence, myoclonic, or generalized tonic-clonic seizures with electroencephalographic pattern of bilateral, synchronous, and symmetrical spike-and-wave discharges. Despite their strong heritability, the genetic basis of generalized epilepsies remains largely elusive. Nevertheless, recent advances in genetic technology have led to the identification of numerous genes and genomic defects in various types of epilepsies in the past few years. In the present study, we performed whole-exome sequencing in a family with GGE consistent with the diagnosis of eyelid myoclonia with absences. We found a nonsense variant (c.196C>T/p.(Arg66∗)) in RORB, which encodes the beta retinoid-related orphan nuclear receptor (RORβ), in four affected family members. In addition, two de novo variants (c.218T>C/p.(Leu73Pro); c.1249-1251delACG/p.(Thr417del)) were identified in sporadic patients by trio-based exome sequencing. We also found two de novo deletions in patients with behavioral and cognitive impairment and epilepsy: a 52-kb microdeletion involving exons 5-10 of RORB and a larger 9q21-microdeletion. Furthermore, we identified a patient with intellectual disability and a balanced translocation where one breakpoint truncates RORB and refined the phenotype of a recently reported patient with RORB deletion. Our data support the role of RORB gene variants/CNVs in neurodevelopmental disorders including epilepsy, and especially in generalized epilepsies with predominant absence seizures.
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