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Hippocampal and neocortical BRAF mutant non-expansive lesions in focal epilepsies.

OBJECTIVE: Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy-associated Hippocampal Sclerosis (MTLE-HS) is a syndrome associated with various aetiologies. We previously identified CD34-positive extravascular stellate cells (CD34+ cells) possibly related to BRAFV600E oncogenic variant in a subset of MTLE-HS. We aimed to identify the BRAFV600E oncogenic variants and characterise the CD34+ cells.

METHODS: We analysed BRAFV600E oncogenic variant by digital droplet Polymerase Chain Reaction in 53 MTLE-HS samples (25 with CD34+ cells) and 9 non-expansive neocortical lesions resected during epilepsy surgery (5 with CD34+ cells). Ex vivo multi-electrode array recording, immunolabelling, methylation microarray and single nuclei RNAseq were performed on BRAFwildtype MTLE-HS and BRAFV600E mutant non-expansive lesion of hippocampus and/or neocortex.

RESULTS: We identified a BRAFV600E oncogenic variant in 5 MTLE-HS samples with CD34+ cells (19%) and in 5 neocortical samples with CD34+ cells (100%). Single nuclei RNAseq of resected samples revealed two unique clusters of abnormal cells (including CD34+ cells) associated with senescence and oligodendrocyte development in both hippocampal and neocortical BRAFV600E mutant samples. The co-expression of the oncogene-induced senescence marker p16INK4A and the outer subventricular zone radial glia progenitor marker HOPX in CD34+ cells was confirmed by multiplex immunostaining. Pseudotime analysis showed that abnormal cells share a common lineage from progenitors to myelinating oligodendrocytes. Epilepsy surgery led to seizure freedom in 8 of the 10 patients with BRAF mutant lesions.

INTERPRETATION: BRAFV600E underlies a subset of MTLE-HS and epileptogenic non-expansive neocortical focal lesions. Detection of the oncogenic variant may help diagnosis and opens perspectives for targeted therapies.

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