Targeted loss of Arx results in a developmental epilepsy mouse model and recapitulates the human phenotype in heterozygous females

Eric Marsh, Carl Fulp, Ernest Gomez, Ilya Nasrallah, Jeremy Minarcik, Jyotsna Sudi, Susan L. Christian, Grazia Mancini, Patricia Labosky, William Dobyns, Amy Brooks-Kayal, Jeffrey A. Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Mutations in the X-linked aristaless-related homeobox gene (ARX) have been linked to structural brain anomalies as well as multiple neurocognitive deficits. The generation of Arx-deficient mice revealed several morphological anomalies, resembling those observed in patients and an interneuron migration defect but perinatal lethality precluded analyses of later phenotypes. Interestingly, many of the neurological phenotypes observed in patients with various ARX mutations can be attributed, in part, to interneuron dysfunction. To directly test this possibility, mice carrying a floxed Arx allele were generated and crossed to Dlx5/6CRE-IRES-GFP(Dlx5/6CIG) mice, conditionally deleting Arx from ganglionic eminence derived neurons including cortical interneurons. We now report that Arx-/y;Dlx5/ 6CIG (male) mice exhibit a variety of seizure types beginning in early-life, including seizures that behaviourally and electroencephalographically resembles infantile spasms, and show evolution through development. Thus, this represents a new genetic model of a malignant form of paediatric epilepsy, with some characteristics resembling infantile spasms, caused by mutations in a known infantile spasms gene. Unexpectedly, approximately half of the female mice carrying a single mutant Arx allele (Arx-/;Dlx5/6CIG) also developed seizures. We also found that a subset of human female carriers have seizures and neurocognitive deficits. In summary, we have identified a previously unrecognized patient population with neurological deficits attributed to ARX mutations that are recapitulated in our mouse model. Furthermore, we show that perturbation of interneuron subpopulations is an important mechanism underling the pathogenesis of developmental epilepsy in both hemizygous males and carrier females. Given the frequency of ARX mutations in patients with infantile spasms and related disorders, our data unveil a new model for further understanding the pathogenesis of these disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1576
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
National Institutes of Health (grants NS46616 to J.A.G. and W.B.D.) and (MRRDC grant HD26979 to J.G. and A.B.K.)]; The American Epilepsy Society/Milken Family Foundation [Early Career Investigator Award (to E.M.)]; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia [Forderer Foundation Grant (to A.B.K. and J.G.)].


  • Conditional knockout
  • Development
  • Epilepsy
  • Genetic model
  • Interneurons


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