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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Oct 2023 - 27 Oct 2023

2023 Oct 26

Nat Genet


Editor's Pick

Rare variants with large effects provide functional insights into the pathology of migraine subtypes, with and without aura.


Bjornsdottir G, Chalmer MA, Stefansdottir L, Skuladottir AT, Einarsson G, Andresdottir M, Beyter D, Ferkingstad E, Gretarsdottir S, Halldorsson BV, Halldorsson GH, Helgadottir A, Helgason H, Hjorleifsson Eldjarn G, Jonasdottir A, Jonasdottir A, Jonsdottir I, Knowlton KU, Nadauld LD, Lund SH, Magnusson OT, Melsted P, Moore KHS, Oddsson A, Olason PI, Sigurdsson A, Stefansson OA, Saemundsdottir J, Sveinbjornsson G, Tragante V, Unnsteinsdottir U, Walters GB, Zink F, Rødevand L, Andreassen OA, Igland J, Lie RT, Haavik J, Banasik K, Brunak S, Didriksen M, T Bruun M, Erikstrup C, Kogelman LJA, Nielsen KR, Sørensen E, Pedersen OB, Ullum H, , Masson G, Thorsteinsdottir U, Olesen J, Ludvigsson P, Thorarensen O, Bjornsdottir A, Sigurdardottir GR, Sveinsson OA, Ostrowski SR, Holm H, Gudbjartsson DF, Thorleifsson G, Sulem P, Stefansson H, Thorgeirsson TE, Hansen TF, Stefansson K


Migraine is a complex neurovascular disease with a range of severity and symptoms, yet mostly studied as one phenotype in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Here we combine large GWAS datasets from six European populations to study the main migraine subtypes, migraine with aura (MA) and migraine without aura (MO). We identified four new MA-associated variants (in PRRT2, PALMD, ABO and LRRK2) and classified 13 MO-associated variants. Rare variants with large effects highlight three genes. A rare frameshift variant in brain-expressed PRRT2 confers large risk of MA and epilepsy, but not MO. A burden test of rare loss-of-function variants in SCN11A, encoding a neuron-expressed sodium channel with a key role in pain sensation, shows strong protection against migraine. Finally, a rare variant with cis-regulatory effects on KCNK5 confers large protection against migraine and brain aneurysms. Our findings offer new insights with therapeutic potential into the complex biology of migraine and its subtypes.