Dravet syndrome is a severe, childhood-onset epilepsy largely due to heterozygous loss-of-function mutation of the gene SCN1A, which encodes the type 1 neuronal voltage-gated sodium (Na+) channel α subunit Nav1.1. Prior studies in mouse models of Dravet syndrome (Scn1a+/- mice) indicate that, in cerebral cortex, Nav1.1 is predominantly expressed in GABAergic interneurons, in particular in parvalbumin-positive fast-spiking basket cell interneurons (PVINs). This has led to a model of Dravet syndrome pathogenesis in which Nav1.1 mutation leads to preferential dysfunction of interneurons, decreased synaptic inhibition, hyperexcitability, and epilepsy. However, such studies have been implemented at early developmental time points. Here, we performed electrophysiological recordings in acute brain slices prepared from male and female Scn1a+/- mice as well as age-matched wild-type littermate controls and found that, later in development, the excitability of PVINs had normalized. Analysis of action potential waveforms indirectly suggests a reorganization of axonal Na+ channels in PVINs from Scn1a+/- mice, a finding supported by immunohistochemical data showing elongation of the axon initial segment. Our results imply that transient impairment of action potential generation by PVINs may contribute to the initial appearance of epilepsy, but is not the mechanism of ongoing, chronic epilepsy in Dravet syndrome. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Dravet syndrome is characterized by normal early development, temperature-sensitive seizures in infancy, progression to treatment-resistant epilepsy, developmental delay, autism, and sudden unexplained death due to mutation in SCN1A encoding the Na+ channel subunit Nav1.1. Prior work has revealed a preferential impact of Nav1.1 loss on the function of GABAergic inhibitory interneurons. However, such data derive exclusively from recordings of neurons in young Scn1a+/- mice. Here, we show that impaired action potential generation observed in parvalbumin-positive fast-spiking interneurons (PVINs) in Scn1a+/- mice during early development has normalized by postnatal day 35. This work suggests that a transient impairment of PVINs contributes to epilepsy onset, but is not the mechanism of ongoing, chronic epilepsy in Dravet syndrome.
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