Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 27028707
J. Physiol. (Lond.) 2016 Mar;
KEY POINTS: Hyperekplexia or startle disease is a serious neurological condition affecting newborn children and usually involves dysfunctional glycinergic neurotransmission. Glycine receptors (GlyRs) are major mediators of inhibition in the spinal cord and brainstem. A missense mutation, replacing asparagine (N) with lysine (K), at position 46 in the GlyR α1 subunit induced hyperekplexia following a reduction in the potency of the transmitter glycine. This resulted from a rapid deactivation of the agonist current at mutant GlyRs. These effects of N46K were rescued by mutating a juxtaposed residue, N61 on binding Loop D, suggesting these two asparagines may interact. Asparagine 46 is considered to be important for the structural stability of the subunit interface and glycine binding site. Its mutation represents a new mechanism by which GlyR dysfunction induces startle disease.
ABSTRACT: Dysfunctional glycinergic inhibitory transmission underlies the debilitating neurological condition, hyperekplexia, which is characterised by exaggerated startle reflexes, muscle hypertonia and apnoea. Here we investigated the N46K missense mutation in the GlyR α1 subunit gene found in the ethylnitrosourea (ENU) murine mutant, Nmf11, which causes reduced body size, evoked tremor, seizures, muscle stiffness, and morbidity by postnatal day 21. Introducing the N46K mutation into recombinant GlyR α1 homomeric receptors, expressed in HEK cells, reduced the potencies of glycine, β-alanine and taurine by 9-, 6- and 3-fold respectively, and that of the competitive antagonist strychnine by 15-fold. Replacing N46 with hydrophobic, charged or polar residues revealed that the amide moiety of asparagine was crucial for GlyR activation. Co-mutating N61, located on a neighbouring β loop to N46, rescued the wild-type phenotype depending on the amino acid charge. Single-channel recording identified that burst length for the N46K mutant was reduced and fast agonist application revealed faster glycine deactivation times for the N46K mutant compared with the WT receptor. Overall, these data are consistent with N46 ensuring correct alignment of the α1 subunit interface by interaction with juxtaposed residues to preserve the structural integrity of the glycine binding site. This represents a new mechanism by which GlyR dysfunction induces startle disease. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27028707