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J Neurochem. 2009 Nov;111(3):837-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06372.x. Epub 2009 Sep 1.

Recessive hyperekplexia mutations of the glycine receptor alpha1 subunit affect cell surface integration and stability.

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  • 1Institut für Biochemie, Emil-Fischer-Zentrum, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.


The human neurological disorder hyperekplexia is frequently caused by recessive and dominant mutations of the glycine receptor alpha1 subunit gene, GLRA1. Dominant forms are mostly attributed to amino acid substitutions within the ion pore or adjacent loops, resulting in altered channel properties. Here, the biogenesis of glycine receptor alpha1 subunit mutants underlying recessive forms of hyperekplexia was analyzed following recombinant expression in HEK293 cells. The alpha1 mutant S231R resulted in a decrease of surface integrated protein, consistent with reduced maximal current values. Decreased maximal currents shown for the recessive alpha1 mutant I244N were associated with protein instability, rather than decreased surface integration. The recessive mutants R252H and R392H encode exchanges of arginine residues delineating the intracellular faces of transmembrane domains. After expression, the mutant R252H was virtually absent from the cell surface, consistent with non-functionality and the importance of the positive charge for membrane integration. Surface expression of R392H was highly reduced, resulting in residual chloride conductance. Independent of the site of the mutation within the alpha1 polypeptide, metabolic radiolabelling and pulse chase studies revealed a shorter half-life of the full-length alpha1 protein for all recessive mutants as compared to the wild-type. Treatment with the proteasome blocker, lactacystin, significantly increased the accumulation of alpha1 mutants in intracellular membranes. These observations indicated that the recessive alpha1 mutants are recognized by the endoplasmatic reticulum control system, and degraded via the proteasome pathway. Thus, the lack of glycinergic inhibition associated with recessive hyperekplexia may be attributed to sequestration of mutant subunits within the endoplasmatic reticulum quality control system.

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