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Neuron. 2000 May;26(2):307-12.

Autoimmunity to gephyrin in Stiff-Man syndrome.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Stiff-Man syndrome (SMS) is a rare disease of the central nervous system (CNS) characterized by chronic rigidity, spasms, and autoimmunity directed against synaptic antigens, most often the GABA-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). In a subset of cases, SMS has an autoimmune paraneoplastic origin. We report here the identification of high-titer autoantibodies directed against gephyrin in a patient with clinical features of SMS and mediastinal cancer. Gephyrin is a cytosolic protein selectively concentrated at the postsynaptic membrane of inhibitory synapses, where it is associated with GABA(A) and glycine receptors. Our findings provide new evidence for a close link between autoimmunity directed against components of inhibitory synapses and neurological conditions characterized by chronic rigidity and spasms.

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