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Neuron. 1995 Jul;15(1):229-39.

Mutation of the acetylcholine receptor alpha subunit causes a slow-channel myasthenic syndrome by enhancing agonist binding affinity.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


In five members of a family and another unrelated person affected by a slow-channel congenital myasthenic syndrome (SCCMS), molecular genetic analysis of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) subunit genes revealed a heterozygous G to A mutation at nucleotide 457 of the alpha subunit, converting codon 153 from glycine to serine (alpha G153S). Electrophysiologic analysis of SCCMS end plates revealed prolonged decay of miniature end plate currents and prolonged activation episodes of single AChR channels. Engineered mutant AChR expressed in HEK fibroblasts exhibited prolonged activation episodes strikingly similar to those observed at the SCCMS end plates. Single-channel kinetic analysis of engineered alpha G153S AChR revealed a markedly decreased rate of ACh dissociation, which causes the mutant AChR to open repeatedly during ACh occupancy. In addition, ACh binding measurements combined with the kinetic analysis indicated increased desensitization of the mutant AChR. Thus, ACh binding affinity can dictate the time course of the synaptic response, and alpha G153 contributes to the low binding affinity for ACh needed to speed the decay of the synaptic response.

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