[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hereditary hyperekplexia or startle disease is characterized by an exaggerated startle response, evoked by tactile or auditory stimuli, leading to hypertonia and apnea episodes. Missense, nonsense, frameshift, splice site mutations, and large deletions in the human glycine receptor α1 subunit gene (GLRA1) are the major known cause of this disorder. However, mutations are also found in the genes encoding the glycine receptor β subunit (GLRB) and the presynaptic Na(+)/Cl(-)-dependent glycine transporter GlyT2 (SLC6A5). In this study, systematic DNA sequencing of SLC6A5 in 93 new unrelated human hyperekplexia patients revealed 20 sequence variants in 17 index cases presenting with homozygous or compound heterozygous recessive inheritance. Five apparently unrelated cases had the truncating mutation R439X. Genotype-phenotype analysis revealed a high rate of neonatal apneas and learning difficulties associated with SLC6A5 mutations. From the 20 SLC6A5 sequence variants, we investigated glycine uptake for 16 novel mutations, confirming that all were defective in glycine transport. Although the most common mechanism of disrupting GlyT2 function is protein truncation, new pathogenic mechanisms included splice site mutations and missense mutations affecting residues implicated in Cl(-) binding, conformational changes mediated by extracellular loop 4, and cation-π interactions. Detailed electrophysiology of mutation A275T revealed that this substitution results in a voltage-sensitive decrease in glycine transport caused by lower Na(+) affinity. This study firmly establishes the combination of missense, nonsense, frameshift, and splice site mutations in the GlyT2 gene as the second major cause of startle disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two newborn Belgian Blue calves from a farm in the United Kingdom exhibited lateral recumbency, low head carriage and transient muscle spasms following tactile or auditory stimulation. DNA sequence analysis indicated that both calves were homozygous for the recessive congenital muscular dystonia type 2 (CMD2) mutation (c.809T>C, p.Leu270Pro) in SLC6A5, encoding the neuronal glycine transporter GlyT2. Further testing of animals from the index farm and a sample of Belgian Blue sires revealed an unexpectedly high frequency of CMD2 carriers. This implies that linked quantitative trait loci may be influencing the prevalence of CMD2 in the estimated 55,000 Belgian Blue cattle in the United Kingdom. We have therefore developed new inexpensive tests for the CMD2 allele that can be used to confirm diagnosis, identify carriers and guide future breeding strategy, thus avoiding animal distress/premature death and minimizing the future economic impact of this disorder.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human startle disease, also known as hyperekplexia (OMIM 149400), is a paroxysmal neurological disorder caused by defects in glycinergic neurotransmission. Hyperekplexia is characterised by an exaggerated startle reflex in response to tactile or acoustic stimuli which first presents as neonatal hypertonia, followed in some with episodes of life-threatening infantile apnoea. Genetic screening studies have demonstrated that hyperekplexia is genetically heterogeneous with several missense and nonsense mutations in the postsynaptic glycine receptor (GlyR) alpha1 subunit gene (GLRA1) as the primary cause. More recently, missense, nonsense and frameshift mutations have also been identified in the glycine transporter GlyT2 gene, SLC6A5, demonstrating a presynaptic component to this disease. Further mutations, albeit rare, have been identified in the genes encoding the GlyR beta subunit (GLRB), collybistin (ARHGEF9) and gephyrin (GPHN) - all of which are postsynaptic proteins involved in orchestrating glycinergic neurotransmission. In this review, we describe the clinical ascertainment aspects, phenotypic considerations and the downstream molecular genetic tools utilised to analyse both presynaptic and postsynaptic components of this heterogeneous human neurological disorder. Moreover, we will describe how the ancient startle response is the preserve of glycinergic neurotransmission and how animal models and human hyperekplexia patients have provided synergistic evidence that implicates this inhibitory system in the control of startle reflexes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycine is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the spinal cord and brainstem. Recently, in vivo analysis of glycinergic synaptic transmission has been pursued in zebrafish using molecular genetics. An ENU mutagenesis screen identified two behavioral mutants that are defective in glycinergic synaptic transmission. Zebrafish bandoneon (beo) mutants have a defect in glrbb, one of the duplicated glycine receptor (GlyR) beta subunit genes. These mutants exhibit a loss of glycinergic synaptic transmission due to a lack of synaptic aggregation of GlyRs. Due to the consequent loss of reciprocal inhibition of motor circuits between the two sides of the spinal cord, motor neurons activate simultaneously on both sides resulting in bilateral contraction of axial muscles of beo mutants, eliciting the so-called 'accordion' phenotype. Similar defects in GlyR subunit genes have been observed in several mammals and are the basis for human hyperekplexia/startle disease. By contrast, zebrafish shocked (sho) mutants have a defect in slc6a9, encoding GlyT1, a glycine transporter that is expressed by astroglial cells surrounding the glycinergic synapse in the hindbrain and spinal cord. GlyT1 mediates rapid uptake of glycine from the synaptic cleft, terminating synaptic transmission. In zebrafish sho mutants, there appears to be elevated extracellular glycine resulting in persistent inhibition of postsynaptic neurons and subsequent reduced motility, causing the 'twitch-once' phenotype. We review current knowledge regarding zebrafish 'accordion' and 'twitch-once' mutants, including beo and sho, and report the identification of a new alpha2 subunit that revises the phylogeny of zebrafish GlyRs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clustering of inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid(A) (GABA(A)) and glycine receptors at synapses is thought to involve key interactions between the receptors, a "scaffolding" protein known as gephyrin and the RhoGEF collybistin. We report the identification of a balanced chromosomal translocation in a female patient presenting with a disturbed sleep-wake cycle, late-onset epileptic seizures, increased anxiety, aggressive behavior, and mental retardation, but not hyperekplexia. Fine mapping of the breakpoint indicates disruption of the collybistin gene (ARHGEF9) on chromosome Xq11, while the other breakpoint lies in a region of 18q11 that lacks any known or predicted genes. We show that defective collybistin transcripts are synthesized and exons 7-10 are replaced by cryptic exons from chromosomes X and 18. These mRNAs no longer encode the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain of collybistin, which we now show binds phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI3P/PtdIns-3-P), a phosphoinositide with an emerging role in membrane trafficking and signal transduction, rather than phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP3/PtdIns-3,4,5-P) as previously suggested in the "membrane activation model" of gephyrin clustering. Consistent with this finding, expression of truncated collybistin proteins in cultured neurons interferes with synaptic localization of endogenous gephyrin and GABA(A) receptors. These results suggest that collybistin has a key role in membrane trafficking of gephyrin and selected GABA(A) receptor subtypes involved in epilepsy, anxiety, aggression, insomnia, and learning and memory.
Human Mutation 01/2009; 30(1):61-8. DOI:10.1002/humu.20814 · 5.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The widespread use of elite sires by means of artificial insemination in livestock breeding leads to the frequent emergence of recessive genetic defects, which cause significant economic and animal welfare concerns. Here we show that the availability of genome-wide, high-density SNP panels, combined with the typical structure of livestock populations, markedly accelerates the positional identification of genes and mutations that cause inherited defects. We report the fine-scale mapping of five recessive disorders in cattle and the molecular basis for three of these: congenital muscular dystony (CMD) types 1 and 2 in Belgian Blue cattle and ichthyosis fetalis in Italian Chianina cattle. Identification of these causative mutations has an immediate translation into breeding practice, allowing marker assisted selection against the defects through avoidance of at-risk matings.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Defects in mammalian glycinergic neurotransmission result in a complex motor disorder characterized by neonatal hypertonia and an exaggerated startle reflex, known as hyperekplexia (OMIM 149400). This affects newborn children and is characterized by noise or touch-induced seizures that result in muscle stiffness and breath-holding episodes. Although rare, this disorder can have serious consequences, including brain damage and/or sudden infant death. The primary cause of hyperekplexia is missense and non-sense mutations in the glycine receptor (GlyR) alpha1 subunit gene (GLRA1) on chromosome 5q33.1, although we have also discovered rare mutations in the genes encoding the GlyR beta subunit (GLRB) and the GlyR clustering proteins gephyrin (GPNH) and collybistin (ARHGEF9). Recent studies of the Na(+)/Cl(-)-dependent glycine transporters GlyT1 and GlyT2 using mouse knockout models and human genetics have revealed that mutations in GlyT2 are a second major cause of hyperekplexia, while the phenotype of the GlyT1 knockout mouse resembles a devastating neurological disorder known as glycine encephalopathy (OMIM 605899). These findings highlight the importance of these transporters in regulating the levels of synaptic glycine.