Article

Novel pharmacological modulation of dystonic phenotypes caused by a gain-of-function mutation in the Na+ leak-current channel

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Abstract

The Na leak-current channel (NALCN) regulates the resting membrane potential in excitable cells, thus determining the likelihood of depolarization in response to incoming signals. Gain-of-function (gf) mutations in this channel are associated with severe dystonic movement disorders in man. Currently, there are no known pharmacological antagonists or selective modulators of this important channel. A gain-of-function mutation in NALCN of C. elegans [known as unc-77(e625)] causes uncoordinated, hyperactive locomotion. We hypothesized that this hyperactive phenotype can be rescued with pharmacological modulators. Here, we summarize the results of targeted drug screening aimed at identification of drugs that corrected locomotion deficits in unc-77(e625) animals. To assay hyperactive locomotion, animals were acutely removed from food and characteristic foraging movements were quantified. Drug screening revealed that 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-ABP), nifedipine, nimodipine, flunarizine and ethoxzolamide significantly decreased abnormal movements in unc-77(e625) animals. 2-APB also corrected egg release and coiling deficits in this strain. In addition, serotonin and dopamine both reduced hyperactive locomotion, consistent with regulatory interactions between these systems and the NALCN. 2-APB induced movement phenotypes in wild-type animals that faithfully mimicked those observed in NALCN knockout strains, which suggested that this drug may directly block the channel. Moreover, 2-APB and flunarizine showed significant structural similarities suggestive of overlap in their mode of action. Together, these studies have revealed new insights into regulation of NALCN function and led to the discovery of a potential pharmacological antagonist of the NALCN.

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... To date, there were no efficient treatments for CLIFAHDD, except for symptomatic treatments, such as clonazepam for seizures (24), acetazolamide for episodic ataxia (16), and surgical procedures for arthrogryposis (27). A 2aminoethoxydiphenyl borate and a flunarizine could rescue the hyperactive phenotype of C. elegans caused by NALCN gainof-function variants or it might serve as a direct blocker of the channel (28). However, further validation was needed for clinical implementation. ...
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Objective: To perform genotype-phenotype analysis in an infant with congenital arthrogryposis due to a de novo missense mutation in the NALCN ion channel and explore the mechanism of pathogenicity using a Caenorhabditis elegans model. Methods: We performed whole-exome sequencing in a preterm neonate with congenital arthrogryposis and a severe life-threatening clinical course. We examined the mechanism of pathogenicity of the associated NALCN mutation by engineering the orthologous mutation into the nematode C elegans using CRISPR-Cas9. Results: We identified a de novo missense mutation in NALCN, c.1768C>T, in an infant with a severe neonatal lethal form of the recently characterized CLIFAHDD syndrome (congenital contractures of the limbs and face with hypotonia and developmental delay). We report novel phenotypic features including prolonged episodes of stimulus-sensitive sustained muscular contraction associated with life-threatening episodes of desaturation and autonomic instability, extending the severity of previously described phenotypes associated with mutations in NALCN. When engineered into the C elegans ortholog, this mutation results in a severe gain-of-function phenotype, with hypercontraction and uncoordinated movement. We engineered 6 additional CLIFAHDD syndrome mutations into C elegans and the mechanism of action could be divided into 2 categories: half phenocopied gain-of-function mutants and half phenocopied loss-of-function mutants. Conclusions: The clinical phenotype of our patient and electrophysiologic studies show sustained muscular contraction in response to transient sensory stimuli. In C elegans, this mutation causes neuronal hyperactivity via a gain-of-function NALCN ion channel. Testing human variants of NALCN in C elegans demonstrates that CLIFAHDD can be caused by dominant loss- or gain-of-function mutations in ion channel function.
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Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, or distal arthrogryposis type 2A (DA2A), is an autosomal-dominant condition caused by mutations in MYH3 and characterized by multiple congenital contractures of the face and limbs and normal cognitive development. We identified a subset of five individuals who had been putatively diagnosed with "DA2A with severe neurological abnormalities" and for whom congenital contractures of the limbs and face, hypotonia, and global developmental delay had resulted in early death in three cases; this is a unique condition that we now refer to as CLIFAHDD syndrome. Exome sequencing identified missense mutations in the sodium leak channel, non-selective (NALCN) in four families affected by CLIFAHDD syndrome. We used molecular-inversion probes to screen for NALCN in a cohort of 202 distal arthrogryposis (DA)-affected individuals as well as concurrent exome sequencing of six other DA-affected individuals, thus revealing NALCN mutations in ten additional families with "atypical" forms of DA. All 14 mutations were missense variants predicted to alter amino acid residues in or near the S5 and S6 pore-forming segments of NALCN, highlighting the functional importance of these segments. In vitro functional studies demonstrated that NALCN alterations nearly abolished the expression of wild-type NALCN, suggesting that alterations that cause CLIFAHDD syndrome have a dominant-negative effect. In contrast, homozygosity for mutations in other regions of NALCN has been reported in three families affected by an autosomal-recessive condition characterized mainly by hypotonia and severe intellectual disability. Accordingly, mutations in NALCN can cause either a recessive or dominant condition characterized by varied though overlapping phenotypic features, perhaps based on the type of mutation and affected protein domain(s). Copyright © 2015 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Mutations in various genes adversely affect locomotion in model organisms, and thus provide valuable clues about the complex processes that control movement. In C. elegans, loss-of-function mutations in the Na(+) leak current channel (NALCN) and associated proteins (UNC-79 and UNC-80) cause akinesia and fainting (abrupt freezing of movement during escape from touch). It is not known how defects in the NALCN induce these phenotypes or if they are chronic and irreversible. Here, we report that akinesia and freezing are state-dependent and reversible in NALCN-deficient mutants (nca-1;nca-2, unc-79 and unc-80) when additional cation channels substitute for this protein. Two main measures of locomotion were evaluated: spontaneous movement (traversal of > 2 head lengths during a 5 sec observation period) and the touch-freeze response (movement greater than 3 body bends in response to tail touch). Food deprivation for as little as 3 min stimulated spontaneous movement and corrected the touch-freeze response. Conversely, food-deprived animals that moved normally in the absence of bacteria rapidly reverted to uncoordinated movement when re-exposed to food. The effects of food deprivation were mimicked by nicotine, which suggested that acetylcholine mediated the response. Nicotine appeared to act on interneurons or motor neurons rather than directly at the neuromuscular junction because levamisole, which stimulates muscle contraction, did not correct movement. Neural circuits have been proposed to account for the effects of food deprivation and nicotine on spontaneous movement and freezing. The NALCN may play an unrecognized role in human movement disorders characterized by akinesia and freezing gait.
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This chapter discusses the interactions between drugs and gene products in Caenorhabditis elegans in genetic pharmacology. Caenorhabditis elegans has been a popular organism for the study of drug action. This chapter discusses the methods that used in compound-based studies of C. elegans and evaluates the effects of compounds on C. elegans growth, development, metabolism, and behavior. The strategies for the isolation, and analysis of drug-resistant and hypersensitive mutants are discussed. Studies combining bioactive compounds and C. elegans can be separated based on experimental strategy. The first strategy employs compounds with known modes of action to characterize particular aspects of C. elegans biology in wild type and mutant animals. The second strategy uses active compounds as screening or selective agents to isolate new drug-resistant or hypersensitive mutants and, thus, to identify genes with altered drug responses. Study of such compound-specific mutants can identify specific drug targets, and/or provide insight into the mechanism of drug action and the sites of drug action. The third strategy involves the use of C. elegans, both wild type and selected mutants, to analyze the mechanism of action of uncharacterized or poorly characterized compounds. This has led to the use of C. elegans as a primary screen for compounds active against parasitic nematodes.
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: The binding of [3H]nimodipine to purified synaptic plasma membranes (SPM) isolated from sheep brain cortex was characterized, and the effects of nimodipine, nifedipine, and (+)-verapamil on the [3H]nimodipine binding were compared to the effects on 45Ca2+ translocation under conditions that separate 45Ca2+ fluxes through Ca2+ channels from 45Ca2+ uptake via Na+/Ca2+ exchange. [3H]Nimodipine labels a single class of sites in SPM, with a KD of 0.64 ± 0.1 nM, a Bmax of 161 ± 27 fmol.mg-1 protein, and a Hill slope of 1.07, at 25°C. Competition of [3H]nimodipine binding to purified SPM with unlabelled Ca2+ channel blockers shows that: (1) nifedipine and nimodipine are potent competitors, with IC50 values of 4.7 nM and 5.9 nM, respectively; (2) verapamil and (-)-D 600 are partial competitors, with biphasic competition behavior. Thus, (+)verapamil shows an IC50 of 708 nM for the higher affinity component and the maximal inhibition is 50% of the specific binding, whereas for (-)-verapamil the IC50 is 120 nM, and the maximal inhibition is 30%; (-)-D 600 is even less potent than verapamil in inhibiting [3H]nimodipine binding (IC50= 430 nM). However, (+)-verapamil, nifedipine, and nimodipine are less potent in inhibiting depolarization-induced 45Ca2+ influx into synaptosomes in the absence of Na+/Ca2+ exchange than in competing for [3H]nimodipine binding. Thus, (+)-verapamil inhibits Ca2+ influx by 50% at about 500 μM, whereas it inhibits 50% of the binding at concentrations 200-fold lower, and the discrepancy is even larger for the dihydropyridines. The Na+/Ca2+ exchange and the ATP-dependent Ca2+ uptake by SPM vesicles are also inhibited by the Ca2+ channel blockers verapamil, nifedipine, and d-cis-diltiazem, with similar IC50 values and in the same concentration range (10-5-10-3M) at which they inhibit Ca2+ influx through Ca2+ channels. We conclude that high-affinity binding of the Ca2+ blockers by SPM is not correlated with inhibition of the Ca2+ fluxes through channels in synaptosomes under conditions of minimal Na+/Ca2+ exchange. Furthermore, the relatively high concentrations of blockers required to block the channels also inhibit Ca2+ translocation through the Ca2+-ATPase and the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. In this study, clear differentiation is made of the effects of the Ca2+ channel blockers on these three mechanisms of moving Ca2+ across the synaptosomal membrane, and particular care is taken to separate the contribution of the Na+/Ca2+ exchange from that of the Ca2+ channels under conditions of K+ depolarization.
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Background: Infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD) is a recessive disease that results in total neurological degeneration and death in childhood. PLA2G6 mutation is the underlying genetic defect, but rare genetic heterogeneity has been demonstrated. One of the five families we studied did not link to PLA2G6 locus, and in the family one of the two affected siblings additionally had atypical features including facial dysmorphism, pectus carinatum, scoliosis, pes varus, zygodactyly and bilateral cryptorchidism as well as cerebellar atrophy, as previously reported. Methods: Sural biopsy was investigated by electron microscopy. PLA2G6 was screened for mutations by Sanger sequencing. In the mutation-free family, candidate disease loci were found via linkage analysis using data from single nucleotide polymorphism genome scans. Exome sequencing was applied to find the variants at the loci. Results: PLA2G6 mutations were identified in four families including the one with an unusually severe phenotype that led to death within the first 2 years of life. In the remaining family, seven candidate loci totalling 15.2 Mb were found and a homozygous truncating mutation p.Q642X was identified in NALCN at 13q32.3. The patients are around 20-years-old. Conclusions: NALCN is the gene responsible for INAD with facial dysmorphism. The patients have lived to adulthood despite severe growth and neuromotor retardation. NALCN forms a voltage-independent ion channel with a role in the regulation of neuronal excitability. Our findings broaden the spectrum of genes associated with neuroaxonal dystrophy. Testing infants with idiopathic severe growth retardation and neurodegeneration for NALCN mutations could benefit families.
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The molecular modes of action of antipsychotic drugs are poorly understood beyond their effects at the dopamine D2 receptor. Previous studies have placed Akt signaling downstream of D2 dopamine receptors, and recent data have suggested an association between psychotic illnesses and defective Akt signaling. To characterize the effect of antipsychotic drugs on the Akt pathway, we used the model organism C. elegans, a simple system where the Akt/forkhead box O transcription factor (FOXO) pathway has been well characterized. All major classes of antipsychotic drugs increased signaling through the insulin/Akt/FOXO pathway, whereas four other drugs that are known to affect the central nervous system did not. The antipsychotic drugs inhibited dauer formation, dauer recovery, and shortened lifespan, three biological processes affected by Akt signaling. Genetic analysis showed that AKT-1 and the insulin and insulin-like growth factor receptor, DAF-2, were required for the antipsychotic drugs to increase signaling. Serotonin synthesis was partially involved, whereas the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK), SEK-1 is a MAP kinase kinase (MAPKK), and calcineurin were not involved. This is the first example of a common but specific molecular effect produced by all presently known antipsychotic drugs in any biological system. Because untreated schizophrenics have been reported to have low levels of Akt signaling, increased Akt signaling might contribute to the therapeutic actions of antipsychotic drugs.
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Extracellular K⁺, Na⁺, and Ca²⁺ ions all influence the resting membrane potential of the neuron. However, the mechanisms by which extracellular Na⁺ and Ca²⁺ regulate basal neuronal excitability are not well understood. Recent findings suggest that NALCN, in association with UNC79 and UNC80, contributes a basal Na⁺ leak conductance in neurons. Mutations in Nalcn, Unc79, or Unc80 lead to severe phenotypes that include neonatal lethality and disruption in rhythmic behaviors. This review discusses the properties of the NALCN complex, its regulation, and its contribution to neuronal function and animal behavior.
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Whole cell clamp experiments were used to study the mechanism of action of amiloride on cardiac T-type Ca channels in guinea pig ventricular myocytes. Two hundred fifty microM amiloride blocked the T-type Ca channel for approximately 50%, whereas this concentration did not suppress the L-type Ca channel. The Kd value for the block of the T-type Ca channel was 233 microM and the Hill coefficient was 1.1. The drug showed a rapid onset of action and a quick wash out with complete reversibility. Amiloride blocked the T-type Ca channel without frequency-dependency, i.e., block was established at the holding potential (-90 mV) without being dependent on activation and inactivation of the channel. Amiloride reduced the amplitude of the T-type Ca current at all potentials without changing steady-state activation and inactivation. Amiloride did not affect the T-type Ca current when the drug was applied intracellularly via the pipette solution. In summary, amiloride blocked the T-type Ca channel in a channel state- and voltage-independent way.
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The binding of [3H]nimodipine to purified synaptic plasma membranes (SPM) isolated from sheep brain cortex was characterized, and the effects of nimodipine, nifedipine, and (+)-verapamil on the [3H]nimodipine binding were compared to the effects on 45Ca2+ translocation under conditions that separate 45Ca2+ fluxes through Ca2+ channels from 45Ca2+ uptake via Na+/Ca2+ exchange. [3H]Nimodipine labels a single class of sites in SPM, with a KD of 0.64 +/- 0.1 nM, a Bmax of 161 +/- 27 fmol X mg-1 protein, and a Hill slope of 1.07, at 25 degrees C. Competition of [3H]nimodipine binding to purified SPM with unlabelled Ca2+ channel blockers shows that: nifedipine and nimodipine are potent competitors, with IC50 values of 4.7 nM and 5.9 nM, respectively; verapamil and (-)-D 600 are partial competitors, with biphasic competition behavior. Thus, (+)-verapamil shows an IC50 of 708 nM for the higher affinity component and the maximal inhibition is 50% of the specific binding, whereas for (-)-verapamil the IC50 is 120 nM, and the maximal inhibition is 30%; (-)-D 600 is even less potent than verapamil in inhibiting [3H]nimodipine binding (IC50 = 430 nM). However, (+)-verapamil, nifedipine, and nimodipine are less potent in inhibiting depolarization-induced 45Ca2+ influx into synaptosomes in the absence of Na+/Ca2+ exchange than in competing for [3H]nimodipine binding. Thus, (+)-verapamil inhibits Ca2+ influx by 50% at about 500 microM, whereas it inhibits 50% of the binding at concentrations 200-fold lower, and the discrepancy is even larger for the dihydropyridines. The Na+/Ca2+ exchange and the ATP-dependent Ca2+ uptake by SPM vesicles are also inhibited by the Ca2+ channel blockers verapamil, nifedipine, and d-cis-diltiazem, with similar IC50 values and in the same concentration range (10(-5)-10(-3) M) at which they inhibit Ca2+ influx through Ca2+ channels. We conclude that high-affinity binding of the Ca2+ blockers by SPM is not correlated with inhibition of the Ca2+ fluxes through channels in synaptosomes under conditions of minimal Na+/Ca2+ exchange. Furthermore, the relatively high concentrations of blockers required to block the channels also inhibit Ca2+ translocation through the Ca2+-ATPase and the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. In this study, clear differentiation is made of the effects of the Ca2+ channel blockers on these three mechanisms of moving Ca2+ across the synaptosomal membrane, and particular care is taken to separate the contribution of the Na+/Ca2+ exchange from that of the Ca2+ channels under conditions of K+ depolarization.
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The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans appears to be a useful model for studying the action of volatile anesthetics. A mutant strain that is hypersensitive to the widely used anesthetic halothane was described earlier. The mutation is now shown to be an allele of unc-79. Other alleles of unc-79 are also associated with hypersensitivity to halothane. A strain with a mutation in a second gene, unc-80, is also hypersensitive to halothane. Nematodes bearing mutations in both unc-79 and unc-80 are slightly more sensitive to halothane than those bearing only one of these mutations. Mutations in a third gene, unc-9, suppress both unc-79 and unc-80. Nematodes bearing the suppressor mutations alone have normal sensitivity to halothane. These results show that sensitivity to halothane can be altered by mutations in several different genes.
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The body muscles of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans contract when the animal is cut in solutions of cholinergic agonists. The pharmacological specificity of the apparent nematode cholinergic receptor is most like a vertebrate nicotink ganglionic receptor. The anthelmintic levamisole resembles nicotine in its effects and acts directly or indirectly as both a cholinergic agonist and antagonist. Mutants at 7 loci conferring extreme resistance to levamisole respond very poorly to cholinergic agonists effective on the wild type. These mutants all share the same uncoordinated motor behavior and contract like the wild type in response to the noncholinergic muscle agonist ouabain. The uncoordinated motor behavior of the mutants and the resistance to levamisole and cholinergic agonists can be copied by exposing the wild type to the cholinergic blocking agent mecamylamine. Another class of mutants (8 loci, 5 corresponding to loci also producing extremely resistant alleles) possesses intermediate resistance to levamisole and cholinergic agonists and behaves pharmacologically and genetically like mutants moderately impaired in the levamisole-sensitive function. A third class of mutants (2 loci) with spasmodic muscle twitching is partially resistant to cholinergic agonists and to ouabain and probably represents defects in the muscle-contraction cycle physiologically downstream from the levamisole-sensitive function. Meta-phenyl-substituted derivatives of levamisole retain considerable biological activity and may be useful in the molecular analysis of our mutants. α-bungarotoxin, benzyltrimethyl-ammonium, and 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, potential probes of cholinergic receptor function, do not show significant activity in our cut worm assay.
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Patients with interstitial deletions of the long arm of chromosome 13 may have widely varying phenotypes. From cytogenetic analysis, we have postulated that there is a discrete region in 13q32 where deletion leads to a syndrome of severe malformations, including digital and brain anomalies. To test this hypothesis at the molecular level, we have studied the deletions in 17 patients; 5 had severe malformations, while the remaining 12 had only minor malformations. Our results indicate that the deletions in the severely affected patients all involve an overlapping region in q32, while the deletions in the mildly affected patients include some, but not all, of this overlapping region. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the severely malformed 13q- phenotype results from the deletion of a critical region in 13q32. This region is presently defined as lying between D13S136 and D13S147 and is on the order of 1 Mb in size.
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The class III antiarrhythmic drugs amiodarone and bretylium tosylate are cationic/amphiphilic, and various substances with these physico-chemical properties are known to directly activate heterotrimeric regulatory G proteins. We asked the question of whether class III antiarrhythmic drugs are also direct G protein activators, using HL-60 leukemic cells and purified bovine brain G proteins as model systems. In HL-60 cell membranes, aminodarone increased high affinity GTP hydrolysis with an EC50 of 7.5 microM. The stimulatory effect of amiodarone on GTP hydrolysis was inhibited by pertussis toxin. Amiodarone stimulated binding of guanosine-5'-O-(3-thio)triphosphate to, and incorporation of GTP azidoanilide into, Gi protein alpha subunits in HL-60 membranes. The drug increased the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration in HL-60 cells in the presence but not in the absence of extracellular Ca2+. Amiodarone-induced increases in the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration were reduced by pertussis toxin and by a blocker of non-selective cation channels, SK&F 96365. Amiodarone activated the GTPase of reconstituted Gi/G(o) proteins and G12 with EC50 values of 20 microM and 50 microM, respectively. Bretylium tosylate did not increase GTP hydrolysis in HL-60 membranes or with Gi/G(o) proteins. Our data suggest that amiodarone but not bretylium tosylate is a direct activator of Gi and G(o) proteins and that amiodarone activates nonselective cation channels in HL-60 cells via Gi proteins and independently of Ca2+ mobilization from intracellular stores. Future studies will have to test the hypothesis that direct G protein activation by amiodarone contributes to its toxic and/or therapeutic effects.
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The first-generation histamine H1-receptor antagonists, chlorpheniramine (CPHE) and diphenhydramine (DPH), may activate histamine release from basophils and mast cells. Because CPHE and DPH are cationic-amphiphilic and because several substances with such physicochemical properties activate heterotrimeric regulatory guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G-proteins) in a receptor-independent manner, we asked the question of whether or not H1-receptor antagonists could be G-protein activators as well. In dibutyryl cAMP-differentiated HL-60 cells, CPHE and DPH increased cytosolic Ca2+ concentration and azurophilic granule release in pertussis toxin (PTX)-sensitive manners. In HL-60 membranes, PTX-sensitive stimulations of GTPase [E.C. 3.6.1.] and binding of guanosine 5'-[gamma-thio]triphosphate by H1 receptor antagonists were observed. CPHE and DPH also increased GTP hydrolysis by the purified PTX-sensitive G-protein, transducin. In all-trans-retinoic acid-differentiated HL-60 cells and rat basophilic leukemia cells (RBL 2H3 cells), H1-receptor antagonists induced, unlike in dibutyryl cAMP-differentiated HL-60 cells, Ca2+ influx without Ca2+ mobilization from intracellular stores. CPHE and DPH also induced serotonin release from RBL 2H3 cells. Our data indicate that first-generation H1-receptor antagonists are receptor-independent G-protein activators and that such a mechanism of action accounts for their stimulatory effects in HL-60 cells, basophils, and mast cells.
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Unlabelled: PROPERTIES OF MIBEFRADIL: Mibefradil is a novel calcium channel antagonist with structural and pharmacological characteristics clearly distinct from those of classical calcium antagonists. It is a potent vasodilator with a high selectivity for the coronary vasculature over the peripheral vasculature and the myocardium. Most importantly, this compound can relax vascular muscle and slow the heart rate without reducing cardiac contractility. In addition, it does not stimulate neurohormonal reflexes and it exhibits a good pharmacological profile characterized by a long duration of action. Mechanism of action: The mechanism of action of mibefradil is characterized by the selective blockade of transient, low-voltage-activated (T-type) calcium channels over long-lasting, high-voltage-activated (L-type) calcium channels, which is probably responsible for many of its unique properties. CLINICAL USE OF MIBEFRADIL: Although calcium antagonists are mainly used for the treatment of hypertension and angina pectoris, there is strong preclinical evidence that mibefradil may also be beneficial in the treatment of congestive heart failure.
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The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype of glutamate receptor is important for synaptic plasticity and nervous system development and function. We have used genetic and electrophysiological methods to demonstrate that NMR-1, a Caenorhabditis elegans NMDA-type ionotropic glutamate receptor subunit, plays a role in the control of movement and foraging behavior. nmr-1 mutants show a lower probability of switching from forward to backward movement and a reduced ability to navigate a complex environment. Electrical recordings from the interneuron AVA show that NMDA-dependent currents are selectively disrupted in nmr-1 mutants. We also show that a slowly desensitizing variant of a non-NMDA receptor can rescue the nmr-1 mutant phenotype. We propose that NMDA receptors in C. elegans provide long-lived currents that modulate the frequency of movement reversals during foraging behavior.
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A unique family of putative ion channels that are related to voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels has been identified in genomic and cDNA studies of metazoans. Aside from evidence for expression of family members in the nervous system, little is known about the operation of the channel or its functional significance. In the present study, this conserved family's sole Drosophila member, a gene known both as CG1517 and as Dmalpha1U, is shown to correspond to the narrow abdomen (na) gene and is the locus of a set of mutations that affect sensitivity to anesthetics. Immunohistochemistry of adult heads reveals that the channel is expressed in the neuropil of the central complex and optic lobe; expression is severely depressed in the mutants. In addition to previously described defects, the mutant phenotype is demonstrated here to include dysfunction in the coupling between light and locomotor behavior. Most dramatically, mutant flies have an inversion of relative locomotor activity in light versus dark. The involvement of the channel in daily rhythms of the fruit fly is especially provocative because the human ortholog lies in a candidate region linked to bipolar disorder, a disease frequently associated with altered diurnal behavior.
Article
Caenorhabditis elegans explores its environment by interrupting its forward movement with occasional turns and reversals. Turns and reversals occur at stable frequencies but irregular intervals, producing probabilistic exploratory behaviors. Here we dissect the roles of individual sensory neurons, interneurons, and motor neurons in exploratory behaviors under different conditions. After animals are removed from bacterial food, they initiate a local search behavior consisting of reversals and deep omega-shaped turns triggered by AWC olfactory neurons, ASK gustatory neurons, and AIB interneurons. Over the following 30 min, the animals disperse as reversals and omega turns are suppressed by ASI gustatory neurons and AIY interneurons. Interneurons and motor neurons downstream of AIB and AIY encode specific aspects of reversal and turn frequency, amplitude, and directionality. SMD motor neurons help encode the steep amplitude of omega turns, RIV motor neurons specify the ventral bias of turns that follow a reversal, and SMB motor neurons set the amplitude of sinusoidal movement. Many of these sensory neurons, interneurons, and motor neurons are also implicated in chemotaxis and thermotaxis. Thus, this circuit may represent a common substrate for multiple navigation behaviors. • chemosensation • exploratory behavior • neural circuit
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The inhibitory and relaxant effects of the L-type calcium antagonists nifedipine, nimodipine, verapamil and diltiazem, and of the T-type calcium antagonist mibefradil, on contractions of isolated human detrusor muscle were investigated. The tissue was obtained from 10 patients undergoing cystectomy due to bladder cancer. Effects of the calcium antagonists at different concentrations on the concentration-response curves for carbachol were investigated. Furthermore, concentration-relaxation curves were performed using potassium-precontracted muscle strips. All L-type calcium antagonists suppressed the mean concentration-response curve of carbachol significantly at a concentration of 10(-6) M. Mibefradil up to 10(-5) M did not significantly suppress it. Nifedipine significantly reduced the carbachol-induced maximum contraction to 75% and 44%, verapamil to 75% and 67% of the appropriate control value at concentrations of 10(-7) and 10(-6) M, respectively. Diltiazem reduced it insignificantly to 96% and 71% at the above-mentioned concentrations. The concentration-relaxation experiments revealed following pD2-values and maximum relaxations of nifedipine, nimodipine, verapamil and diltiazem, respectively: 6.23, 6.37, 5.66, 5.81 and 85%, 83%, 82%, 90%. Maximum relaxations and pD2-values were not significantly different from each other. The lowest concentration, for which a significant effect compared to control in Student;s t-test was found, amounted to 10(-10) M, 10(-9) M, 10(-7) M, 10(-6.5) M and 10(-4) M for nimodipine, nifedipine, diltiazem, verapamil and mibefradil, respectively. L-type calcium antagonists are very potent relaxant agents of the human detrusor muscle in vitro.
Article
The action of 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB) on Ca(2+) signalling in HeLa cells and cardiac myocytes was investigated. Consistent with other studies, we found that superfusion of cells with 2-APB rapidly inhibited inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP(3))-mediated Ca(2+) release and store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOC). In addition to abrogating hormone-evoked Ca(2+) responses, 2-APB could antagonise Ca(2+) signals evoked by a membrane permeant InsP(3) ester. 2-APB also slowed the recovery of intracellular Ca(2+) signals consistent with an effect on Ca(2+) ATPases. The inhibitory action of 2-APB on InsP(3) receptors (InsP(3)Rs), SOC channels and Ca(2+) pumps persisted for several minutes after washout of the compound. Application of 2-APB to unstimulated cells had no effect on subsequent Ca(2+) responses suggesting that it has a use-dependent action. Mitochondria in cells treated with 2-APB showed a rapid and slowly reversible swelling. 2-APB did not cause the mitochondria to depolarise, but it reduced the extent of mitochondrial calcium uptake. Although 2-APB has been demonstrated not to affect voltage-operated Ca(2+) channels or ryanodine receptors, we found that it gave a concentration-dependent long-lasting inhibition of Ca(2+) signalling in electrically-stimulated cardiac myocytes, where InsP(3)Rs and SOC channels do not play a significant role. Our data suggest that 2-APB has multiple cellular targets, a use-dependent action, is difficult to reverse and may affect Ca(2+) signalling in cell types where InsP(3) and SOC are not active.
Article
Antipsychotic drugs may produce adverse effects during development in humans and rodents. However, the extent of these effects has not been systematically characterized nor have molecular mechanisms been identified. Consequently, we sought to evaluate the effects of an extensive panel of antipsychotic drugs in a model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans, whose development is well characterized and which offers the possibility of identifying novel molecular targets. For these studies, animals were grown from hatching in the presence of vehicle (control) or antipsychotic drugs over a range of concentrations (20-160microM) and growth was analyzed by measuring head-to-tail length at various intervals. First-generation antipsychotics (e.g., fluphenazine) generally slowed growth and maturation more than second-generation drugs such as quetiapine and olanzapine. This is consistent with in vitro effects on human neuronal cell lines. Clozapine, a second-generation drug, produced similar growth deficits as haloperidol. Converging lines of evidence, including the failure to rescue growth with high concentrations of agonists, suggested that the drug-induced delay in development was not mediated by the major neurotransmitter receptors recognized by the antipsychotic drugs. Moreover, in serotonin-deficient tph-1 mutants, the drugs dramatically slowed development and led to larval arrest (including dauer formation) and neuronal abnormalities. Evaluation of alternative targets of the antipsychotics revealed a potential role for calmodulin and underscored the significance of Ca(2+)-calmodulin signaling in development. These findings suggest that antipsychotic drugs may interfere with normal developmental processes and provide a tool for investigating the key signaling pathways involved.
Article
2-Aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB), an inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor modulator, inhibits capacitive current transients measured in normal rat kidney and human embryonic kidney 293 cells, an indication of blocking gap junction channels between these cells. Here, we used the dual whole-cell patch-clamp method to study the actions of 2-APB on gap junction channels formed by selected connexins expressed in a communication-deficient neuroblastoma cell line (N2A). 2-APB dose-dependently and reversibly blocked junctional currents of connexin (Cx) 50 gap junction channels. The concentration-inhibition curve of 2-APB on the junctional current indicated an IC(50) of 3.7 microM, lower than that of most gap junction inhibitors. At a concentration of 20 microM, 2-APB also significantly blocked junctional conductance in cell pairs coupled by Cx26, Cx30, Cx36, Cx40, and Cx45 but did not appreciably affect coupling in cell pairs expressing Cx32, Cx43, and Cx46. Although concentration inhibition curves of 2-APB on Cx36 channels were similar to Cx50 (Cx36; IC(50), 3.0 microM), IC(50) values were higher for Cx43 (51.6 microM), Cx45 (18.1 microM), and Cx46 (29.4 microM). The blocking action of 2-APB did not substantially alter transjunctional voltage-dependent gating of Cx50 gap junction channels, and recordings from poorly coupled pairs of Cx50-transfected N2A cells indicated that 2-APB reduced gap junction channel open probability without changing the main state single-channel conductance. The differential efficacy of block by 2-APB of gap junction channels formed by different connexins may provide a useful tool that could be exploited in gap junction research to selectively block certain gap junction channel subtypes.
Article
Volatile anesthetics like halothane and enflurane are of interest to clinicians and neuroscientists because of their ability to preferentially disrupt higher functions that make up the conscious state. All volatiles were once thought to act identically; if so, they should be affected equally by genetic variants. However, mutations in two distinct genes, one in Caenorhabditis and one in Drosophila, have been reported to produce much larger effects on the response to halothane than enflurane [1 • Morgan P.G. • Sedensky M. • Meneely P.M. Multiple sites of action of volatile anesthetics in Caenorhabditis elegans.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 1990; 87: 2965-2969 • Crossref • PubMed • Scopus (90) • Google Scholar , 2 • Campbell D.B. • Nash H.A. Use of Drosophila mutants to distinguish among volatile general anesthetics.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 1994; 91: 2135-2139 • Crossref • PubMed • Scopus (66) • Google Scholar ]. To see whether this anesthesia signature is adventitious or fundamental, we have identified orthologs of each gene and determined the mutant phenotype within each species. The fly gene, narrow abdomen (na), encodes a putative ion channel whose sequence places it in a unique family; the nematode gene, unc-79, is identified here as encoding a large cytosolic protein that lacks obvious motifs. In Caenorhabditis, mutations that inactivate both of the na orthologs produce an Unc-79 phenotype; in Drosophila, mutations that inactivate the unc-79 ortholog produce an na phenotype. In each organism, studies of double mutants place the genes in the same pathway, and biochemical studies show that proteins of the UNC-79 family control NA protein levels by a posttranscriptional mechanism. Thus, the anesthetic signature reflects an evolutionarily conserved role for the na orthologs, implying its intimate involvement in drug action.
Article
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine: 5HT) is an important neuroactive substance in the model roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans. Aside from having effects in feeding and egg-laying, 5HT inhibits motility and also modulates several locomotory behaviors, notably food-induced slowing and foraging. Recent evidence showed that a serotonergic 5HT2-like receptor named SER-1 (also known as 5HT2ce) was responsible for the effect of 5HT on egg-laying. Here we confirm this observation and show that SER-1 also plays an important role in locomotion. A mutant lacking SER-1 was found to be highly resistant to exogenous 5HT in the absence of food and this resistant phenotype was rescued by reintroducing the SER-1 gene in a mutant background. Pharmacological studies showed that the same antagonists that blocked the activity of recombinant SER-1 in vitro also inhibited the effect of 5HT on motility, suggesting the same receptor was responsible for both effects. When tested for locomotory behaviors, the SER-1 mutant was found to be moderately defective in food-induced slowing. In addition, the mutant changed direction more frequently than the wildtype when searching for food, suggesting that SER-1 may play a role in navigational control during foraging. Both these effects required the presence of MOD-1, a 5HT gated chloride channel, and the results indicate that SER-1 and MOD-1 modulate these behaviors through a common pathway. On the basis of expression analysis of a ser-1::GFP translational fusion, SER-1 is prominently located in central, integrating neurons of the head ganglia (RIA and RIC) but not the body wall musculature. The evidence suggests that SER-1 controls locomotion through indirect modulation of neuromuscular circuits and has effects both on speed and direction of movement.
Article
Sodium plays a key role in determining the basal excitability of the nervous systems through the resting "leak" Na(+) permeabilities, but the molecular identities of the TTX- and Cs(+)-resistant Na(+) leak conductance are totally unknown. Here we show that this conductance is formed by the protein NALCN, a substantially uncharacterized member of the sodium/calcium channel family. Unlike any of the other 20 family members, NALCN forms a voltage-independent, nonselective cation channel. NALCN mutant mice have a severely disrupted respiratory rhythm and die within 24 hours of birth. Brain stem-spinal cord recordings reveal reduced neuronal firing. The TTX- and Cs(+)-resistant background Na(+) leak current is absent in the mutant hippocampal neurons. The resting membrane potentials of the mutant neurons are relatively insensitive to changes in extracellular Na(+) concentration. Thus, NALCN, a nonselective cation channel, forms the background Na(+) leak conductance and controls neuronal excitability.