• Wang J, Shen D, Xia G, Shen W, Macdonald RL, Xu D, Kang JQ. Differential protein structural disturbances and suppression of assembly partners produced by nonsense GABRG2 epilepsy mutations: implications for disease phenotypic heterogeneity. Scientific reports. 2016 Oct 20;6. 35294 p. PMID: 27762395 [PubMed]. PMCID: PMC5071880.


Mutations in GABAA receptor subunit genes are frequently associated with epilepsy, and nonsense mutations in GABRG2 are associated with several epilepsy syndromes including childhood absence epilepsy, generalized tonic clonic seizures and the epileptic encephalopathy, Dravet syndrome. The molecular basis for the phenotypic heterogeneity of mutations is unclear. Here we focused on three nonsense mutations in GABRG2 (GABRG2(R136*), GABRG2(Q390*) and GABRG2(W429*)) associated with epilepsies of different severities. Structural modeling and structure-based analysis indicated that the surface of the wild-type γ2 subunit was naturally hydrophobic, which is suitable to be buried in the cell membrane. Different mutant γ2 subunits had different stabilities and different interactions with their wild-type subunit binding partners because they adopted different conformations and had different surface hydrophobicities and different tendency to dimerize. We utilized flow cytometry and biochemical approaches in combination with lifted whole cell patch-clamp recordings. We demonstrated that the truncated subunits had no to minimal surface expression and unchanged or reduced surface expression of wild-type partnering subunits. The amplitudes of GABA-evoked currents from the mutant α1β2γ2(R136*), α1β2γ2(Q390*) and α1β2γ2(W429*) receptors were reduced compared to the currents from α1β2γ2 receptors but with differentially reduced levels. This thus suggests differential protein structure disturbances are correlated with disease severity.