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Altered Kv3.3 channel gating in early-onset spinocerebellar ataxia type 13.

Natali A Minassian, Meng-chin A Lin, Diane M Papazian

J. Physiol. (Lond.), 2012 Apr 1 , 590, 1599-614

Mutations in Kv3.3 cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 13 (SCA13). Depending on the causative mutation, SCA13 is either a neurodevelopmental disorder that is evident in infancy or a progressive neurodegenerative disease that emerges during adulthood. Previous studies did not clarify the relationship between these distinct clinical phenotypes and the effects of SCA13 mutations on Kv3.3 function. The F448L mutation alters channel gating and causes early-onset SCA13. R420H and R423H suppress Kv3 current amplitude by a dominant negative mechanism. However, R420H results in the adult form of the disease whereas R423H produces the early-onset, neurodevelopmental form with significant clinical overlap with F448L. Since individuals with SCA13 have one wild type and one mutant allele of the Kv3.3 gene, we analysed the properties of tetrameric channels formed by mixtures of wild type and mutant subunits. We report that one R420H subunit and at least one R423H subunit can co-assemble with the wild type protein to form active channels. The functional properties of channels containing R420H and wild type subunits strongly resemble those of wild type alone. In contrast, channels containing R423H and wild type subunits show significantly altered gating, including a hyperpolarized shift in the voltage dependence of activation, slower activation, and modestly slower deactivation. Notably, these effects resemble the modified gating seen in channels containing a mixture of F448L and wild type subunits, although the F448L subunit slows deactivation more dramatically than the R423H subunit. Our results suggest that the clinical severity of R423H reflects its dual dominant negative and dominant gain of function effects. However, as shown by R420H, reducing current amplitude without altering gating does not result in infant onset disease. Therefore, our data strongly suggest that changes in Kv3.3 gating contribute significantly to an early age of onset in SCA13.