We identify 2 homozygous mutations in the ε-subunit of the muscle acetylcholine receptor (AChR) in 3 patients with severe congenital myasthenia: εR218W in the pre-M1 region in 2 patients and εE184K in the β8-β9 linker in 1 patient. Arg218 is conserved in all eukaryotic members of the Cys-loop receptor superfamily, while Glu184 is conserved in the α-, δ-, and ε-subunits of AChRs from all species. εR218W reduces channel gating efficiency 338-fold and AChR expression on the cell surface 5-fold, whereas εE184K reduces channel gating efficiency 11-fold but does not alter AChR cell surface expression. Determinations of the effective channel gating rate constants, combined with mutant cycle analyses, demonstrate strong energetic coupling between εR218 and εE184, and between εR218 and εE45 from the β1-β2 linker, as also observed for equivalent residues in the principal coupling pathway of the α-subunit. Thus, efficient and rapid gating of the AChR channel is achieved not only by coupling between conserved residues within the principal coupling pathway of the α-subunit, but also between corresponding residues in the ε-subunit.
Xin-Ming Shen, Joan M. Brengman, Shelley Shen, Hacer Durmus, Veeramani Preethish-Kumar, Nur Yuceyar, Seena Vengalil, Atchayaram Nalini, Feza Deymeer, Steven M. Sine, Andrew G. Engel