The GABRG2 nonsense mutation, Q40X, is associated with the severe epilepsy syndrome, Dravet syndrome, and is predicted to generate a premature translation-termination codon (PTC) in the GABA(A) receptor γ2 subunit mRNA in a position that codes for the first amino acid of the mutant subunit. We determined the effects of the mutation on γ2 subunit mRNA and protein synthesis and degradation, as well as on α1β2γ2 GABA(A) receptor assembly, trafficking and surface expression in HEK cells. Using bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) constructs, we found that γ2(Q40X) subunit mRNA was degraded by nonsense mediated mRNA decay (NMD). Undegraded mutant mRNA was translated to a truncated peptide, likely the signal peptide, which was cleaved further. We also found that mutant γ2(Q40X) subunits did not assemble into functional receptors, thus decreasing GABA-evoked current amplitudes. The GABRG2(Q40X) mutation is one of several epilepsy-associated nonsense mutations that have the potential to be rescued by reading through the PTC, thus restoring full-length protein translation. As a first approach, we investigated the use of the aminoglycoside, gentamicin, to rescue translation of intact mutant subunits by inducing mRNA read-through. In the presence of gentamicin, synthesis of full length γ2 subunits was partially restored, and surface biotinylation and whole cell recording experiments suggested that rescued γ2 subunits could corporate into functional, surface GABA(A) receptors, indicating a possible direction for future therapy.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.