The genetics of hyperekplexia: more than startle!

Trends Genet. 2008 Sep;24(9):439-47. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Aug 15.


Hyperekplexia is characterised by neonatal hypertonia and an exaggerated startle reflex in response to acoustic or tactile stimuli. Genetic analysis of this disorder has revealed mutations in genes for several postsynaptic proteins involved in glycinergic neurotransmission, including the glycine receptor (GlyR) alpha1 and beta subunits, gephyrin and collybistin. However, new research suggests that mutations in the gene encoding the presynaptic glycine transporter GlyT2 are a second major cause of human hyperekplexia, as well as congenital muscular dystonia type 2 (CMD2) in cattle. These findings raise the intriguing possibility that both presynaptic and postsynaptic causes of disease might also exist in related disorders, such as idiopathic generalised epilepsies, where mutations in inhibitory GABA(A) receptor subunit genes have already been identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Testing
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Muscle Hypertonia / genetics*
  • Receptors, Glycine / chemistry
  • Receptors, Glycine / genetics
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism
  • Reflex, Startle / genetics*
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Receptors, Glycine
  • Glycine