Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) is a developmental condition characterized by multiple joint contractures resulting from reduced or absent fetal movements. Homozygosity mapping of disease loci combined with whole exome sequencing in a consanguineous family presenting with lethal AMC allowed the identification of a homozygous frameshift deletion in UNC50 gene (c.750_751del:p.Cys251Phefs*4) in the index case. To assess the effect of the mutation, an equivalent mutation in the Caenorhabditis elegans orthologous gene was created using CRISPR/Cas9. We demonstrated that unc-50(kr331) modification caused the loss of acetylcholine receptor (AChR) expression in C. elegans muscle. unc-50(kr331) animals were as resistant to the cholinergic agonist levamisole as unc-50 null mutants suggesting that AChRs were no longer expressed in this animal model. This was confirmed by using a knock-in strain in which a red fluorescent protein was inserted into the AChR locus: no signal was detected in unc-50(kr331) background, suggesting that UNC-50, a protein known to be involved in AChR trafficking, was no longer functional. These data indicate that biallelic mutation in the UNC50 gene underlies AMC through a probable loss of AChR expression at the neuromuscular junction which is essential for the cholinergic transmission during human muscle development.
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