A Novel Glycine Receptor Variant with Startle Disease Affects Syndapin I and Glycinergic Inhibition

J Neurosci. 2020 Jun 17;40(25):4954-4969. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2490-19.2020. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


Glycine receptors (GlyRs) are the major mediators of fast synaptic inhibition in the adult human spinal cord and brainstem. Hereditary mutations to GlyRs can lead to the rare, but potentially fatal, neuromotor disorder hyperekplexia. Most mutations located in the large intracellular domain (TM3-4 loop) of the GlyRα1 impair surface expression levels of the receptors. The novel GLRA1 mutation P366L, located in the TM3-4 loop, showed normal surface expression but reduced chloride currents, and accelerated whole-cell desensitization observed in whole-cell recordings. At the single-channel level, we observed reduced unitary conductance accompanied by spontaneous opening events in the absence of extracellular glycine. Using peptide microarrays and tandem MS-based analysis methods, we show that the proline-rich stretch surrounding P366 mediates binding to syndapin I, an F-BAR domain protein involved in membrane remodeling. The disruption of the noncanonical Src homology 3 recognition motif by P366L reduces syndapin I binding. These data suggest that the GlyRα1 subunit interacts with intracellular binding partners and may therefore play a role in receptor trafficking or synaptic anchoring, a function thus far only ascribed to the GlyRβ subunit. Hence, the P366L GlyRα1 variant exhibits a unique set of properties that cumulatively affect GlyR functionality and thus might explain the neuropathological mechanism underlying hyperekplexia in the mutant carriers. P366L is the first dominant GLRA1 mutation identified within the GlyRα1 TM3-4 loop that affects GlyR physiology without altering protein expression at the whole-cell and surface levels.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT We show that the intracellular domain of the inhibitory glycine receptor α1 subunit contributes to trafficking and synaptic anchoring. A proline-rich stretch in this receptor domain forms a noncanonical recognition motif important for the interaction with syndapin I (PACSIN1). The disruption of this motif, as present in a human patient with hyperekplexia led to impaired syndapin I binding. Functional analysis revealed that the altered proline-rich stretch determines several functional physiological parameters of the ion channel (e.g., faster whole-cell desensitization) reduced unitary conductance and spontaneous opening events. Thus, the proline-rich stretch from the glycine receptor α1 subunit represents a multifunctional intracellular protein motif.

Keywords: PPII helix; TM3-4 loop; glycine receptor; hyperekplexia; syndapin I.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Receptors, Glycine / chemistry
  • Receptors, Glycine / genetics*
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism*
  • Stiff-Person Syndrome / genetics*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • GLRA1 protein, human
  • PACSIN1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Glycine