Mallory C. Shields, Matthew R. Bowers, McKenzie M. Fulcer, Madelyn K. Bollig, Patrick J. Rock, Bryan R. Sutton, Alysia D. Vrailas-Mortimer, Hanns Lochmüller, Roger G. Whittaker, Rita Horvath, Noreen E. Reist
During chemical transmission, the function of synaptic proteins must be coordinated to efficiently release neurotransmitter. Synaptotagmin 2, the Ca2+ sensor for fast, synchronized neurotransmitter release at the human neuromuscular junction, has recently been implicated in a dominantly inherited congenital myasthenic syndrome associated with a non-progressive motor neuropathy. In one family, a proline residue within the C2B Ca2+-binding pocket of synaptotagmin is replaced by a leucine. The functional significance of this residue has not been investigated previously. Here we show that in silico modeling predicts disruption of the C2B Ca2+-binding pocket, and we examine the in vivo effects of the homologous mutation in Drosophila. When expressed in the absence of native synaptotagmin, this mutation is lethal, demonstrating for the first time that this residue plays a critical role in synaptotagmin function. To achieve expression similar to human patients, the mutation is expressed in flies carrying one copy of the wild type synaptotagmin gene. We now show that Drosophila carrying this mutation developed neurological and behavioral manifestations similar to those of human patients and provide insight into the mechanisms underlying these deficits. Our Drosophila studies support a role for this synaptotagmin point mutation in disease etiology.