Katharina Ronstedt 1 , Damien Sternberg 2 , Silvia Detro-Dassen 3 , Thomas Gramkow 1 , Birgit Begemann 1 , Toni Becher 1 , Petra Kilian 1 , Matthias Grieschat 1 , Jan-Philipp Machtens 4 , Günther Schmalzing 3 , Martin Fischer 1 , Christoph Fahlke a , 4
27 October 2015
Mutations in the muscle chloride channel gene ( CLCN1) cause myotonia congenita, an inherited condition characterized by muscle stiffness upon sudden forceful movement. We here studied the functional consequences of four disease-causing mutations that predict amino acid substitutions Q43R, S70L, Y137D and Q160H. Wild-type (WT) and mutant hClC-1 channels were heterologously expressed as YFP or CFP fusion protein in HEK293T cells and analyzed by whole-cell patch clamp and fluorescence recordings on individual cells. Q43R, Y137D and Q160H, but not S70L reduced macroscopic current amplitudes, but left channel gating and unitary current amplitudes unaffected. We developed a novel assay combining electrophysiological and fluorescence measurements at the single-cell level in order to measure the probability of ion channel surface membrane insertion. With the exception of S70L, all tested mutations significantly reduced the relative number of homodimeric hClC-1 channels in the surface membrane. The strongest effect was seen for Q43R that reduced the surface insertion probability by more than 99% in Q43R homodimeric channels and by 92 ± 3% in heterodimeric WT/Q43R channels compared to homodimeric WT channels. The new method offers a sensitive approach to investigate mutations that were reported to cause channelopathies, but display only minor changes in ion channel function.