Over 20 different missense mutations in the α subunit of the adult skeletal muscle Na channel have been identified in families with either myotonia (muscle stiffness) or periodic paralysis, or both. The V445M mutation was recently found in a family with myotonia but no weakness. This mutation in transmembrane segment IS6 is novel because no other disease- associated mutations are in domain I. Na currents were recorded from V445M and wild-type channels transiently expressed in human embryonic kidney cells. In common with other myotonic mutants studied to date, fast gating behavior was altered by V445M in a manner predicted to increase excitability: an impairment of fast inactivation increased the persistent Na current at 10 ms and activation had a hyperpolarized shift (4 mV). In contrast, slow inactivation was enhanced by V445M due to both a slower recovery (10 mV left shift in β(V)) and an accelerated entry rate (1.6-fold). Our results provide additional evidence that IS6 is crucial for slow inactivation and show that enhanced slow inactivation cannot prevent myotonia, whereas previous studies have shown that disrupted slow inactivation predisposes to episodic paralysis.
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