Abstract

Inherited myoclonus of Poll Hereford calves is characterized by hyperesthesia and myoclonic jerks of the skeletal musculature, which occur spontaneously and in response to sensory stimuli. The disease shows autosomal recessive inheritance, and significant proportions of the Poll Hereford herds in many countries are thought to be carriers of the mutant gene. Studies revealed a specific and marked (90 to 95 percent) deficit in [3H]strychnine binding sites in spinal cord membranes from myoclonic animals compared to controls, reflecting a loss of, or defect in, glycine/strychnine receptors. Spinal cord synaptosomes prepared from affected animals showed a significantly increased ability to accumulate [3H]glycine, indicating an increased capacity of the high-affinity neuronal uptake system for glycine. In contrast, stimulus-induced glycine release and spinal cord glycine concentrations were unaltered.