Human CHN1 Mutations Hyperactivate α2-Chimaerin and Cause Duane's Retraction Syndrome

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Science  08 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5890, pp. 839-843
DOI: 10.1126/science.1156121

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Duane's retraction syndrome (DRS) is a complex congenital eye movement disorder caused by aberrant innervation of the extraocular muscles by axons of brainstem motor neurons. Studying families with a variant form of the disorder (DURS2-DRS), we have identified causative heterozygous missense mutations in CHN1, a gene on chromosome 2q31 that encodes α2-chimaerin, a Rac guanosine triphosphatase–activating protein (RacGAP) signaling protein previously implicated in the pathfinding of corticospinal axons in mice. We found that these are gain-of-function mutations that increase α2-chimaerin RacGAP activity in vitro. Several of the mutations appeared to enhance α2-chimaerin translocation to the cell membrane or enhance its ability to self-associate. Expression of mutant α2-chimaerin constructs in chick embryos resulted in failure of oculomotor axons to innervate their target extraocular muscles. We conclude that α2-chimaerin has a critical developmental function in ocular motor axon pathfinding.

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