Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Charge selectivity forms the basis of cellular excitation or inhibition by Cys-loop ligand-gated ion channels (LGICs), and is essential for physiological receptor function. There are no reports of naturally occurring mutations in LGICs associated with the conversion of charge selectivity. Here, we report on a CHRNA1 mutation (α1Leu251Arg) in a patient with congenital myasthenic syndrome associated with transformation of the muscle acetylcholine receptor (AChR) into an inhibitory channel. Performing patch-clamp experiments, the AChR was found to be converted into chloride conductance at positive potentials, whereas whole-cell currents at negative potentials, although markedly reduced, were still carried by sodium. Umbrella sampling molecular dynamics simulations revealed constriction of the channel pore radius to 2.4 Å as a result of the mutation, which required partial desolvation of the ions in order to permeate the pore. Ion desolvation was associated with an energetic penalty that was compensated for by the favorable electrostatic interaction of the positively charged arginines with chloride. These findings reveal a mechanism for the transformation of the muscle AChR into an inhibitory channel in a clinical context.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





21228 - 21235


acetylcholine receptor, charge selectivity, myasthenia, Acetylcholine, Cell Line, Chlorides, HEK293 Cells, Humans, Ion Channel Gating, Membrane Potentials, Muscles, Mutation, Myasthenic Syndromes, Congenital, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Receptors, Cholinergic, Receptors, Nicotinic, Sodium