A novel phenotype of AChR-deficiency syndrome with predominant facial and distal weakness resulting from the inclusion of an evolutionary alternatively-spliced exon in CHRNA1
Rodríguez Cruz PM., Ravenscroft G., Natera D., Carr A., Manzur A., Liu WW., Vella NR., Jericó I., Gonzalez-Quereda L., Gallano P., Montalto SA., Davis MR., Lamont PJ., Laing NG., Bourque P., Nascimento A., Muntoni F., Polavarapu K., Lochmüller H., Palace J., Beeson D.
Primary acetylcholine receptor deficiency is the most common subtype of congenital myasthenic syndrome, resulting in reduced amount of acetylcholine receptors expressed at the muscle endplate and impaired neuromuscular transmission. AChR deficiency is caused mainly by pathogenic variants in the ε-subunit of the acetylcholine receptor encoded by CHRNE, although pathogenic variants in other subunits are also seen. We report the clinical and molecular features of 13 patients from nine unrelated kinships with acetylcholine receptor deficiency harbouring the CHRNA1 variant NM_001039523.3:c.257G>A (p.Arg86His) in homozygosity or compound heterozygosity. This variant results in the inclusion of an alternatively-spliced evolutionary exon (P3A) that causes expression of a non-functional acetylcholine receptor α-subunit. We compare the clinical findings of this group to the other cases of acetylcholine receptor deficiency within our cohort. We report differences in phenotype, highlighting a predominant pattern of facial and distal weakness in adulthood, predominantly in the upper limbs, which is unusual for acetylcholine receptor deficiency syndromes, and more in keeping with slow-channel syndrome or distal myopathy. Finally, we stress the importance of including alternative exons in variant analysis to increase the probability of achieving a molecular diagnosis.