Congenital myasthenic syndromes and the neuromuscular junction

Pedro M Rodríguez Cruz, Jacqueline Palace, David Beeson
Current Opinion in Neurology 2014, 27 (5): 566-75

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) are a group of heterogeneous inherited disorders caused by mutations in genes encoding proteins essential for the integrity of neuromuscular transmission. This review updates the reader on the new mutations of known CMS genes, new causative genes and the treatment strategies for these increasingly heterogeneous disorders. It also provides a brief summary of the congenital myopathies with myasthenic features.

RECENT FINDINGS: The discovery of causative genes encoding for ubiquitously expressed and extrajunctional molecules has changed our previous view of congenital myasthenia. Mutations associated with the N-glycosylation pathway and in the family of serine peptidases have shown that abnormalities in the post-translational modification of proteins can produce defects at the human neuromuscular junction. However, mutations in lipoprotein-like receptor 4, a long-time candidate gene for congenital myasthenia, have now been described and a new pathogenic splicing mutation in the nonfunctional exon of CHRNA1 has been reported. The use of salbutamol and ephedrine alone or combined with pyridostigmine or 3,4-DAP is increasingly being reported in different CMS subtypes with significant benefit.

SUMMARY: Recent studies of the CMS illustrate the increasing complexity of the genetics, pathophysiological mechanisms and therapy of impaired synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction.

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