Cell calcium

Rab3 interacting molecule 3 mutations associated with autism alter regulation of voltage-dependent Ca²⁺ channels.

PMID 26142343


Autism is a neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorder characterized by impaired reciprocal social interaction, disrupted communication, and restricted and stereotyped patterns of interests. Autism is known to have a strong genetic component. Although mutations in several genes account for only a small proportion of individuals with autism, they provide insight into potential biological mechanisms that underlie autism, such as dysfunction in Ca(2+) signaling, synaptic dysfunction, and abnormal brain connectivity. In autism patients, two mutations have been reported in the Rab3 interacting molecule 3 (RIM3) gene. We have previously demonstrated that RIM3 physically and functionally interacts with voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channels (VDCCs) expressed in neurons via the β subunits, and increases neurotransmitter release. Here, by introducing corresponding autism-associated mutations that replace glutamic acid residue 176 with alanine (E176A) and methionine residue 259 with valine (M259V) into the C2B domain of mouse RIM3, we demonstrate that both mutations partly cancel the suppressive RIM3 effect on voltage-dependent inactivation of Ba(2+) currents through P/Q-type CaV2.1 recombinantly expressed in HEK293 cells. In recombinant N-type CaV2.2 VDCCs, the attenuation of the suppressive RIM3 effect on voltage-dependent inactivation is conserved for M259V but not E176A. Slowing of activation speed of P/Q-type CaV2.1 currents by RIM3 is abolished in E176A, while the physical interaction between RIM3 and β subunits is significantly attenuated in M259V. Moreover, increases by RIM3 in depolarization-induced Ca(2+) influx and acetylcholine release are significantly attenuated by E176A in rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells. Thus, our data raise the interesting possibility that autism phenotypes are elicited by synaptic dysfunction via altered regulation of presynaptic VDCC function and neurotransmitter release.