A long-held tenet of neuromuscular transmission is that calcium-dependent neurotransmitter release is mediated by N-type calcium channels in frog but P/Q-type channels in mammals. The N-type assignment in frog is based principally on pharmacological sensitivity to ω-conotoxin GVIA. Our studies show that zebrafish neuromuscular transmission is also sensitive to ω-conotoxin GVIA. However, positional cloning of a mutant line with compromised neuromuscular function identified a mutation in a P/Q- rather than N-type channel. Cloning and heterologous expression of this P/Q-type channel confirmed a block by ω-conotoxin GVIA raising the likelihood that all vertebrates, including frog, use the P/Q-type calcium channel for neuromuscular transmission. In addition, our P/Q defective mutant line offered a means of testing the ability of roscovitine, known to potentiate frog neuromuscular transmission, to mediate behavioral and functional rescue. Acute treatment led to rapid improvement of both, pointing to potential therapeutic benefit for myasthenic disorders involving calcium channel dysfunction.
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