Kim was screening for alcohol-resistant worms when he chanced upon the transporter mutants. Like worms mutant for the dystrophin homologue dys-1, the snf-6 mutants bent their heads excessively when they tried to move fast. Wild-type SNF-6 protein promoted uptake of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine into transfected cells, and is needed in muscle cells, presumably to mediate similar uptake.
The snf-6 mutants showed higher neuronal responses downstream of repeated (but not individual) electrical stimuli. Loss of dystrophin or its partner syntrophin resulted in delocalized SNF-6 in older worms, and SNF-6 coimmunoprecipitated with worm syntrophin.
Adhesion may still be important in MD pathology, as the group does not yet know whether all DGC components are in the correct place and functioning properly in the snf-6 mutant. Teasing apart the transporter and adhesion functions may be easier in mammalian systems, although the worm system is still a promising approach for exploring downstream effectors of MD disease. ▪