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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 29;100(9):5485-90. Epub 2003 Apr 11.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid B receptor 1 mediates behavior-impairing actions of alcohol in Drosophila: adult RNA interference and pharmacological evidence.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Psychiatric Institute, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


In addition to their physiological function, metabotropic receptors for neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the GABA(B) receptors, may play a role in the behavioral actions of addictive compounds. Recently, GABA(B) receptors were cloned in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), indicating that the advantages of this experimental model could be applied to GABA(B) receptor research. RNA interference (RNAi) is an endogenous process triggered by double-stranded RNA and is being used as a tool for functional gene silencing and functional genomics. Here we show how cell-nonautonomous RNAi can be induced in adult fruit flies to silence a subtype of GABA(B) receptors, GABA(B)R1, and how RNAi combined with pharmacobehavioral techniques (including intraabdominal injections of active compounds and a computer-assisted quantification of behavior) can be used to functionally characterize these receptors. We observed that injection of double-stranded RNA complementary to GABA(B)R1 into adult Drosophila selectively destroys GABA(B)R1 mRNA and attenuates the behavioral actions of the GABA(B) agonist, 3-aminopropyl-(methyl)phosphinic acid. Moreover, both GABA(B)R1 RNAi and the GABA(B) antagonist CGP 54626 reduced the behavior-impairing effects of ethanol, suggesting a putative role for the Drosophila GABA(B) receptors in alcohol's mechanism of action. The Drosophila model we have developed can be used for further in vivo functional characterization of GABA(B) receptor subunits and their involvement in the molecular and systemic actions of addictive substances.

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