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J Neurophysiol. 2008 Dec;100(6):3417-28. doi: 10.1152/jn.90970.2008. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

The role of protein kinase A in the ethanol-induced increase in spontaneous GABA release onto cerebellar Purkinje neurons.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7178, USA.


Ethanol increases miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current frequency and decreases the paired-pulse ratio, which suggests that ethanol increases both spontaneous and evoked GABA release, respectively. We have shown previously that ethanol increases GABA release at the rat interneuron-Purkinje cell synapse and that this ethanol effect involves calcium release from internal stores; however, further exploration of the mechanism responsible for ethanol-enhanced GABA release was needed. We found that a cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) agonist, WIN-55212, and a GABA(B) receptor agonist, baclofen, decreased baseline spontaneous GABA release and prevented ethanol from increasing spontaneous GABA release. The CB1 receptor and GABA(B) receptor are Galpha i-linked G protein-coupled receptors with common downstream messengers that include adenylate cyclase and protein kinase A (PKA). Adenylate cyclase and PKA antagonists blocked ethanol from increasing spontaneous GABA release, whereas a PKA antagonist limited to the postsynaptic neuron did not block ethanol from increasing spontaneous GABA release. These results suggest that presynaptic PKA plays an essential role in ethanol-enhanced spontaneous GABA release. Similar to ethanol, we found that the mechanism of the cannabinoid-mediated decrease in spontaneous GABA release involves internal calcium stores and PKA. A PKA antagonist decreased baseline spontaneous GABA release. This effect was reduced after incubating the slice with a calcium chelator, BAPTA-AM, but was unaffected when BAPTA was limited to the postsynaptic neuron. This suggests that the PKA antagonist is acting through a presynaptic, calcium-dependent mechanism to decrease spontaneous GABA release. Overall, these results suggest that PKA activation is necessary for ethanol to increase spontaneous GABA release.

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