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Neuropharmacology. 1999 Nov;38(11):1647-56.

Calcium sensing properties of the GABA(B) receptor.

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  • 1Receptor Systems, Molecular Pharmacology Unit, Glaxo Wellcome Medicines Research Centre, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK.


The GABA(B) receptor has been shown to consist of a heterodimer of two related 7-transmembrane receptors GABAB-R1 and GABA(B)-R2. These receptors share close homology to the Ca2+-sensing receptor and also to the metabotropic glutamate receptors, which have also been shown to respond to extracellular calcium. We show here that the GABA(B) receptor also has Ca2+ sensing properties. Ca2+ (0.001-1 mM) potentiated the GABA stimulation of [35S]GTPgammaS binding in membranes prepared from CHO cells stably expressing the GABA(B)-R1/R2 heterodimer. The GABA EC50 was reduced from 72 to 7.7 microM by addition of 1 mM Ca2+, with no change in the maximum response. A similar effect was observed in membranes from rat brain cortex. Ca2+ also potentiated GABA inhibition of forskolin-stimulated cAMP levels in the CHO cells and enhanced coupling to GIRK K+ channels in Xenopus oocytes. Other divalent cations were ineffective. The effects of Ca2+ were found to be agonist dependent with baclofen having a reduced sensitivity compared to GABA. Calcium appears to act allosterically to enhance GABA responses at the GABA(B) receptor, however, unlike the Ca2+-sensing receptor and some of the mGluR family, Ca2+ does not act as a ligand in its own right.

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