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Life Sci. 2000 Feb 11;66(12):1063-70.

Intracellular trafficking of GABA(A) receptors.

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Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Some of the mechanisms that control the intracellular trafficking of GABA(A) receptors have recently been described. Following the synthesis of alpha, beta, and gamma subunits in the endoplasmic reticulum, ternary receptor complexes assemble slowly and are inefficiently inserted into surface membranes of heterologous cells. While beta3, beta4, and gamma2S subunits appear to contain polypeptide sequences that alone are sufficient for surface targeting, these sequences are neither conserved nor essential for surface expression of heteromeric GABA(A) receptors formed from alpha1beta or alpha1betagamma subunits. At the neuronal surface, native GABA(A) receptor clustering and synaptic targeting require a gamma2 subunit and the participation of gephyrin, a clustering protein for glycine receptors. A linker protein, such as the GABA(A) receptor associated protein (GABARAP), may be necessary for the formation of GABA(A) receptor aggregates containing gephyrin. A substantial fraction of surface receptors are sequestered by endocytosis, another process which apparently requires a GABA(A) receptor gamma2 subunit. In heterologous cells, constitutive endocytosis seems to predominate while, in cortical neurons, internalization is evoked when receptors are occupied by GABA(A) agonists. After constitutive endocytosis, receptors are relatively stable and can be rapidly recycled to the cell surface, a process that may be regulated by protein kinase C. On the other hand, a portion of the intracellular GABA(A) receptors derived from ligand-dependent endocytosis is apparently degraded. The clustering of GABA(A) receptors at synapses and at coated pits are two mechanisms that may compete for a pool of diffusable receptors, providing a model for plasticity at inhibitory synapses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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