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J Neurosci. 2000 Apr 15;20(8):2867-74.

Heteromeric assembly of GABA(B)R1 and GABA(B)R2 receptor subunits inhibits Ca(2+) current in sympathetic neurons.

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Department of Pharmacology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.


Neuronal GABA(B) receptors regulate calcium and potassium currents via G-protein-coupled mechanisms and play a critical role in long-term inhibition of synaptic transmission in the CNS. Recent studies have demonstrated that assembly of GABA(B) receptor GABA(B)R1 and GABA(B)R2 subunits into functional heterodimers is required for coupling to potassium channels in heterologous systems. However whether heterodimerization is required for the coupling of GABA(B) receptors to effector systems in neurons remains to be established. To address this issue, we have studied the coupling of recombinant GABA(B) receptors to endogenous Ca(2+) channels in superior cervical ganglion (SCG) neurons using nuclear microinjection to introduce both sense and antisense expression constructs. Patch-clamp recording from neurons injected with both GABA(B)R1a/1b and GABA(B)R2 cDNAs or with GABA(B)R2 alone produced marked baclofen-mediated inhibition of Ca(2+) channel currents via a pertussis toxin-sensitive mechanism. The actions of baclofen were blocked by CGP62349, a specific GABA(B) antagonist, and were voltage dependent. Interestingly, SCGs were found to express abundantly GABA(B)R1 but not GABA(B)R2 at the protein level. To determine whether heterodimerization of GABA(B)R1 and GABA(B)R2 subunits was required for Ca(2+) inhibition, the GABA(B)R2 expression construct was microinjected with a GABA(B)R1 antisense construct. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in the levels of the endogenous GABA(B)R1 protein and a marked reduction in the inhibitory effects of baclofen on Ca(2+) currents. Therefore our results suggest that in neurons heteromeric assemblies of GABA(B)R1 and GABA(B)R2 are essential to mediate GABAergic inhibition of Ca(2+) channel currents.

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