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Mol Pharmacol. 2002 Apr;61(4):861-9.

Tracazolate reveals a novel type of allosteric interaction with recombinant gamma-aminobutyric acid(A) receptors.

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Merck Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories, Neuroscience Research Centre, Essex, United Kingdom.


Tracazolate, a pyrazolopyridine, is an anxiolytic known to interact with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)(A) receptors, adenosine receptors, and phosphodiesterases. Its anxiolytic effect is thought to be via its interaction with GABA(A) receptors. We now report the first detailed pharmacological study examining the effects of tracazolate on a range of recombinant GABA(A) receptors expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Replacement of the gamma2s subunit within the alpha1beta3gamma2s receptor with the epsilon subunit caused a dramatic change in the functional response to tracazolate from potentiation to inhibition. The gamma2s subunit was not critical for potentiation because alpha1beta3 receptors were also potentiated by tracazolate. gamma2/epsilon chimeras revealed a critical N-terminal domain between amino acids 206 and 230 of gamma2, governing the nature of this response. Replacement of the beta3 subunit with the beta1 subunit within alpha1beta3gamma2s and alpha1beta3epsilon receptors also revealed selectivity of tracazolate for beta3-containing receptors, determined by asparagine at position 265 within transmembrane 2. Replacement of gamma2s with gamma1 or gamma3 revealed a profile intermediate to that of alpha1beta1epsilon and alpha1beta1gamma2s. alpha1beta1delta receptors were also potentiated by tracazolate; however, the maximum potentiation of the EC(20) was much greater than on alpha1beta1gamma2. Concentration-response curves to GABA in the presence of tracazolate for alpha1beta1epsilon and alpha1beta1gamma2s revealed a concentration-related decrease in maximum current amplitude, but a leftward shift in the EC(50) only on alpha1beta1gamma2. Like alpha1beta1gamma2s, GABA concentration-response curves on alpha1beta1delta receptors were shifted to the left with increased maximum responses. Tracazolate has a unique pharmacological profile on recombinant GABA(A) receptors: its potency (EC(50)) is influenced by the nature of the beta subunit; but more importantly, its intrinsic efficacy, potentiation, or inhibition is determined by the nature of the third subunit (gamma1-3, delta, or epsilon) within the receptor complex.

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