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Neuropharmacology. 2004 Apr;46(5):629-37.

A mutation in the GABAA receptor alpha 1 subunit linked to human epilepsy affects channel gating properties.

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1
Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Blg 1 Rm D23, Columbia, SC 29209, USA. jfisher@med.sc.edu

Abstract

A genetic component is associated with the development of many forms of epilepsy. Recently, mutations in the GABAA receptor have been linked to several inherited epilepsies. One of these mutations is a non-conservative change of alanine to aspartate in the third transmembrane domain of the alpha1 subunit. To determine the functional consequences of this alteration, mutated alpha subunits were transiently transfected along with wild-type beta3 and gamma2L subunits into HEK-293T cells. The mutated alpha1(A294D) subunit reduced GABA sensitivity of the receptor, increased the deactivation rate and slowed desensitization. The mutation caused a reduction in channel open time but no change in single channel conductance. Studies with additional mutants, altering the charge and/or size of the side-chain, indicated that both size and hydrophobicity of the residue at this location influence channel gating. The effects on GABA sensitivity, deactivation rate and channel open time are consistent with a reduced efficacy of channel gating, and would be expected to decrease GABAergic neurotransmission. The alpha1 subtype is the most widely expressed of the alpha subunits, with expression increasing throughout development. Therefore, production of the mutated subunit could cause global hyperexcitability throughout the brain, leading to generalized seizures with juvenile onset.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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