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J Neurosci. 2008 Nov 12;28(46):11890-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3156-08.2008.

Protein kinase Cdelta regulates ethanol intoxication and enhancement of GABA-stimulated tonic current.

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Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, Emeryville, California 94608, USA.


Ethanol alters the distribution and abundance of PKCdelta in neural cell lines. Here we investigated whether PKCdelta also regulates behavioral responses to ethanol. PKCdelta(-/-) mice showed reduced intoxication when administered ethanol and reduced ataxia when administered the nonselective GABA(A) receptor agonists pentobarbital and pregnanolone. However, their response to flunitrazepam was not altered, suggesting that PKCdelta regulates benzodiazepine-insensitive GABA(A) receptors, most of which contain delta subunits and mediate tonic inhibitory currents in neurons. Indeed, the distribution of PKCdelta overlapped with GABA(A) delta subunits in thalamus and hippocampus, and ethanol failed to enhance tonic GABA currents in PKCdelta(-/-) thalamic and hippocampal neurons. Moreover, using an ATP analog-sensitive PKCdelta mutant in mouse L(tk(-)) fibroblasts that express alpha4beta3delta GABA(A) receptors, we found that ethanol enhancement of GABA currents was PKCdelta-dependent. Thus, PKCdelta enhances ethanol intoxication partly through regulation of GABA(A) receptors that contain delta subunits and mediate tonic inhibitory currents. These findings indicate that PKCdelta contributes to a high level of behavioral response to ethanol, which is negatively associated with risk of developing an alcohol use disorder in humans.

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