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J Biol Chem. 2009 Mar 20;284(12):7889-96. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806484200. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

Unanticipated structural and functional properties of delta-subunit-containing GABAA receptors.

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1
Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

GABA(A) receptors mediate inhibitory neurotransmission in the mammalian brain via synaptic and extrasynaptic receptors. The delta (delta)-subunit-containing receptors are expressed exclusively extra-synaptically and mediate tonic inhibition. In the present study, we were interested in determining the architecture of receptors containing the delta-subunit. To investigate this, we predefined the subunit arrangement by concatenation. We prepared five dual and three triple concatenated subunit constructs. These concatenated dual and triple constructs were used to predefine nine different GABA(A) receptor pentamers. These pentamers composed of alpha(1)-, beta(3)-, and delta-subunits were expressed in Xenopus oocytes and maximal currents elicited in response to 1 mm GABA were determined in the presence and absence of THDOC (3alpha, 21-dihydroxy-5alpha-pregnane-20-one). beta(3)-alpha(1)-delta/alpha(1)-beta(3) and beta(3)-alpha(1)-delta/beta(3)-alpha(1) resulted in the expression of large currents in response to GABA. Interestingly, the presence of the neurosteroid THDOC uncovered alpha(1)-beta(3)-alpha(1)/beta(3)-delta receptors, additionally. The functional receptors were characterized in detail using the agonist GABA, THDOC, Zn(2+), and ethanol and their properties were compared with those of non-concatenated alpha(1)beta(3) and alpha(1)beta(3)delta receptors. Each concatenated receptor isoform displayed a specific set of properties, but none of them responded to 30 mm ethanol. We conclude from the investigated receptors that delta can assume multiple positions in the receptor pentamer. The GABA dose-response properties of alpha(1)-beta(3)-alpha(1)/beta(3)-delta and beta(3)-alpha(1)-delta/alpha(1)-beta(3) match most closely the properties of non-concatenated alpha(1)beta(3)delta receptors. Furthermore, we show that the delta-subunit can contribute to the formation of an agonist site in alpha(1)-beta(3)-alpha(1)/beta(3)-delta receptors.

PMID:
19141615
PMCID:
PMC2658081
DOI:
10.1074/jbc.M806484200
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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