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J Mol Biol. 1990 Aug 5;214(3):619-24.

Novel GABAA receptor alpha subunit is expressed only in cerebellar granule cells.

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MRC Molecular Genetics Unit, Cambridge, England.


GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate brain, mediates neuronal inhibition by opening a chloride channel integral to the GABAA receptor. This action is potentiated by both benzodiazepine and barbiturate drugs. Since the isolation of cDNAs encoding GABAA receptor alpha 1 and beta 1 subunits, a further eight subunits have been identified. These subunits show GABAA receptor heterogeneity, unpredicted from classical pharmacological studies. I now report the isolation of a mouse cDNA clone encoding a novel GABAA receptor alpha subunit. The striking feature of this subunit is its regional distribution in the mouse brain. Northern hybridization and in situ hybridization experiments demonstrate that the subunit mRNA is expressed only in cerebellar granule cells. This is the first demonstration of the exclusive presence of a neuroreceptor subtype in a single neuronal cell type.

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