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Amino Acids. 2013 Apr;44(4):1139-49. doi: 10.1007/s00726-012-1456-y. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

Potency of GABA at human recombinant GABA(A) receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes: a mini review.

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Faculty of Pharmacy A15, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.


GABAA receptors are members of the ligand-gated ion channel superfamily that mediate inhibitory neurotransmission in the central nervous system. They are thought to be composed of 2 alpha (α), 2 beta (β) subunits and one other such as a gamma (γ) or delta (δ) subunit. The potency of GABA is influenced by the subunit composition. However, there are no reported systematic studies that evaluate GABA potency on a comprehensive number of subunit combinations expressed in Xenopus oocytes, despite the wide use of this heterologous expression system in structure-function studies and drug discovery. Thus, the aim of this study was to conduct a systematic characterization of the potency of GABA at 43 human recombinant GABA(A) receptor combinations expressed in Xenopus oocytes using the two-electrode voltage clamp technique. The results show that the α-subunits and to a lesser extent, the β-subunits influence GABA potency. Of the binary and ternary combinations with and without the γ2L subunit, the α6/γ2L-containing receptors were the most sensitive to GABA, while the β2- or β3-subunit conferred higher sensitivity to GABA than receptors containing the β1-subunit with the exception of the α2β1γ2L and α6β1γ2L subtypes. Of the δ-subunit containing GABA(A) receptors, α4/δ-containing GABA(A) receptors displayed highest GABA sensitivity, with mid-nanomolar concentrations activating α4β1δ and α4β3δ receptors. At α4β2δ, GABA had low micromolar activity.

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