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Exp Neurol. 2017 Nov;297:168-178. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2017.08.008. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

Decreased surface expression of the δ subunit of the GABAA receptor contributes to reduced tonic inhibition in dentate granule cells in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome.

Author information

1
Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
2
Department of Medical and Molecular Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
3
Department of Medical and Molecular Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA; Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
4
Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA; Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
5
Department of Neurobiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA; Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. Electronic address: houser@mednet.ucla.edu.

Abstract

While numerous changes in the GABA system have been identified in models of Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), alterations in subunits of the GABAA receptors (GABAARs) that mediate tonic inhibition are particularly intriguing. Considering the key role of tonic inhibition in controlling neuronal excitability, reduced tonic inhibition could contribute to FXS-associated disorders such as hyperactivity, hypersensitivity, and increased seizure susceptibility. The current study has focused on the expression and function of the δ subunit of the GABAAR, a major subunit involved in tonic inhibition, in granule cells of the dentate gyrus in the Fmr1 knockout (KO) mouse model of FXS. Electrophysiological studies of dentate granule cells revealed a marked, nearly four-fold, decrease in tonic inhibition in the Fmr1 KO mice, as well as reduced effects of two δ subunit-preferring pharmacological agents, THIP and DS2, supporting the suggestion that δ subunit-containing GABAARs are compromised in the Fmr1 KO mice. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated a small but statistically significant decrease in δ subunit labeling in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus in Fmr1 KO mice compared to wildtype (WT) littermates. The discrepancy between the large deficits in GABA-mediated tonic inhibition in granule cells in the Fmr1 KO mice and only modest reductions in immunolabeling of the δ subunit led to studies of surface expression of the δ subunit. Cross-linking experiments followed by Western blot analysis demonstrated a small, non-significant decrease in total δ subunit protein in the hippocampus of Fmr1 KO mice, but a four-fold decrease in surface expression of the δ subunit in these mice. No significant changes were observed in total or surface expression of the α4 subunit protein, a major partner of the δ subunit in the forebrain. Postembedding immunogold labeling for the δ subunit demonstrated a large, three-fold, decrease in the number of symmetric synapses with immunolabeling at perisynaptic locations in Fmr1 KO mice. While α4 immunogold particles were also reduced at perisynaptic locations in the Fmr1 KO mice, the labeling was increased at synaptic sites. Together these findings suggest that, in the dentate gyrus, altered surface expression of the δ subunit, rather than a decrease in δ subunit expression alone, could be limiting δ subunit-mediated tonic inhibition in this model of FXS. Finding ways to increase surface expression of the δ subunit of the GABAAR could be a novel approach to treatment of hyperexcitability-related alterations in FXS.

KEYWORDS:

Dentate gyrus; Fmr1 gene; Fragile X mental retardation protein; Fragile X syndrome; GABA receptor; Tonic inhibition

PMID:
28822839
PMCID:
PMC5612918
DOI:
10.1016/j.expneurol.2017.08.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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