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Mol Pharmacol. 1996 Nov;50(5):1253-61.

Pharmacological modulation of the diazepam-insensitive recombinant gamma-aminobutyric acidA receptors alpha 4 beta 2 gamma 2 and alpha 6 beta 2 gamma 2.

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Institute of Pharmacology, University of Zürich, Switzerland.


We characterized modulation of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-evoked responses of the diazepam-insensitive alpha 4 beta 2 gamma2 and alpha 6 beta 2 gamma 2 recombinant GABAA receptors. The partial agonist bretazenil potentiated the responses of both receptors with similar dose dependence but with a higher maximal enhancement at the alpha 4 beta 2 gamma 2 receptor. The bretazenil-induced potentiation was reduced by the benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenil. At a high concentration (10 microM), flumazenil was a weak potentiator of the GABA response. The partial agonist imidazenil was inactive. The imidazobenzodiazepine inverse agonist Ro 15-4513, which is known to bind with high affinity to the alpha 6 beta 2 gamma 2 receptor, potentiated the GABA responses of the alpha 4 beta 2 gamma 2 and alpha 6 beta 2 gamma 2 receptor subtypes with similar dose dependence over the concentration range of 0.1-10 microM. Methyl-6, 7-dimethoxy-4-ethyl-beta-carboline, a beta-carboline inverse agonist, had a similar potentiating effect when tested at a concentration of 10 microM. The alpha 4 beta 2 gamma 2 and alpha 6 beta 2 gamma 2 receptor-mediated currents had equal sensitivities to furosemide and Zn2+ ions, both of which reduced the GABA-evoked responses. The alpha 6 beta 2 gamma 2 receptor but not the alpha 4 beta 2 gamma 2 receptor exhibited a low level of spontaneous activity in the absence of GABA; this resting current could be directly potentiated by Ro 15-4513, methyl-6,7-dimethoxy-4-ethyl-beta-carboline, bretazenil and flumazenil and was blocked by picrotoxin. Thus, although the alpha 4 beta 2 gamma 2 receptors are insensitive to benzodiazepine binding site full agonists, such as diazepam, they can be modulated by certain ligands acting as partial and inverse agonists at diazepam-sensitive receptors and thereby contribute to the respective pharmacological profiles.

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