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Neuropharmacology. 1996;35(9-10):1375-82.

Distinct deactivation and desensitization kinetics of recombinant GABAA receptors.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Georgetown University Medical School, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


The functional role of the large heterogeneity in GABAA receptor subunit genes and its role in setting the properties of inhibitory synapses in the CNS is poorly understood. A kinetic comparison between currents elicited by ultra-rapid application with a piezoelectric translator of 1 mM GABA to mammalian cells transfected with cDNAs encoding distinct GABAA receptor subunits revealed that the intrinsic deactivation and desensitization properties depend on subunit combination. In particular, receptors containing alpha 6 with beta 2 gamma 2 subunits were endowed with a significantly slower deactivation as compared to those receptors containing alpha 1 with beta 2 gamma 2 subunits. While desensitization produced by prolonged GABA applications on alpha 1 beta 2 gamma 2 receptors was characterized by a rapid exponential decay followed by a slower decay and a steady state response, alpha 6 beta 2 gamma 2 receptors lacked desensitization. Furthermore, GABAA receptors lacking the gamma 2 subunit were characterized by a much larger non-desensitization component and a very rapid deactivation. Lastly, analysis of GABA-activated currents in cells cotransfected with alpha 1 and alpha 6 together with beta 2 gamma 2 subunit revealed unique kinetic properties. Our results suggest that distinct subunit composition confers specific deactivation and desensitization properties that may profoundly affect synaptic decay kinetics and the capability to sustain high frequency synaptic inputs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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