Neurochemistry international

Brain regional distribution of GABA(A) receptors exhibiting atypical GABA agonism: roles of receptor subunits.

PMID 19397945


The major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), has only partial efficacy at certain subtypes of GABA(A) receptors. To characterize these minor receptor populations in rat and mouse brains, we used autoradiographic imaging of t-butylbicyclophosphoro[(35)S]thionate ([(35)S]TBPS) binding to GABA(A) receptors in brain sections and compared the displacing capacities of 10mM GABA and 1mM 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol (THIP), a competitive GABA-site agonist. Brains from GABA(A) receptor alpha1, alpha4, delta, and alpha4+delta subunit knockout (KO) mouse lines were used to understand the contribution of these particular receptor subunits to "GABA-insensitive" (GIS) [(35)S]TBPS binding. THIP displaced more [(35)S]TBPS binding than GABA in several brain regions, indicating that THIP also inhibited GIS-binding. In these regions, GABA prevented the effect of THIP on GIS-binding. GIS-binding was increased in the cerebellar granule cell layer of delta KO and alpha4+delta KO mice, being only slightly diminished in that of alpha1 KO mice. In the thalamus and some other forebrain regions of wild-type mice, a significant amount of GIS-binding was detected. This GIS-binding was higher in alpha4 KO mice. However, it was fully abolished in alpha1 KO mice, indicating that the alpha1 subunit was obligatory for the GIS-binding in the forebrain. Our results suggest that native GABA(A) receptors in brain sections showing reduced displacing capacity of [(35)S]TBPS binding by GABA (partial agonism) minimally require the assembly of alpha1 and beta subunits in the forebrain and of alpha6 and beta subunits in the cerebellar granule cell layer. These receptors may function as extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptors.

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tert-Butyl bicyclo[2.2.2]phosphorothionate, solid