Steady-state activation of the high-affinity isoform of the α4β2δ GABAA receptor

Spencer R. Pierce, Thomas C. Senneff, Allison L. Germann, Gustav Akk

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Activation of GABAA receptors consisting of α4, β2 (or β3), and δ subunits is a major contributor to tonic inhibition in several brain regions. The goal of this study was to analyze the function of the α4β2δ receptor in the presence of GABA and other endogenous and clinical activators and modulators under steady-state conditions. We show that the receptor has a high constitutive open probability (~0.1), but is only weakly activated by GABA that has a maximal peak open probability (POpen,peak) of 0.4, taurine (maximal POpen,peak = 0.4), or the endogenous steroid allopregnanolone (maximal POpen,peak = 0.2). The intravenous anesthetic propofol is a full agonist (maximal POpen,peak = 0.99). Analysis of currents using a cyclic three-state Resting-Active-Desensitized model indicates that the maximal steady-state open probability of the α4β2δ receptor is ~0.45. Steady-state open probability in the presence of combinations of GABA, taurine, propofol, allopregnanolone and/or the inhibitory steroid pregnenolone sulfate closely matched predicted open probability calculated assuming energetic additivity. The results suggest that the receptor is active in the presence of physiological concentrations of GABA and taurine, but, surprisingly, that receptor activity is only weakly potentiated by propofol.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15997
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


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