The neurosteroids dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and pregnenolone sulfate inhibit the UNC-49 GABA receptor through a common set of residues

Vernon Twede, Anthony L. Tartaglia, Douglas F. Covey, Bruce A. Bamber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neurosteroids are endogenous neuromodulators that bind and allosterically regulate GABAA receptors. Residues were recently identified in the first transmembrane domain (M1) of GABAA receptor subunits that are important for neurosteroid modulation. We are studying the inhibition of GABAA receptors by sulfated neurosteroids. One of these neurosteroid, pregnenolone sulfate (PS), depends on six identified M1 residues to inhibit the UNC-49 GABA receptor, a homomeric GABA receptor from Caenorhabditis elegans that is homologous to the mammalian GABAA receptor. Here, we investigate the inhibition of the UNC-49 GABA receptor by another sulfated neurosteroid, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). DHEAS is identical to PS except that it contains a carbonyl oxygen instead of an acetyl group at C17 on the steroid D ring. UNC-49 mutations that affect PS inhibition had broadly parallel effects on DHEAS, suggesting the two neurosteroids act through similar mechanisms. However, certain M1 mutations affected DHEAS differently than PS. Considering that first, the D ring contains the only structural difference between PS and DHEAS, and second, the strongest chemical and steric effects of a mutation are likely to be felt in the local environment of the altered residues, this result implies that the steroid D ring may contact M1 near the mutated residues. This possibility is interesting because current models of neurosteroid interactions with GABAA receptors, based on pregnane steroids, suggest that the steroid A ring binds M1, whereas the D ring binds M4. Our findings suggest that there may be considerable diversity in the way different classes of neurosteroids interact with GABAA receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1329
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Volume72
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007

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