Altering the relative abundance of GABA A receptor subunits changes GABA- and ethanol-responses in Xenopus oocytes.
ABSTRACT: Variations in GABRA2 and GABRG3, genes encoding the alpha2 and gamma3 subunits of the pentameric GABA(A) receptor, are associated with the risk of developing alcoholism in adults, conduct disorder at younger ages, and with differences in electroencephalographic power in the beta frequency range. The SNPs associated with alcoholism did not alter the coding of these genes, and extensive DNA sequencing of GABRA2 did not find coding changes in the high-risk haplotypes. Therefore, we hypothesize that the associations arise from differences in gene expression.Here we report studies in Xenopus oocytes to examine the functional effects of altering the relative abundance of these 2 receptor subunits on GABA current and response to ethanol, as a model of potential effects of regulatory differences.When human alpha2beta2gamma3 subunits are co-expressed, increasing the amount of the alpha2 subunit mRNA increased GABA current; in contrast, increasing the amount of the gamma3 subunit decreased GABA currents. Acute ethanol treatment of oocytes injected with a 1:1:1 or 2:2:1 ratio of alpha2:beta2:gamma3 subunit mRNAs resulted in significant potentiation of GABA currents, whereas ethanol inhibited GABA currents in cells injected with a 6:2:1 ratio. Overnight treatment with ethanol significantly reduced GABA currents in a manner dependent on the ratio of subunits.These studies demonstrate that changes in relative expression of GABA(A) receptor subunits alter the response of the resulting channels to GABA and to ethanol.
Project description:Alcoholism is a common, heritable, chronic relapsing disorder. GABA(A) receptors undergo allosteric modulation by ethanol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines and neurosteroids and have been implicated in the acute as well as the chronic effects of ethanol including tolerance, dependence and withdrawal. Medications targeting GABA(A) receptors ameliorate the symptoms of acute withdrawal. Ethanol induces plasticity in GABA(A) receptors: tolerance is associated with generally decreased GABA(A) receptor activation and differentially altered subunit expression. The dopamine (DA) mesolimbic reward pathway originating in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), and interacting stress circuitry play an important role in the development of addiction. VTA GABAergic interneurons are the primary inhibitory regulators of DA neurons and a subset of VTA GABA(A) receptors may be implicated in the switch from heavy drinking to dependence. GABA(A) receptors modulate anxiety and response to stress; important elements of sustained drinking and relapse. The GABA(A) receptor subunit genes clustered on chromosome 4 are highly expressed in the reward pathway. Several recent studies have provided strong evidence that one of these genes, GABRA2, is implicated in alcoholism in humans. The influence of the interaction between ethanol and GABA(A) receptors in the reward pathway on the development of alcoholism together with genetic and epigenetic vulnerabilities will be explored in this review.
Project description:gamma-Aminobutyric acid type A (GABA(A)) receptors, the major inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors responsible for fast inhibition in the basal ganglia, belong to the superfamily of "cys-cys loop" ligand-gated ion channels. GABA(A) receptors form as pentameric assemblies of subunits, with a central Cl(-) permeable pore. On binding of two GABA molecules to the extracellular receptor domain, a conformational change is induced in the oligomer and Cl(-), in most adult neurons, moves into the cell leading to an inhibitory hyperpolarization. Nineteen mammalian subunit genes have been identified, each showing distinct regional and cell-type-specific expression. The combinatorial assembly of the subunits generates considerable functional diversity. Here we place the focus on GABA(A) receptor expression in the basal ganglia: striatum, globus pallidus, substantia nigra and subthalamic nucleus, where, in addition to the standard alpha1beta2/3gamma2 receptor subtype, significant levels of other subunits (alpha2, alpha3, alpha4, gamma1, gamma3 and delta) are expressed in some nuclei.
Project description:GABA type A receptors (GABA(A)-R) are important for ethanol actions and it is of interest to link individual subunits with specific ethanol behaviors. We studied null mutant mice for six different GABA(A)-R subunits (?1, ?2, ?3, ?4, ?5 and ?). Only mice lacking the ?2 subunit showed reduction of conditioned taste aversion (CTA) to ethanol. These results are in agreement with data from knock-in mice with mutation of the ethanol-sensitive site in the ?2-subunit (Blednov et al., 2011). All together, they indicate that aversive property of ethanol is dependent on ethanol action on ?2-containing GABA(A)-R. Deletion of the ?2-subunit led to faster recovery whereas absence of the ?3-subunit slowed recovery from ethanol-induced incoordination (rotarod). Deletion of the other four subunits did not affect this behavior. Similar changes in this behavior for the ?2 and ?3 null mutants were found for flurazepam motor incoordination. However, no differences in recovery were found in motor-incoordinating effects of an ?1-selective modulator (zolpidem) or an ?4-selective agonist (gaboxadol). Therefore, recovery of rotarod incoordination is under control of two GABA(A)-R subunits: ?2 and ?3. For motor activity, ?3 null mice demonstrated higher activation by ethanol (1 g/kg) whereas both ?2 (-/-) and ?3 (-/Y) knockout mice were less sensitive to ethanol-induced reduction of motor activity (1.5 g/kg). These studies demonstrate that the effects of ethanol at GABAergic synapses containing ?2 subunit are important for specific behavioral effects of ethanol which may be relevant to the genetic linkage of the ?2 subunit with human alcoholism.
Project description:Ethanol alters the distribution and abundance of PKCdelta in neural cell lines. Here we investigated whether PKCdelta also regulates behavioral responses to ethanol. PKCdelta(-/-) mice showed reduced intoxication when administered ethanol and reduced ataxia when administered the nonselective GABA(A) receptor agonists pentobarbital and pregnanolone. However, their response to flunitrazepam was not altered, suggesting that PKCdelta regulates benzodiazepine-insensitive GABA(A) receptors, most of which contain delta subunits and mediate tonic inhibitory currents in neurons. Indeed, the distribution of PKCdelta overlapped with GABA(A) delta subunits in thalamus and hippocampus, and ethanol failed to enhance tonic GABA currents in PKCdelta(-/-) thalamic and hippocampal neurons. Moreover, using an ATP analog-sensitive PKCdelta mutant in mouse L(tk(-)) fibroblasts that express alpha4beta3delta GABA(A) receptors, we found that ethanol enhancement of GABA currents was PKCdelta-dependent. Thus, PKCdelta enhances ethanol intoxication partly through regulation of GABA(A) receptors that contain delta subunits and mediate tonic inhibitory currents. These findings indicate that PKCdelta contributes to a high level of behavioral response to ethanol, which is negatively associated with risk of developing an alcohol use disorder in humans.
Project description:Alcoholism is a complex disease with both genetic and environmental risk factors. To identify genes that affect the risk for alcoholism, we systematically ascertained and carefully assessed individuals in families with multiple alcoholics. Linkage and association analyses suggested that a region of chromosome 4p contained genes affecting a quantitative endophenotype, brain oscillations in the beta frequency range (13-28 Hz), and the risk for alcoholism. To identify the individual genes that affect these phenotypes, we performed linkage disequilibrium analyses of 69 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) within a cluster of four GABA(A) receptor genes, GABRG1, GABRA2, GABRA4, and GABRB1, at the center of the linked region. GABA(A) receptors mediate important effects of alcohol and also modulate beta frequencies. Thirty-one SNPs in GABRA2, but only 1 of the 20 SNPs in the flanking genes, showed significant association with alcoholism. Twenty-five of the GABRA2 SNPs, but only one of the SNPs in the flanking genes, were associated with the brain oscillations in the beta frequency. The region of strongest association with alcohol dependence extended from intron 3 past the 3' end of GABRA2; all 43 of the consecutive three-SNP haplotypes in this region of GABRA2 were highly significant. A three-SNP haplotype was associated with alcoholism, with P=.000000022. No coding differences were found between the high-risk and low-risk haplotypes, suggesting that the effect is mediated through gene regulation. The very strong association of GABRA2 with both alcohol dependence and the beta frequency of the electroencephalogram, combined with biological evidence for a role of this gene in both phenotypes, suggest that GABRA2 might influence susceptibility to alcohol dependence by modulating the level of neural excitation.
Project description:The genes encoding several GABA-A receptor subunits, including GABRA2, have been associated with alcoholism, suggesting that variations in gaba signaling contribute to risk. Therefore, as part of a comprehensive evaluation of the GABA receptor genes, we evaluated the potential association of GABRR1 and GABRR2, which encode the rho1 and rho2 subunits of the pentameric GABA-A/GABA-C receptors. GABRR1 and GABRR2 lie in a head to tail orientation spanning 137 kb on chromosome 6q14-16. We genotyped 73 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), covering both genes and extending 31 kb upstream of GABRR2 and 95 kb downstream of GABRR1, in a sample of 1923 European Americans from 219 multiplex alcohol-dependent families. Family-based association analyses demonstrated that SNPs in both GABRR1 and GABRR2 were significantly associated with alcohol dependence. Among the associated SNPs was rs282129, a coding SNP (Met430Thr) in GABRR2. Secondary analysis using a median split for age of onset suggests that the association is strongest when the analysis is focused upon those with earlier onset of alcohol dependence. Haplotypes in each gene were significantly overtransmitted to family members who did not meet criteria for alcohol dependence (P < 0.04), and a haplotype in GABRR2 was significantly overtransmitted to family members who met a broader definition of alcoholism (P = 0.002) as well as DSM-IV dependence (P = 0.04).
Project description:Rodent models of chronic alcohol exposure are typically constrained to relatively short periods of forced ethanol due to the lifespan of these animals. Nonhuman primate models, particularly those employing long-term self-administration, are conceptually more similar to human alcoholic individuals.We performed whole-cell patch clamp recordings on acutely dissociated amygdala neurons isolated from cynomolgus macaque coronal temporal lobe slices. Slices were prepared from control monkeys or monkeys allowed to self-administer oral ethanol for 18 months. Flunitrazepam and acute ethanol modulation of currents gated by exogenous gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) application was assessed in these isolated neurons. Complementary experiments were performed on amygdala total RNA using quantitative real-time reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction to understand potential ethanol-dependent adaptations to subunit composition.Gamma-aminobutyric acid-gated currents from ethanol-exposed macaque amygdala neurons exhibited reduced modulation by flunitrazepam compared with control neurons. However, this was specific for benzodiazepines as the modest inhibition of GABA-gated currents by acute ethanol was not affected by the chronic ethanol consumption. We also measured mRNA expression levels for the beta, gamma, and delta subunits in total amygdala RNA isolated from control and ethanol-drinking animals. beta1 and gamma2 expression was significantly reduced in samples from ethanol-exposed amygdala.Our findings demonstrate that chronic ethanol self-administration reduces the benzodiazepine sensitivity of amygdala GABA(A) receptors. This reduced sensitivity may be the result of decreased expression of an amygdala gamma subunit. These findings suggest that, while rodent and nonhuman primate models of chronic ethanol exposure share many characteristics, the specific molecular adaptations associated with the amygdala GABAergic system may not be identical.
Project description:Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Approximately 14% of those who use alcohol meet criteria during their lifetime for alcohol dependence, which is characterized by tolerance, withdrawal, inability to stop drinking, and continued drinking despite serious psychological or physiological problems. We explored genetic influences on alcohol dependence among 1,897 European-American and African-American subjects with alcohol dependence compared with 1,932 unrelated, alcohol-exposed, nondependent controls. Constitutional DNA of each subject was genotyped using the Illumina 1M beadchip. Fifteen SNPs yielded P < 10(-5), but in two independent replication series, no SNP passed a replication threshold of P < 0.05. Candidate gene GABRA2, which encodes the GABA receptor alpha2 subunit, was evaluated independently. Five SNPs at GABRA2 yielded nominal (uncorrected) P < 0.05, with odds ratios between 1.11 and 1.16. Further dissection of the alcoholism phenotype, to disentangle the influence of comorbid substance-use disorders, will be a next step in identifying genetic variants associated with alcohol dependence.
Project description:The type-A receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) are ligand-gated chloride channels that mediate postsynaptic inhibition. The functional diversity of these receptors comes from the use of a large repertoire of subunits encoded by separate genes, as well as from differences in subunit composition of individual receptors. In mammals, a majority of GABA(A) receptor subunit genes are located in gene clusters that may be important for their regulated expression and function. We have established a high-resolution physical map of the cluster of genes encoding GABA(A) receptor subunits alpha2 (Gabra2), beta1 (Gabrb1), and gamma(1) (Gabrg1) on mouse chromosome 5. Rat cDNA probes and specific sequence probes for all three GABA(A) receptor subunit genes have been used to initiate the construction of a sequence-ready contig of bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) encompassing this cluster. In the process of contig construction clones from 129/Sv and C57BL/6J BAC libraries were isolated. The assembled 1.3-Mb contig, consisting of 45 BACs, gives five- to sixfold coverage over the gene cluster and provides an average resolution of one marker every 32 kb. A number of BAC insert ends were sequenced, generating 30 new sequence tag sites (STS) in addition to 6 Gabr gene-based and 3 expressed sequence tag (EST)-based markers. STSs from, and surrounding, the Gabrg1-Gabra2-Gabrb1 gene cluster were mapped in the T31 mouse radiation hybrid panel. The integration of the BAC contig with a map of loci ordered by radiation hybrid mapping suggested the most likely genomic orientation of this cluster on mouse chromosome 5: cen-D5Mit151-Gabrg1-Gabra2-Gabrb1-D5Mit58- tel. This established contig will serve as a template for genomic sequencing and for functional analysis of the GABA(A) gene cluster on mouse chromosome 5 and the corresponding region on human chromosome 4.
Project description:GABA type-A (GABA-A) receptors containing the ?2 subunit (GABRA2) are expressed in most brain regions and are critical in modulating inhibitory synaptic function. Genetic variation at the <i>GABRA2</i> locus has been implicated in epilepsy, affective and psychiatric disorders, alcoholism and drug abuse. <i>Gabra2</i> expression varies as a function of genotype and is modulated by sequence variants in several brain structures and populations, including F2 crosses originating from C57BL/6J (B6J) and the BXD recombinant inbred family derived from B6J and DBA/2J. Here we demonstrate a global reduction of GABRA2 brain protein and mRNA in the B6J strain relative to other inbred strains, and identify and validate the causal mutation in B6J. The mutation is a single base pair deletion located in an intron adjacent to a splice acceptor site that only occurs in the B6J reference genome. The deletion became fixed in B6J between 1976 and 1991 and is now pervasive in many engineered lines, BXD strains generated after 1991, the Collaborative Cross, and the majority of consomic lines. Repair of the deletion using CRISPR-<i>Cas9</i>-mediated gene editing on a B6J genetic background completely restored brain levels of GABRA2 protein and mRNA. Comparison of transcript expression in hippocampus, cortex, and striatum between B6J and repaired genotypes revealed alterations in GABA-A receptor subunit expression, especially in striatum. These results suggest that naturally occurring variation in GABRA2 levels between B6J and other substrains or inbred strains may also explain strain differences in anxiety-like or alcohol and drug response traits related to striatal function. Characterization of the B6J private mutation in the <i>Gabra2</i> gene is of critical importance to molecular genetic studies in neurobiological research because this strain is widely used to generate genetically engineered mice and murine genetic populations, and is the most widely utilized strain for evaluation of anxiety-like, depression-like, pain, epilepsy, and drug response traits that may be partly modulated by GABRA2 function.