Pharmacological characterization of a novel cell line expressing human alpha(4)beta(3)delta GABA(A) receptors

Br J Pharmacol. 2002 Aug;136(7):965-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0704795.


1: The pharmacology of the stable cell line expressing human alpha(4)beta(3)delta GABA(A) receptor was investigated using whole-cell patch-clamp techniques. 2: alpha(4)beta(3)delta receptors exhibited increased sensitivity to GABA when compared to alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2) receptors, with EC(50)'s of 0.50 (0.46, 0.53) microM and 2.6 (2.5, 2.6) microM respectively. Additionally, the GABA partial agonists piperidine-4-sulphonate (P4S) and 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisothiazolo-[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol (THIP) displayed markedly higher efficacy at alpha(4)beta(3)delta receptors, indeed THIP demonstrated greater efficacy than GABA at these receptors. 3: The delta subunit conferred slow desensitization to GABA, with rate constants of 4.8+/-0.5 s for alpha(4)beta(3)delta and 2.5+/-0.2 s for alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2). However, both P4S and THIP demonstrated similar levels of desensitization on both receptor subtypes suggesting this effect is agonist specific. 4: alpha(4)beta(3)delta and alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2) demonstrated equal sensitivity to inhibition by the cation zinc (2-3 microM IC(50)). However, alpha(4)beta(3)delta receptors demonstrated greater sensitivity to inhibition by lanthanum. The IC(50) for GABA antagonists SR-95531 and picrotoxin, was similar for alpha(4)beta(3)delta and alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2). Likewise, inhibition was observed on both subtypes at high and low pH. 5: alpha(4)beta(3)delta receptors were insensitive to modulation by benzodiazepine ligands. In contrast Ro15-4513 and bretazenil potentiated GABA responses on alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2) cells, and the inverse agonist DMCM showed allosteric inhibition of alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2) receptors. 6: The efficacy of neurosteroids at alpha(4)beta(3)delta receptors was greatly enhanced over that observed at alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2) receptors. The greatest effect was observed using THDOC with 524+/-71.6% potentiation at alpha(4)beta(3)delta and 297.9+/-49.7% at alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2) receptors. Inhibition by the steroid pregnenolone sulphate however, showed no subtype selectivity. The efficacy of both pentobarbitone and propofol was slightly augmented and etomidate greatly enhanced at alpha(4)beta(3)delta receptors versus alpha(4)beta(3)gamma(2) receptors. 7: We show that the alpha(4)beta(3)delta receptor has a distinct pharmacology and kinetic profile. With its restricted distribution within the brain and unique pharmacology this receptor may play an important role in the action of neurosteroids and anaesthetics. British Journal of Pharmacology (2002) 136, 965-974

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Anesthetics / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacology
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line / cytology
  • Cell Line / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • GABA Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pregnanes / pharmacology
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, GABA-A / drug effects*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology


  • Anesthetics
  • GABA Agonists
  • GABA Antagonists
  • Pregnanes
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Benzodiazepines
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid