Region-specific expression of GABAA receptor alpha 3 and alpha 4 subunits mRNAs in the rat brain

Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1992 Feb;12(4):293-314. doi: 10.1016/0169-328x(92)90132-u.


The expression of mRNAs encoding the alpha 3 and alpha 4 subunits of the gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABAA) receptor in the rat brain was investigated by in situ hybridization histochemistry. Both subunits showed a wide but uneven distribution, which did not coincide with the distribution of any other subunit so far reported. The cerebral cortex, anterior olfactory nucleus, lateral septum, subiculum, lateral and medial nuclei of the amygdaloid complex, anterior nuclei of the thalamus, pars compacta of the substantia nigra, trigeminal sensory nuclei, and cochlear nucleus were some of the areas where strong expression of mRNA for both the alpha 3 and alpha 4 subunits was detected. In the mitral cell layer of the olfactory bulb, the preoptic area and locus coeruleus, strong expression of only the alpha 3 subunit was detected. In the granular cell layer of the olfactory bulb, caudate-putamen, tenia tecta, pyramidal cell layer of the CA region and granular cell layer of the dentate gyrus in the hippocampal formation, dorsomedial and ventrolateral nuclei of the thalamus, dorsal part of the lateral geniculate body, preolivary nuclei and pontine nuclei, only the alpha 4 subunit showed strong expression. The diverse distribution of these two subunits is considered to indicate that each has a different role in the central nervous system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Deoxyadenine Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Male
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Organ Specificity
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics*
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes


  • Deoxyadenine Nucleotides
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Sulfur Radioisotopes
  • 2'-deoxyadenosine triphosphate