On high- and low-affinity agonist sites in GABAA receptors

J Neurochem. 2003 Oct;87(2):325-32. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2003.01982.x.


GABAA receptors are activated via low-affinity binding sites for the agonists GABA or muscimol. Evidence has been provided that the amino acid residue alpha 1F64 located at the beta2(+)/alpha1(-) subunit interface forms part of this binding site. In radioactive ligand binding studies the agonist [3H]muscimol has been found to interact with the receptor via a high-affinity binding site. This site has been interpreted as a conformational variant of the low-affinity site. Alternatively, the high-affinity binding site has been located to the alpha1(+)/beta2(-) interface and the homologous residue to alpha 1F64, beta 2Y62 has been proposed to constitute an important part of this site. Here we investigated the effect of the point mutation alpha 1F64L and the homologous mutation beta 2Y62L on agonist and antagonist binding and functional properties in alpha 1 beta 2 gamma 2 GABAA receptors. While the mutation in the alpha1 subunit had drastic consequences on all studied properties, including desensitization, the mutation in the beta2 subunit had little consequence. Our observations are relevant for the relative location of high- and low-affinity agonist sites in GABAA receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bicuculline / pharmacokinetics
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Binding, Competitive / drug effects
  • Binding, Competitive / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diazepam / pharmacokinetics
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacokinetics*
  • GABA Antagonists / pharmacokinetics
  • GABA Modulators / pharmacokinetics
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Muscimol / pharmacokinetics
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Rats
  • Receptors, GABA-A / chemistry
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Transfection
  • Xenopus
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacokinetics


  • GABA Agonists
  • GABA Antagonists
  • GABA Modulators
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Muscimol
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Diazepam
  • Bicuculline