Analysis of GABAA receptor function and dissection of the pharmacology of benzodiazepines and general anesthetics through mouse genetics

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2004:44:475-98. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.44.101802.121429.


GABAA receptors are molecular substrates for the regulation of vigilance, anxiety, muscle tension, epileptogenic activity, and memory functions, and the enhancement of GABAA receptor-mediated fast synaptic inhibition is the basis for the pharmacotherapy of various neurological and psychiatric disorders. Two kinds of GABAA receptor-targeted mutant mice have been generated: (a) knockout mice that lack individual GABAA receptor subunits (alpha1, alpha5, alpha6, beta2, beta3, gamma2, delta, and rho1) and (b) knockin mice that carry point mutations affecting the action of modulatory drugs [alpha1(H101R), alpha2(H101R), alpha3(H126R), alpha5(H105R), and beta3(N265M)]. Whereas the knockout mice have provided information primarily with respect to the regulation of subunit gene transcription, receptor assembly, and some physiological functions of individual receptor subtypes, the point-mutated knockin mice in which specific GABAA receptor subtypes are insensitive to diazepam or some general anesthetics have revealed the specific contribution of individual receptor subtypes to the pharmacological spectrum of diazepam and general anesthetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, General / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism*


  • Anesthetics, General
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Benzodiazepines