Colocalization of synaptic GABA(C)-receptors with GABA (A)-receptors and glycine-receptors in the rodent central nervous system

Cell Tissue Res. 2007 Oct;330(1):1-15. doi: 10.1007/s00441-007-0446-y. Epub 2007 Jul 4.


Fast inhibition in the nervous system is preferentially mediated by GABA- and glycine-receptors. Two types of ionotropic GABA-receptor, the GABA(A)-receptor and GABA(C)-receptor, have been identified; they have specific molecular compositions, different sensitivities to GABA, different kinetics, and distinct pharmacological profiles. We have studied, by immunocytochemistry, the synaptic localization of glycine-, GABA(A)-, and GABA(C)-receptors in rodent retina, spinal cord, midbrain, and brain-stem. Antibodies specific for the alpha1 subunit of the glycine-receptor, the gamma2 subunit of the GABA(A)-receptor, and the rho subunits of the GABA(C)-receptor have been applied. Using double-immunolabeling, we have determined whether these receptors are expressed at the same postsynaptic sites. In the retina, no such colocalization was observed. However, in the spinal cord, we found the colocalization of glycine-receptors with GABA(A)- or GABA(C)-receptors and the colocalization of GABA(A)- and GABA(C)-receptors in approximately 25% of the synapses. In the midbrain and brain-stem, GABA(A)- and GABA(C)-receptors were colocalized in 10%-15% of the postsynaptic sites. We discuss the possible expression of heteromeric (hybrid) receptors assembled from GABA(A)- and GABA(C)-receptor subunits. Our results suggest that GABA(A)- and GABA(C)-receptors are colocalized in a minority of synapses of the central nervous system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, GABA / analysis*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / analysis*
  • Receptors, Glycine / analysis*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*


  • GABA-C receptor
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Receptors, Glycine