GABRG1 and GABRA2 as independent predictors for alcoholism in two populations

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Apr;34(5):1245-54. doi: 10.1038/npp.2008.171. Epub 2008 Sep 24.


The chromosome 4 cluster of GABA(A) receptor genes is predominantly expressed in the brain reward circuitry and this chromosomal region has been implicated in linkage scans for alcoholism. Variation in one chromosome 4 gene, GABRA2, has been robustly associated with alcohol use disorders (AUD) although no functional locus has been identified. As HapMap data reveal moderate long-distance linkage disequilibrium across GABRA2 and the adjacent gene, GABRG1, it is possible that the functional locus is in GABRG1. We genotyped 24 SNPs across GABRG1 and GABRA2 in two population isolates: 547 Finnish Caucasian men (266 alcoholics) and 311 community-derived Plains Indian men and women (181 alcoholics). In both the Plains Indians and the Caucasians: (1) the GABRG1 haplotype block(s) did not extend to GABRA2; (2) GABRG1 haplotypes and SNPs were significantly associated with AUD; (3) there was no association between GABRA2 haplotypes and AUD; (4) there were several common (>or=0.05) haplotypes that spanned GABRG1 and GABRA2 (341 kb), three of which were present in both populations: one of these ancestral haplotypes was associated with AUD, the other two were more common in non-alcoholics; this association was determined by GABRG1; (5) in the Finns, three less common (<0.05) extended haplotypes showed an association with AUD that was determined by GABRA2. Our results suggest that there are likely to be independent, complex contributions from both GABRG1 and GABRA2 to alcoholism vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / genetics
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Male
  • Oklahoma
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptors, GABA-A / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • White People / genetics


  • GABRA2 protein, human
  • GABRG1 protein, human
  • Receptors, GABA-A