Multiple types of GABAA responses identified from zebrafish Mauthner cells

Neuroreport. 2014 Oct 22;25(15):1232-6. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000258.


γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) binds to ionotropic GABAA receptors to mediate fast inhibitory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system (CNS). GABAA receptors are pentameric structures composed of receptor subunits (α1-6, β1-3, γ1-3, δ, ε, θ, π, ρ1-3) with various stoichiometries. They play important roles in the control of neural networks and are the pharmacological targets for the treatment of diseases such as epilepsy, autism, and schizophrenia. Thus far, there has been no report on GABA synaptic transmission in developing zebrafish. Here we used whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology to record GABAA-mediated miniature postsynaptic currents from the Mauthner cells of embryonic zebrafish. Spontaneous GABAA currents occurred infrequently and were low in amplitude (27.2 ± 0.9 pA). Analysis of their kinetics suggested the existence of three main types of events: the first (group I) is mediated by a single type of receptor with decay kinetics of 54 ± 1.6 ms; the second (group II) is also mediated by a single receptor type, but exhibits significantly longer decay kinetics (151 ± 7.2 ms); and the third type of synapse (group III) contains multiple receptor types with fast (τ1=28.7 ± 2.5 ms) and slow (τ2=153 ± 11 ms) kinetics. Thus, for the first time, we report the properties of GABA synaptic currents associated with the Mauthner cells of zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Miniature Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Miniature Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism*
  • Rhombencephalon / cytology
  • Rhombencephalon / drug effects
  • Rhombencephalon / embryology
  • Rhombencephalon / physiology
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism*


  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Zebrafish Proteins