The novel anticonvulsant drug, gabapentin (Neurontin), binds to the alpha2delta subunit of a calcium channel

J Biol Chem. 1996 Mar 8;271(10):5768-76. doi: 10.1074/jbc.271.10.5768.


Gabapentin (1-(aminomethyl)cyclohexane acetic acid; Neurontin) is a novel anticonvulsant drug, with a mechanism of action apparently dissimilar to that of other antiepileptic agents. We report here the isolation and characterization of a [3H]gabapentin-binding protein from pig cerebral cortex membranes. The detergent-solubilized binding protein was purified 1022-fold, in a six-step column-chromatographic procedure, with a yield of 3.9%. The purified protein had an apparent subunit Mr of 130,000, and was heavily glycosylated. The partial N-terminal amino acid sequence of the Mr 130,000 polypeptide, EPFPSAVTIK, was identical to that reported for the alpha2delta subunit of the L-type Ca2+ channel from rabbit skeletal muscle (Hamilton, S. L., Hawkes, M. J., Brush, K., Cook, R., Chang, R. J., and Smilowitz, H. M. (1989) Biochemistry 28, 7820-7828). High levels of [3H]gabapentin binding sites were found in membranes prepared from rat brain, heart and skeletal muscle. Binding of [3H]gabapentin to COS-7 cells transfected with alpha2delta cDNA was elevated >10-fold over controls, consistent with the expression of alpha2 delta protein, as measured by Western blotting. Finally, purified L-type Ca2+ channel complexes were fractionated, under dissociating conditions, on an ion-exchange column; [3H]gabapentin binding activity closely followed the elution of the alpha2 delta subunit. [3H]Gabapentin is the first pharmacological agent described that interacts with an alpha2delta subunit of a voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism*
  • Amines*
  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / isolation & purification*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Chromatography
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Chromatography, Ion Exchange
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids*
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Durapatite
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Gabapentin
  • Kinetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Molecular Weight
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Swine
  • Transfection
  • Tritium
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid*


  • Acetates
  • Amines
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Calcium Channels
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tritium
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Gabapentin
  • Durapatite