PMID: 7644489Aug 15, 1995

Benzodiazepine-insensitive mice generated by targeted disruption of the gamma 2 subunit gene of gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptors

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
U GüntherB Lüscher


Vigilance, anxiety, epileptic activity, and muscle tone can be modulated by drugs acting at the benzodiazepine (BZ) site of gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. In vivo, BZ sites are potential targets for endogenous ligands regulating the corresponding central nervous system states. To assess the physiological relevance of BZ sites, mice were generated containing GABAA receptors devoid of BZ sites. Following targeted disruption of the gamma 2 subunit gene, 94% of the BZ sites were absent in brain of neonatal mice, while the number of GABA sites was only slightly reduced. Except for the gamma 2 subunit, the level of expression and the regional and cellular distribution of the major GABAA receptor subunits were unaltered. The single channel main conductance level and the Hill coefficient were reduced to values consistent with recombinant GABAA receptors composed of alpha and beta subunits. The GABA response was potentiated by pentobarbital but not by flunitrazepam. Diazepam was inactive behaviorally. Thus, the gamma 2 subunit is dispensable for the assembly of functional GABAA receptors but is required for normal channel conductance and the formation of BZ sites in vivo. BZ sites are not essential for embryonic devel...Continue Reading


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