Apr 28, 2020

Site-specific effects of neurosteroids on GABAA receptor activation and desensitization

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Y. SugasawaAlex Evers


This study examines how site-specific binding to the three identified neurosteroid binding sites in the 1{beta}3 GABAA receptor (GABAAR) contributes to neurosteroid allosteric modulation. We found that the potentiating neurosteroid, allopregnanolone, but not its inhibitory 3{beta}-epimer epi-allopregnanolone, binds to the canonical {beta}3(+)-1(-) intersubunit site that mediates receptor activation by neurosteroids. In contrast, both allopregnanolone and epi-allopregnanolone bind to intrasubunit sites in the {beta}3 subunit, promoting receptor desensitization and the 1 subunit promoting ligand-specific effects. Two neurosteroid analogues with diazirine moieties replacing the 3-hydroxyl (KK148 and KK150) bind to all three sites, but do not potentiate GABAAR currents. KK148 is a desensitizing agent, whereas KK150 is devoid of allosteric activity. These compounds provide potential chemical scaffolds for site-specific and general neurosteroid antagonists. Collectively, these data show that differential occupancy and efficacy at three discrete neurosteroid binding sites determine whether a neurosteroid has potentiating, inhibitory, or competitive antagonist activity on GABAARs.

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