Distinct properties of murine α5 γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors revealed by biochemical fractionation and mass spectroscopy

Ju YH, Guzzo A, Chiu MW, Taylor P, Moran MF, Gurd JW, MacDonald JF, Orser BA. (2009) J Neurosci Res. 87(8):1737-47.


γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors (GABAARs) that contain the α5 subunit are expressed predominantly in the hippocampus, where they regulate learning and memory processes. Unlike conventional postsynaptic receptors, GABAARs containing the α5 subunit (α5GABAARs) are localized primarily to extrasynaptic regions of neurons, where they generate a tonic inhibitory conductance. The unique characteristics of α5GABAARs have been examined with pharmacological, immunostaining, and electrophysiological techniques; however, little is known about their biochemical properties. The aim of this study was to modify existing purification and enrichment techniques to isolate α5GABAARs preferentially from the mouse hippocampus and to identify the α5 subunit by using tandem mass spectroscopy (MS/MS). The results showed that the detergent solubility of the α5 subunits was distinct from that of α1 and α2 subunits, and the relative distribution of the α5 subunits in Triton X-100-soluble fractions was correlated with that of the extracellular protein radixin but not with that of the postsynaptic protein gephyrin. Mass spectrometry identified the α5 subunit and showed that this subunit associates with multiple α, β, and γ subunits, but most frequently the β3 subunit. Thus, the α5 subunits coassemble with similar subunits as their synaptic counterparts yet have a distinct detergent solubility profile. Mass spectroscopy now offers a method for detecting and characterizing factors that confer the unique detergent solubility and possibly cellular location of α5GABAARs in hippocampal neurons.

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