Gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptors (GABAARs) mediate synaptic inhibition in the brain and the actions of several clinically important drugs, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, ethanol and anesthetics. Several mutations in the receptor are linked to inherited forms of epilepsy. The long-term goal of our research program is to understand the function and pharmacological modulation of the GABAAR in terms of its molecular structure. Work during the current project period significantly advanced our understanding of the structure and dynamics of the GABA and benzodiazepine (BZD) binding sites. Experiments proposed herein build on this information to advance our understanding, on a structural level, of how GABA binding triggers channel gating and how BZD binding is coupled to receptor modulation. We propose to test the following hypotheses: 1) that intra- and inter-subunit salt bridges relay GABA binding site movements in the extracellular domain to gating movements in the transmembrane channel domain by connecting rigid-body protein blocks, 2) that residues in Loop 2 are involved in GABAAR activation and desensitization, 3) that residues in Loop 9 at non-binding site interfaces comprise a `hinge'element important for coupling GABA binding to gating, and 4) that BZD binding modulates GABAAR function by triggering movements in the extracellular domain that are transduced to the transmembrane helices via residues in Loop 2, Loop 7, Loop 9, pre-M1 and M2-M3 regions of the 11 and 32 subunits. The approach combines site-directed mutagenesis, disulfide crosslinking, mutant cycle analysis, substituted cysteine accessibility method, patch-clamping and kinetic analysis. The experiments will be interpreted with the aid of recently elucidated atomic-level structures to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the function of GABAARs and related receptors. The central role played by GABAARs in brain function make this basic research directly relevant to human health. The relevance of the research proposed herein extends beyond the GABAA receptor itself. GABAA receptors are members of a family of receptors that function as ligand-gated ion channels, and their activity regulates information flow throughout the brain. Defects in these channels lead to a wide variety of diseases, and they are the targets of a large number of clinically used drugs. Improvements in our understanding of how these channels work at a molecular level will improve our ability to predict the actions of drugs that act on these channels, to design safer and more effective drugs, to develop better therapeutic strategies, and to understand the etiology of disease-causing mutations. The research proposed here will increase our understanding of how one type of ion channel, the GABAA receptor, functions in health and disease and will establish testable hypotheses for elucidating how other related ligand-gated ion channels function.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Biophysics of Neural Systems Study Section (BPNS)
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Silberberg, Shai D
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University of Wisconsin Madison
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Ghosh, Borna; Tsao, Tzu-Wei; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2017) A chimeric prokaryotic-eukaryotic pentameric ligand gated ion channel reveals interactions between the extracellular and transmembrane domains shape neurosteroid modulation. Neuropharmacology 125:343-352
Ding, Yun; Dellisanti, Cosma D; Ko, Mi Hee et al. (2014) The endoplasmic reticulum-based acetyltransferases, ATase1 and ATase2, associate with the oligosaccharyltransferase to acetylate correctly folded polypeptides. J Biol Chem 289:32044-55
Laha, Kurt T; Ghosh, Borna; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2013) Macroscopic kinetics of pentameric ligand gated ion channels: comparisons between two prokaryotic channels and one eukaryotic channel. PLoS One 8:e80322
Dellisanti, Cosma D; Ghosh, Borna; Hanson, Susan M et al. (2013) Site-directed spin labeling reveals pentameric ligand-gated ion channel gating motions. PLoS Biol 11:e1001714
Ghosh, Borna; Satyshur, Kenneth A; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2013) Propofol binding to the resting state of the gloeobacter violaceus ligand-gated ion channel (GLIC) induces structural changes in the inter- and intrasubunit transmembrane domain (TMD) cavities. J Biol Chem 288:17420-31
Venkatachalan, Srinivasan P; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2012) Structural link between ?-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptor agonist binding site and inner ?-sheet governs channel activation and allosteric drug modulation. J Biol Chem 287:6714-24
Morlock, Elaine V; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2011) Different residues in the GABAA receptor benzodiazepine binding pocket mediate benzodiazepine efficacy and binding. Mol Pharmacol 80:14-22
Hanson, Susan M; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2011) Disulphide trapping of the GABA(A) receptor reveals the importance of the coupling interface in the action of benzodiazepines. Br J Pharmacol 162:673-87
Sancar, Feyza; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2011) Allosteric modulators induce distinct movements at the GABA-binding site interface of the GABA-A receptor. Neuropharmacology 60:520-8
Wagoner, Kelly R; Czajkowski, Cynthia (2010) Stoichiometry of expressed alpha(4)beta(2)delta gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptors depends on the ratio of subunit cDNA transfected. J Biol Chem 285:14187-94

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