Voelcker Academy

Research Symposium 2012


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Joshua Singer

Discovering the World of GABA Electrophysiology and Pharmacology

Joshua Singer

Mentor(s): Celest Austin, Anna Sedelnikova, David Weiss, PhD

  • γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system
  • GABA can bind to GABAA receptors
  • GABAA receptors are comprised of five subunits with the most common being two αs, two βs, and a γ subunit. This combination was determined by Dr. David Weiss.
  • The possible subunit combinations to form a GABAA receptor arise from a pool of subunits: α1-6, β1-3, γ1-3, θ, δ, π, and ε.
  • GABA binds to the α-β subunit interface that forms the GABA binding site
  • This binding of GABA to the GABAA receptor triggers chloride influx through the selective GABAA receptor pore, hyperpolarizing the membrane thereby causing an inhibitory response
  • A balance between inhibitory and excitatory responses is typically seen in a functional network
  • A disruption in this balance can cause neuropathlogical disorders like epilepsy