The kinetics of GABAergic currents in neurons is known to be modulated by the membrane voltage but the underlying mechanisms have not been fully explored. In particular, the impact of membrane potential on the GABA(A) receptor gating has not been elucidated. In the present study, the effect of membrane voltage on current responses elicited by ultrafast GABA applications was studied in cultured hippocampal neurons. The current to voltage relationship (I-V) for responses to saturating [GABA] (10 mM) showed an inward rectification (slope conductance at positive voltages was 0.62 +/- 0.05 of that at negative potentials). On the contrary, I-V for currents evoked by low [GABA] (1 microM) showed an outward rectification. The onset of currents elicited by saturating [GABA] was significantly accelerated at positive potentials. Analysis of currents evoked by prolonged applications of saturating [GABA] revealed that positive voltages significantly increased the rate and extent of desensitization. The onsets of current responses to non-saturating [GABA] were significantly accelerated at positive voltages indicating an enhancement of the binding rate. However, at low [GABA] at which the onset rate is expected to approach an asymptote set by opening/closing and unbinding rates, no significant modification of current onset by voltage was observed. Quantitative analysis based on model simulations indicated that the major effect of membrane depolarization was to increase the rates of binding, desensitization and of opening as well as to slightly reduce the rate of exit from desensitization. In conclusion, we provide evidence that membrane voltage affects the GABA(A) receptor microscopic gating.
"The rationale for accepting such a functional difference stems from the fact that the ion channel has been reported to be a simple ohmic pore, conducting anions equally well in both directions across the membrane (Bormann , 1988; Angelotti and Macdonald, 1993). It has been reported that the ion channel exhibits varying degrees of rectification (Krishek and Smart, 2001; Pytel et al., 2006; Pavlov et al., 2009), which may not be attributable simply to asymmetry in the chloride concentration across the membrane , as predicted by the constant field equation (Goldman, This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of General Medical Sciences [Grant GM0739591]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The GABA type A receptor (GABA(A)R) is expressed ubiquitously throughout the brain and is a target for many therapeutic agents, including general anesthetics and benzodiazepines, which enhance receptor function by increasing the open probability (P(o)) of the ion channel. It is commonplace for in vitro studies of receptor pharmacological characteristics to use negative membrane holding potentials to mimic the resting potential of neurons and symmetrical chloride to eliminate Goldman rectification, which results in chloride flow in the opposite direction, compared with in vivo conditions. This critical difference is usually overlooked because the GABA(A)R has been reported to behave as an ohmic pore, but our results show that the current-voltage relationship is nonlinear with respect to P(o). Specifically, we found that currents were outwardly rectifying at low P(o) and linear at high P(o). We confirmed the correlation between P(o) and rectification with a partial agonist, piperidine-4-sulfonic acid, and a gating-impaired mutation, α1(L277A); both exhibited enhanced outward rectification. Furthermore, this correlation was independent of Goldman rectification and persisted under altered chloride gradient conditions, which suggests that rectification is linked to the direction of chloride flux. Finally, our results showed that the degree of potentiation by general anesthetics (etomidate, propofol, and isoflurane) was greater at negative membrane potentials. Traditional in vitro experiments thus overestimate the action of positive allosteric modulators of the GABA(A)R. Our results show that the direction of the driving force on the permeant ion, as well as P(o), must be considered together for a complete understanding of drug actions on ligand-gated ion channels.
"Several studies provided evidence that the time course of GABAergic currents shows a substantial voltage-dependence (Barker and Harrison, 1988; Weiss et al., 1988; Jones and Harrison, 1993; Pearce, 1993; Lukatch and MacIver, 1997; Mellor and Randall, 1998; Krishek and Smart, 2001). Since the mechanisms underlying the modulation of GABAergic currents by voltage have not been fully elucidated, we have performed a kinetic analysis of current responses evoked by rapid applications of exogenous GABA (Pytel et al., 2006). I–V relationship for currents evoked by a saturating GABA concentration showed an inward rectification and this effect was accompanied by a faster onset as well as a larger rate and extent of desensitization at positive voltages. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The time course of synaptic currents is a crucial determinant of rapid signaling between neurons. Traditionally, the mechanisms underlying the shape of synaptic signals are classified as pre- and post-synaptic. Over the last two decades, an extensive body of evidence indicated that synaptic signals are critically shaped by the neurotransmitter time course which encompasses several phenomena including pre- and post-synaptic ones. The agonist transient depends on neurotransmitter release mechanisms, diffusion within the synaptic cleft, spill-over to the extra-synaptic space, uptake, and binding to post-synaptic receptors. Most estimates indicate that the neurotransmitter transient is very brief, lasting between one hundred up to several hundreds of microseconds, implying that post-synaptic activation is characterized by a high degree of non-equilibrium. Moreover, pharmacological studies provide evidence that the kinetics of agonist transient plays a crucial role in setting the susceptibility of synaptic currents to modulation by a variety of compounds of physiological or clinical relevance. More recently, the role of the neurotransmitter time course has been emphasized by studies carried out on brain slice models that revealed a striking, cell-dependent variability of synaptic agonist waveforms ranging from rapid pulses to slow volume transmission. In the present paper we review the advances on studies addressing the impact of synaptic neurotransmitter transient on kinetics and pharmacological modulation of synaptic currents at inhibitory synapses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies have indicated that changes in extracellular pH and in membrane voltage affect the gamma-amino-n-butyric acid type A receptor gating mainly by altering desensitization and binding. To test whether the effects of membrane potential and pH are additive, their combined actions were investigated. By analyzing the current responses to rapid gamma-amino-n-butyric acid applications, we found that the current to voltage relationship was close to linear at acid pH but the increasing pH induced an inward rectification. Desensitization was enhanced at depolarizing potentials, but this strongly depended on pH, being weak at acidic and strong at basic pH values. A similar trend was observed for the onset rate of responses to saturating gamma-amino-n-butyric acid concentration. These data provide evidence that the voltage sensitivity of GABAA receptors depends on extracellular pH.
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