Altered gabaa receptor subunit and splice variant expression in rats treated with chronic intermittent ethanol.
BACKGROUND: Intermittent chronic administration of ethanol to rats has been shown previously to produce a hyperexcitable, kindling-like state, accompanied by reduced inhibitory synaptic transmission in the hippocampus and changes in gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors. Further information is needed on the detailed changes in GABAA receptors and their time course and persistence, as is comparison to changes after chronic, continuous ethanol. METHODS: GABAA receptors were analyzed in the rat brain after chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) by using radioligand binding, photoaffinity labeling of polypeptides, and estimates of messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of receptor subunits by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and in situ hybridization. RESULTS: CIE rats were confirmed to have increased GABAA receptor binding of the benzodiazepine partial inverse agonist and ethanol antidote ligand Ro15-4513, due to increased expression of the alpha6 subunit polypeptide in the cerebellum, shown by photoaffinity labeling. Estimates of mRNA levels by use of RT-PCR did not reveal any significant increase in alpha6 or in several other receptor subunits in several brain regions, but a decrease in the ratio of the long and short splice variants (L/S) of the gamma2 subunit was detected in the hippocampus, especially the CA1 region. CONCLUSIONS: Changes in GABAA receptors were found in rats given CIE. Increased alpha6 subunit in the cerebellum was demonstrated by using both the binding to diazepam-insensitive sites for [3H]Ro15-4513 and increased levels of the 57-kDa alpha6 polypeptide after photoaffinity labeling with this ligand. This increase appeared after 30 doses of ethanol and decayed to normal 1 week after ethanol was discontinued. The transient change in cerebellar alpha6 subunit-containing receptors, also reportedly seen after chronic continuous ethanol, is thus unlikely to account for the persistently hyperexcitable, kindled, seizure-susceptible state seen in CIE. However, the significant decrease in gamma2 subunit L/S splice variant ratio in the hippocampus implies changes in GABAA receptor function, possibly involving protein phosphorylation by protein kinase C. Altered receptor trafficking and turnover associated with synaptic plasticity may contribute to the observed reduced inhibition in the hippocampus and other signs of alcohol dependence produced by CIE.
Petrie, J; Sapp, DW; Tyndale, RF; Park, MK; Fanselow, M; Olsen, RW
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