Positive modulation of synaptic and extrasynaptic GABAA receptors by an antagonist of the high affinity benzodiazepine binding site.

Middendorp, Simon; Maldifassi, Maria Constanza; Baur, Roland; Sigel, Erwin (2015). Positive modulation of synaptic and extrasynaptic GABAA receptors by an antagonist of the high affinity benzodiazepine binding site. Neuropharmacology, 95, pp. 459-467. Elsevier 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.04.027

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GABAA receptors are the major inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors in the brain and are the target for many clinically important drugs such as the benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines act at the high-affinity binding site at the α+/γ- subunit interface. Previously, an additional low affinity binding site for diazepam located in the transmembrane (TM) domain has been described. The compound SJM-3 was recently identified in a prospective screening of ligands for the benzodiazepine binding site and investigated for its site of action. We determined the binding properties of SJM-3 at GABAA receptors recombinantly expressed in HEK-cells using radioactive ligand binding assays. Impact on function was assessed in Xenopus laevis oocytes with electrophysiological experiments using the two-electrode voltage clamp method. SJM-3 was shown to act as an antagonist at the α+/γ- site. At the same time it strongly potentiated GABA currents via the binding site for diazepam in the transmembrane domain. Mutation of a residue in M2 of the α subunit strongly reduced receptor modulation by SJM-3 and a homologous mutation in the β subunit abolished potentiation. SJM-3 acts as a more efficient modulator than diazepam at the site in the trans-membrane domain. In contrast to low concentrations of benzodiazepines, SJM-3 modulates both synaptic and extrasynaptic receptors. A detailed exploration of the membrane site may provide the basis for the design and identification of subtype-selective modulatory drugs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Middendorp, Simon, Maldifassi, Maria Constanza, Baur, Roland, Sigel, Erwin


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Barbara Franziska Järmann-Bangerter

Date Deposited:

04 Mar 2016 08:51

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:52

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Benzodiazepine; Chloride channels; Electrophysiology; GABA(A) receptors; Positive allosteric modulator; SJM-3 (PubChem CID: 49713517); Xenopus oocyte





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