PMID: 29950725
Zhu S, Noviello CM, Teng J, Walsh RM Jr, Kim JJ, Hibbs RE
Structure of a human synaptic GABAA receptor.
Nature. 2018 Jul;559(7712):67-72. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0255-3. Epub 2018 Jun, 27.
Fast inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain is principally mediated by the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and its synaptic target, the type A GABA receptor (GABAA receptor). Dysfunction of this receptor results in neurological disorders and mental illnesses including epilepsy, anxiety and insomnia. The GABAA receptor is also a prolific target for therapeutic, illicit and recreational drugs, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, anaesthetics and ethanol. Here we present high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy structures of the human alpha1beta2gamma2 GABAA receptor, the predominant isoform in the adult brain, in complex with GABA and the benzodiazepine site antagonist flumazenil, the first-line clinical treatment for benzodiazepine overdose. The receptor architecture reveals unique heteromeric interactions for this important class of inhibitory neurotransmitter receptor. This work provides a template for understanding receptor modulation by GABA and benzodiazepines, and will assist rational approaches to therapeutic targeting of this receptor for neurological disorders and mental illness.