Research Summary: A Unified Model of the GABAA Receptor Comprising Agonist and Benzodiazepine Binding Sites


We present a full-length α1β2γ2 GABA receptor model optimized for agonists and benzodiazepine (BZD) allosteric modulators. We propose binding hypotheses for the agonists GABA, muscimol and THIP and for the allosteric modulator diazepam (DZP). The receptor model is primarily based on the glutamate-gated chloride channel (GluCl) from C. elegans and includes additional structural information from the prokaryotic ligand-gated ion channel ELIC in a few regions. Available mutational data of the binding sites are well explained by the model and the proposed ligand binding poses. We suggest a GABA binding mode similar to the binding mode of glutamate in the GluCl X-ray structure. Key interactions are predicted with residues α1R66, β2T202, α1T129, β2E155, β2Y205 and the backbone of β2S156. Muscimol is predicted to bind similarly, however, with minor differences rationalized with quantum mechanical energy calculations. Muscimol key interactions are predicted to be α1R66, β2T202, α1T129, β2E155, β2Y205 and β2F200. Furthermore, we argue that a water molecule could mediate further interactions between muscimol and the backbone of β2S156 and β2Y157. DZP is predicted to bind with interactions comparable to those of the agonists in the orthosteric site. The carbonyl group of DZP is predicted to interact with two threonines α1T206 and γ2T142, similar to the acidic moiety of GABA. The chlorine atom of DZP is placed near the important α1H101 and the N-methyl group near α1Y159, α1T206, and α1Y209. We present a binding mode of DZP in which the pending phenyl moiety of DZP is buried in the binding pocket and thus shielded from solvent exposure. Our full length GABAA receptor is made available as Model S1.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 7-January-2013

Author(s): Bergmann R., Kongsbak K., Sørensen P., Sander T., Balle T.


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