Gamma-aminobutyric type A receptors (GABAARs) are the principle sites of synaptic inhibition in the brain. It is unclear how neurons regulate the accumulation of synaptic GABAAR subtypes at inhibitory synapses. The impact these processes have on behavior also remains poorly understood. We hypothesize that the synaptic accumulation of GABAARs is dependent on the direct binding of conserved amino acids within the intracellular domains of the 11 and 12 subunits to the inhibitory postsynaptic scaffold protein gephyrin. This interaction is subject to dynamic modulation via the phosphorylation of serine residues within these intracellular domains, a process that determines both receptor number at synaptic sites and the efficacy of synaptic inhibition. Selectively disrupting the binding of GABAARs to gephyrin in the cortex of mice leads to deficits in paired-pulse inhibition, reminiscent of the sensorimotor deficits seen in humans with schizophrenia. To test this central hypothesis we will focus on four specific aims: 1. To test the hypothesis that selective binding of gephyrin to a conserved motif within the receptor 11 and 12 subunits mediates binding to the inhibitory scaffold gephyrin. We will delineate the residues within the 11 and 12 subunits that are responsible for gephyrin binding and then use isothermal titration calorimetry to determine the affinities of these subunits for gephyrin. 2. To test the hypothesis that inhibiting the interaction of gephyrin with the GABAAR 1 subunits modifies both receptor accumulation at synaptic sites and the efficacy of neuronal inhibition. We will compare the properties of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents in neurons expressing fluorescent wild-type and mutant 11 subunits, which have reduced capacity to bind gephyrin then go on to examine the effects of adeno-associated viruses that we have created on the synaptic clustering of endogenous GABAARs containing 11/12 subunits. 3. To test the hypothesis that phosphorylation of GABAAR 1 subunits by casein kinase 1 acts as a molecular switch to regulate their interaction with gephyrin. We will assess the role of casein kinase 1-dependent phosphorylation in regulating the membrane trafficking of GABAAR-containing 11/12 subunits, their accumulation at inhibitory synapses and the efficacy of neuronal inhibition. 4. To test the hypothesis that inhibiting the binding of gephyrin to GABAAR 1 subunit in the cortex leads to schizophrenic-like behavior in mice. We will evaluate if deficits in paired pulse inhibition are reversed by antipsychotics and subtype-selective benzodiazepines. We will also assess if blocking GABAAR clustering in the cortex induces other schizophrenia-related phenotypes in the absence and presence of psychostimulants.

Public Health Relevance

The experiments in this proposal are designed to provide mechanistic insights into the cellular processes that control the accumulation and stabilization of GABAARs at synaptic sites and determine how they impact on the pathology of schizophrenia. This study has the potential to make contributions to the development of novel therapeutics to alleviate schizophrenia in addition to a plethora of other neuropsychiatric disorders in which modified inhibition is of significance.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neurodifferentiation, Plasticity, and Regeneration Study Section (NDPR)
Program Officer
Stewart, Randall R
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Tufts University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Saito, A; Taniguchi, Y; Rannals, M D et al. (2016) Early postnatal GABAA receptor modulation reverses deficits in neuronal maturation in a conditional neurodevelopmental mouse model of DISC1. Mol Psychiatry 21:1449-59
Trattnig, Sarah M; Gasiorek, Agnes; Deeb, Tarek Z et al. (2016) Copper and protons directly activate the zinc-activated channel. Biochem Pharmacol 103:109-17
Kelley, Matthew R; Deeb, Tarek Z; Brandon, Nicholas J et al. (2016) Compromising KCC2 transporter activity enhances the development of continuous seizure activity. Neuropharmacology 108:103-10
Walker, Kendall R; Modgil, Amit; Albrecht, David et al. (2016) Genetic Deletion of the Clathrin Adaptor GGA3 Reduces Anxiety and Alters GABAergic Transmission. PLoS One 11:e0155799
Nakamura, Yasuko; Morrow, Danielle H; Modgil, Amit et al. (2016) Proteomic Characterization of Inhibitory Synapses Using a Novel pHluorin-tagged γ-Aminobutyric Acid Receptor, Type A (GABAA), α2 Subunit Knock-in Mouse. J Biol Chem 291:12394-407
Vien, Thuy N; Moss, Stephen J; Davies, Paul A (2016) Regulating the Efficacy of Inhibition Through Trafficking of γ-Aminobutyric Acid Type A Receptors. Anesth Analg 123:1220-1227
Vien, Thuy N; Modgil, Amit; Abramian, Armen M et al. (2015) Compromising the phosphodependent regulation of the GABAAR β3 subunit reproduces the core phenotypes of autism spectrum disorders. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:14805-10
Silayeva, Liliya; Deeb, Tarek Z; Hines, Rochelle M et al. (2015) KCC2 activity is critical in limiting the onset and severity of status epilepticus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:3523-8
Mircsof, Dennis; Langouët, Maéva; Rio, Marlène et al. (2015) Mutations in NONO lead to syndromic intellectual disability and inhibitory synaptic defects. Nat Neurosci 18:1731-6
Sivakumaran, Sudhir; Cardarelli, Ross A; Maguire, Jamie et al. (2015) Selective inhibition of KCC2 leads to hyperexcitability and epileptiform discharges in hippocampal slices and in vivo. J Neurosci 35:8291-6

Showing the most recent 10 out of 72 publications