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Nat Neurosci 2005 Mar 01;83:339-45. doi: 10.1038/nn1398.
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Alcohol-induced motor impairment caused by increased extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptor activity.

Hanchar HJ , Dodson PD , Olsen RW , Otis TS , Wallner M .

Neuronal mechanisms underlying alcohol intoxication are unclear. We find that alcohol impairs motor coordination by enhancing tonic inhibition mediated by a specific subtype of extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptor (GABAR), alpha6beta3delta, expressed exclusively in cerebellar granule cells. In recombinant studies, we characterize a naturally occurring single-nucleotide polymorphism that causes a single amino acid change (R100Q) in alpha6 (encoded in rats by the Gabra6 gene). We show that this change selectively increases alcohol sensitivity of alpha6beta3delta GABARs. Behavioral and electrophysiological comparisons of Gabra6(100R/100R) and Gabra6(100Q/100Q) rats strongly suggest that alcohol impairs motor coordination by enhancing granule cell tonic inhibition. These findings identify extrasynaptic GABARs as critical targets underlying low-dose alcohol intoxication and demonstrate that subtle changes in tonic inhibition in one class of neurons can alter behavior.

PubMed ID: 15696164
PMC ID: PMC2854077
Article link: Nat Neurosci
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: gabra6

References [+] :
Brickley, Adaptive regulation of neuronal excitability by a voltage-independent potassium conductance. 2001, Pubmed