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Cloning and functional expression of GABAB receptors from Drosophila


: Dr Klaus Raming, as above.


The neurotransmitter GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) functions as the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system of vertebrates and invertebrates. In vertebrates GABA signals both through ionotropic receptors (GABAA, GABAC), which induce fast synaptic inhibitory responses, and through metabotropic receptors (GABAB), which play a fundamental role in the reduction of presynaptic transmitter release and postsynaptic inhibitory potentials. Whilst GABAA and GABAC receptors have been cloned from vertebrates as well as invertebrates, GABAB receptors have only been identified in vertebrate species to date, although indirect evidence suggests their existence in arthropods, too. Here we report the cloning of three putative invertebrate GABAB receptor subtypes (D-GABABR1, R2 and R3) isolated from Drosophila melanogaster. Whilst D-GABABR1 and R2 show high sequence identity to mammalian GABABR1 and R2, respectively, the receptor D-GABABR3 seems to be an insect-specific subtype with no known mammalian counterpart so far. All three D-GABABR subtypes are expressed in the embryonic central nervous system. In situ hybridization of Drosophila melanogaster embryos shows that two of the D-GABABRs (D-GABABR1 and R2) are expressed in similar regions, suggesting a coexpression of the two receptors, whilst the third D-GABABR (D-GABABR3) displays a unique expression pattern. In agreement with these results we have only been able to functionally characterize D-GABABR1 and R2 when the two subtypes are coexpressed either in Xenopus laevis oocytes or mammalian cell lines, whilst D-GABABR3 was inactive in any combination. The pharmacology of the coexpressed D-GABABR1/2 receptor was different from the mammalian GABABRs: e.g. baclofen, an agonist of mammalian GABABRs, showed no effect.

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