Multiple GABA receptors in rabbit retina

David Lee Friedman, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The task of encoding and processing complex sensory input requires many types of transsynaptic signals. This requirement is served in part by an extensive group of neurotransmitter substances which may include thirty or more different compounds. At the next level of information processing, the existence of multiple receptors for a given neurotransmitter appears to be a widely used mechanism to generate multiple responses to a given first messenger (Snyder and Goodman, 1980). Despite the wealth of published data on GABA receptors, the existence of more than one GABA receptor was in doubt until the mid 1980's. Presently there is still disagreement on the number of types of GABA receptors, estimates for which range from two to four (DeFeudis, 1983; Johnston, 1985). Part of the problem in evaluating data concerning multiple receptor types is the lack of information on the number of gene products and their subsequent supramolecular organization in different neurons. In order to evaluate the question concerning the diversity of GABA receptors in the nervous system, we must rely on indirect information derived from a wide variety of experimental techniques. These include pharmacological binding studies to membrane fractions, electrophysiological studies, localization studies, purification studies, and functional assays. Almost all parts of the central and peripheral nervous system use GABA as a neurotransmitter, and these experimental techniques have therefore been applied to many different parts of the nervous system for the analysis of GABA receptor characteristics. We are left with a large amount of data from a wide variety of techniques derived from many parts of the nervous system. When this project was initiated in 1983, there were only a handful of pharmacological tools to assess the question of multiple GABA receptors. The approach adopted was to focus on a single model system, using a variety of experimental techniques, in order to evaluate the existence of multiple forms of GABA receptors. Using the in vitro rabbit retina, a combination of pharmacological binding studies, functional release studies and partial purification studies were undertaken to examine the GABA receptor composition of this tissue. Three types of GABA receptors were observed: Al receptors coupled to benzodiazepine and barbiturate modulation, and A2 or uncoupled GABA-A receptors, and GABA-B receptors. These results are evaluated and discussed in light of recent findings by others concerning the number and subtypes of GABA receptors in the nervous system.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Friedman, David Lee, "Multiple GABA receptors in rabbit retina" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9202789.