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GABA and Neurosteroids

Neurons communicate with each other across trillions of small spaces called synapses. It has been estimated that one-third of ALL synapses in the brain use the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA thus has a profound influence on brain activity. Although the structure of GABA is simple, its receptors are enormously diverse and complicated. These receptors are poorly understood in non-mammals. We have recently been the first to clone three genes from the amphibian brain which, when expressed together, would produce a functional receptor from the GABA (A) receptor family. We have characterized functional features of amphibian GABA(A) receptors and shown their modulation by neurosteroids. Currently, we are focusing on the GABA(B) receptor family.