May 2007
Volume 48, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2007
Pharmacology of Alpha-3-Containing Glycine Receptors
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • A. Neelakantan
    Dept of Neuroscience, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
  • M. Slaughter
    Dept of Neuroscience, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships A. Neelakantan, None; M. Slaughter, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support NIH Grant EY 014960
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2007, Vol.48, 4591. doi:
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    • Get Citation

      A. Neelakantan, M. Slaughter; Pharmacology of Alpha-3-Containing Glycine Receptors. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):4591.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose:: Three types of glycine receptor alpha subunit have been detected in retina. They have non-overlapping distributions in the inner plexiform layer, suggesting that each alpha subunit is associated with a particular function. GlyRs containing α1 or α2 subunits have been well characterized. Here we explore the pharmacology of α3 containing GlyRs.

Methods:: Drug effects were tested in retinal and transfected HEK 293 cells using whole cell patch recordings.

Results:: (A) Agonist profile - The α3 GlyR is the least sensitive to glycine, with an EC50 of 166µM and Hill coefficient of 2. Unlike α1 or α2 GlyR, addition of ß subunits made the GlyR even less sensitive to glycine (EC50-396µM). Glycine analogs L-alanine, ß alanine, L-serine, taurine, L-threonine, D-serine, and sarcosine were less effective on α3 than α1 or α2 GlyRs. They were. (B) Antagonist Profile - Picrotoxin (PTX) is a potent blocker of homomeric α3 GlyRs (IC50 0.86µM). The block was use-dependent and PTX was trapped in the receptor when glycine was withdrawn. PTX blocks α3/ß GlyR with an IC50 of 11.79µM. Thus PTX is a much more potent blocker of α3 GlyRs than either α1 or α2 GlyRs. Picrotin is much more potent at α3/ß GlyR (IC50 34µM) than at other glycine receptors or retinal GABA receptors (IC50 90 µM) and may be a prototype for design of specific α3 GlyR antagonists. Picrotoxinin is slightly more effective than picrotin in blocking α3/ß GlyR (IC50 26µM). 100µM bicuculline elicited a 30% block when tested against EC58 Gly on α3 GlyRs. 20µM SR95531 did not suppress α3 GlyRs, nor did 50 µM TPMPA. (C) Methyl Xanthines - Caffeine blocked both α3 and α3/ß GlyRs, with IC50s of 247µM and 185µM. Theophylline antagonized α3 GlyRs (IC50 of 293µM) as did theobromine (IC50 450µM). Forskolin and IBMX had no effect.

Conclusions:: GlyRs formed from α3 subunits have distinctive pharmacological profiles. They are less sensitive to glycine than the other subunits yet more sensitive to block by PTX and picrotin. It is fully blocked when PTX is used to inhibit GABA receptors. Like α1 and α2 containing GlyRs, bicuculline partially inhibits α3 GlyR. SR 95531 is the preferred GABAAR antagonist. Methylxanthines are effective blockers of α3 GlyRs. Unlike GABA antagonists, methylxanthines are more potent in the presence of ß subunits.

Keywords: inhibitory neurotransmitters • ion channels • receptors: pharmacology/physiology 

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