Homomeric RDL and heteromeric RDL/LCCH3 GABA receptors in the honeybee antennal lobes: Two candidates for inhibitory transmission in olfactory processing

Julien Pierre Dupuis, Michaël Bazelot, Guillaume Stéphane Barbara, Sandrine Paute, Monique Gauthier, Valérie Raymond-Delpech
Journal of Neurophysiology. 2010-01-01; 103(1): 458-468
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00798.2009

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γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)–gated chloride channel receptors are abundant in the CNS, where their physiological role is to mediate fast inhibitory neurotransmission. In insects, this inhibitory transmission plays a crucial role in olfactory information processing. In an effort to understand the nature and properties of the ionotropic receptors involved in these processes in the honeybee Apis mellifera, we performed a pharmacological and molecular characterization of GABA-gated channels in the primary olfactory neuropile of the honeybee brain—the antennal lobe (AL)—using whole cell patch-clamp recordings coupled with single-cell RT-PCR. Application of GABA onto AL cells at −110 mV elicited fast inward currents, demonstrating the existence of ionotropic GABA-gated chloride channels. Molecular analysis of the GABA-responding cells revealed that both subunits RDL and LCCH3 were expressed out of the three orthologs of Drosophila melanogaster GABA-receptor subunits encoded within the honeybee genome (RDL, resistant to dieldrin; GRD, GABA/glycine-like receptor of Drosophila ; LCCH3, ligand-gated chloride channel homologue 3), opening the door to possible homo- and/or heteromeric associations. The resulting receptors were activated by insect GABA-receptor agonists muscimol and CACA and blocked by antagonists fipronil, dieldrin, and picrotoxin, but not bicuculline, displaying a typical RDL-like pharmacology. Interestingly, increasing the intracellular calcium concentration potentiated GABA-elicited currents, suggesting a modulating effect of calcium on GABA receptors possibly through phosphorylation processes that remain to be determined. These results indicate that adult honeybee AL cells express typical RDL-like GABA receptors whose properties support a major role in synaptic inhibitory transmission during olfactory information processing.

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