Selective inhibition of extra-synaptic α5-GABAA receptors by S44819, a new therapeutic agent

Lori-An Etherington, Balázs Mihalik, Adrienn Pálvölgyi, István Ling, Katalin Pallagi, Szabolcs Kertész, Peter Varga, Ben G. Gunn, Adam R. Brown, Matthew R. Livesey, Olivia Monteiro, Delia Belelli, József Barkóczy, Michael Spedding, István Gacsályi, Ferenc A. Antoni, Jeremy J. Lambert (Lead / Corresponding author)

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    32 Citations (Scopus)
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    In the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) GABAA receptors (GABAARs) mediate neuronal inhibition and are important therapeutic targets. GABAARs are composed of 5 subunits, drawn from 19 proteins, underpinning expression of 20-30 GABAAR subtypes. In the CNS these isoforms are heterogeneously expressed and exhibit distinct physiological and pharmacological properties. We report the discovery of S44819, a novel tricyclic oxazolo-2,3-benzodiazepine-derivative, that selectively inhibits α5-subunit-containing GABAARs (α5-GABAARs). Current α5-GABAAR inhibitors bind to the “benzodiazepine site”. However, in HEK293 cells expressing recombinant α5-GABAARs, S44819 had no effect on 3H-flumazenil binding, but displaced the GABAAR agonist 3H-muscimol and competitively inhibited the GABA-induced responses. Importantly, we reveal that the α5-subunit selectivity is uniquely governed by amino acid residues within the α-subunit F-loop, a region associated with GABA binding. In mouse hippocampal CA1 neurons, S44819 enhanced long-term potentiation (LTP), blocked a tonic current mediated by extrasynaptic α5-GABAARs, but had no effect on synaptic GABAARs. In mouse thalamic neurons, S44819 had no effect on the tonic current mediated by δ-GABAARs, or on synaptic (α1β2γ2) GABAARs. In rats, S44819 enhanced object recognition memory and reversed scopolamine-induced impairment of working memory in the eight-arm radial maze. In conclusion, S44819 is a first in class compound that uniquely acts as a potent, competitive, selective antagonist of recombinant and native α5-GABAARs. Consequently, S44819 enhances hippocampal synaptic plasticity and exhibits pro-cognitive efficacy. Given this profile, S44819 may improve cognitive function in neurodegenerative disorders and facilitate post-stroke recovery.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)353-364
    Number of pages12
    Early online date12 Aug 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


    • Tonic inhibition
    • Phasic inhibition
    • α5-GABAA receptors
    • Extrasynaptic GABAA receptors
    • Long term potentiation
    • Cognition


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