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The human glycine receptor beta subunit: primary structure, functional characterisation and chromosomal localisation of the human and murine genes


The inhibitory glycine receptor (GlyR) is a pentameric receptor comprised of alpha and beta subunits, of which the beta subunit has not been characterised in humans. A 2106 bp cDNA, isolated from a human hippocampal cDNA library, contained an open reading frame of 497 amino acids which encodes the beta subunit of the human GlyR. The mature human GlyR beta polypeptide displays 99% amino acid identity with the rat GlyR beta subunit and 48% identity with the human GlyR alpha 1 subunit. Neither [3H]strychnine binding nor glycine-gated currents were detected when the human GlyR beta subunit cDNA was expressed in the human embryonic kidney 293 cell line. However, co-expression of the beta subunit cDNA with the alpha 1 subunit cDNA resulted in expression of functional GlyRs which showed a 4-fold reduction in the EC50 values when compared to alpha 1 homomeric GlyRs. Glycine-gated currents of alpha 1/beta GlyRs were 17-fold less sensitive than homomeric alpha 1 GlyRs to the antagonists picrotoxin, picrotoxinin and picrotin, providing clear evidence that heteromeric alpha 1/beta GlyRs were expressed. The beta subunit appears to play a structural rather than ligand binding role in GlyR function. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation was used to localise the gene encoding the human GlyR beta subunit (GLRB) to chromosome 4q32, a position syntenic with mouse chromosome 3. In situ hybridisation using the human GlyR beta subunit cDNA showed that the murine GlyR beta subunit gene (Glrb) maps to the spastic (spa) locus on mouse chromosome 3 at bands E3-F1. This is consistent with the recent finding that a mutation in the murine GlyR beta subunit causes the spa phenotype. It also raises the possibility that mutations in the human beta subunit gene may cause inherited disorders of the startle response.

Type Journal
ISBN 0169-328X (Print)
Authors Handford, C. A.;Lynch, J. W.;Baker, E.;Webb, G. C.;Ford, J. H.;Sutherland, G. R.;Schofield, P. R. :
Publisher Name Brain Res Mol Brain Res
Published Date 1996-01-01
Published Volume 35
Published Issue 1-2
Published Pages 211-9
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version