Using cerebellar granule neurons in culture it was demonstrated that exposure of the cells to the GABAA receptor agonist 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol (THIP) leads to an increase in the number of voltage-gated calcium channels as revealed by quantitative preembedding indirect immunogold labelling using a monoclonal antibody specific for phenylalkylamine and dihydropyridine sensitive Ca2+ channels. Using the same technique and a monoclonal antibody (bd-17) to the beta 2/beta 3-subunit of the GABAA-receptor, double labelling of Ca2+ channels and GABAA-receptors with gold particles of different and well defined sizes were performed. This showed that in THIP-treated cultures 20% of GABAA-receptors in cell processes were located in close proximity (i.e. within 40 nm) of Ca2+ channels in the plasma membrane. This was not observed in non-treated cultures nor was it observed in cell bodies of THIP-treated cultures. This suggests that primarily low affinity GABAA-receptors are closely associated with Ca2+ channels and this may be important for the ability of these receptors to mediate an inhibitory action on transmitter release even under extreme depolarizing conditions.
Neuroscience Letters, 1992, Vol 137, Issue 1, p. 14-8