Atomic-level characterization of the effects of alcohol on a major player of the central nervous system

Scientists at the Institut Pasteur, the CNRS and the University of Texas have been able to observe at atomic-level the effects of ethanol (the alcohol present in alcoholic beverages) on central nervous system receptors.

They have identified five ethanol binding sites in a mutant of a bacterial analog of , and have determined how the binding of ethanol stimulates receptor activity.

These findings can be directly extrapolated to human GABA receptors (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitters in the human brain), which are ethanol's main target in the .

This work is being published online on April 16, on the Nature Communications website.

It paves the way for the synthesis of ethanol antagonist compounds that could limit the on the brain.

More information: Sauguet, L. et al. Structural basis for potentiation by alcohols and anesthetics in a ligand-gated ion channel, Nature Communications, April 16, 2013.

Related Stories

Alcoholic fly larvae need fix for learning

date Nov 29, 2012

Fly larvae fed on alcohol-spiked food for a period of days grow dependent on those spirits for learning. The findings, reported in Current Biology on November 29, show how overuse of alcohol can produce lastin ...

Study overturns decade-old findings in neurobiology

date May 12, 2010

In findings that should finally put to rest a decade of controversy in the field of neurobiology, a team at The Scripps Research Institute has found decisive evidence that a specific neurotransmitter system -- the endocannabinoid ...

Marijuana increases alcohol toxicity in young rats

date Apr 08, 2008

Marijuana is among the most frequently used illicit drugs by women during their childbearing years and there is growing concern that marijuana abuse during pregnancy, either alone or in combination with other drugs, may have ...

Recommended for you

A high-fat diet may alleviate mitochondrial disease

date Jun 30, 2015

Mice that have a genetic version of mitochondrial disease can easily be mistaken for much older animals by the time they are nine months old: they have thinning grey hair, osteoporosis, poor hearing, infertility, ...

Cheek muscles hold up better than leg muscles in space

date Jun 30, 2015

It is well known that muscles need resistance (gravity) to maintain optimal health, and when they do not have this resistance, they deteriorate. A new report published in the July 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal, however, sugges ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.