Trace fear conditioning involves hippocampal α5 GABAA receptors

F. Crestani, R. Keist, J. M. Fritschy, D. Benke, K. Vogt, L. Prut, H. Blüthmann, H. Möhler, U. Rudolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The heterogeneity of γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors contributes to the diversity of neuronal inhibition in the regulation of information processing. Although most GABAA receptors are located synaptically, the small population of α5GABAA receptors is largely expressed extrasynaptically. To clarify the role of the α5GABAA receptors in the control of behavior, a histidine-to-arginine point mutation was introduced in position 105 of the murine α5 subunit gene, which rendered the α5GABAA receptors diazepam-insensitive. Apart from an incomplete muscle relaxing effect, neither the sedative, anticonvulsant, nor anxiolytic-like activity of diazepam was impaired in α5(H1O5R) mice. However, in hippocampal pyramidal cells, the point mutation resulted in a selective reduction of α5GABAA receptors, which altered the drug-independent behavior. In line with the role of the hippocampus in certain forms of associative learning, trace fear conditioning, but not delay conditioning or contextual conditioning, was facilitated in the mutant mice. Trace fear conditioning differs from delay conditioning in that the conditioned and unconditioned stimulus are separated by a time interval. Thus, the largely extrasynaptic α5GABAA receptors in hippocampal pyramidal cells are implicated as control elements of the temporal association of threat cues in trace fear conditioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8980-8985
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 25 2002
Externally publishedYes

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