Reference work entry
γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain, where it was first discovered in 1950. It is a small zwitterionic γ-amino acid with molecular weight of 103 g/mol (Fig. 1). Such a hydrophilic molecule cannot cross the blood brain barrier. It is produced in the brain by decarboxylation of L-glutamate by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). GABA was recognized as an inhibitory transmitter in 1967. It interacts with two types of receptors: ionotropic GABA A receptors (GABA ARs) that are fast-acting ligand-gated chloride channels, and metabotropic GABA B receptors that are coupled indirectly via G Proteins to either Ca 2+ or K + channels to produce slow and prolonged inhibitory responses. The first GABA AR subunits were cloned in 1987. Since then, molecular biological, electrophysiological, and pharmacological studies have revealed the highly...
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