Molecular characterization of GABA receptor subunits from the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus
MetadataShow full item record
Haemonchus contortus is a parasitic nematode that is controlled by several nematocides which target ion channels. We have identified two H. contortus ion channel genes, Hcounc- 49B and C that encode two GABA-gated chloride channel subunits. Electrophysiological analysis shows that the Hco-UNC-49B subunit forms a functional homomeric channel in Xenopus laevis oocytes that produces a robust response to GABA and is highly sensitive to picrotoxin. In contrast, Hco-UNC-49C alone does not respond to GABA but can assemble with Hco-UNC-49B to form a heteromeric channel with an increased sensitivity to GABA and a lower sensitivity to picrotoxin. To investigate the subunit requirements for high agonist sensitivity, we generated cross-assembled channels by co-expressing the H. contortus subunits with UNC-49 subunits from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (Cel-UNC-49). Co-expressing the Cel-UNC-49B with Hco- UNC-49C produced a heteromeric channel with a low sensitivity to GABA. In contrast, co-expressing Hco-UNC-49B with Cel-UNC-49C produced a heteromeric channel that was highly sensitive to GABA. These results suggest that the Hco-UNC-49B subunit is the key determinant for the high agonist sensitivity of heteromeric channels.