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Are GABA Receptors Present in the Sciatic Nerve?
Leena Youssefian
Mentor: Zulma Duenas-Gomez & Ricardo Miledi
It is known that in humans, as in all vertebrates, the central and peripheral nervous systems play
essential roles in the transmission and assimilation of the information of our environment. This
information is processed through neuronal synaptic communications, mediated by excitatory and
inhibitory neurotransmitters and their corresponding receptors. To study the neurotransmitter
receptors, we use different methods to try to characterize them and to understand how they work.
Previous work shows that receptors to Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), the main inhibitory
neurotransmitter in all vertebrates, including humans, are present throughout the central nervous
system. However, GABA receptors in the peripheral nervous system have not been well studied. For
that reason, this project is targeted to see if GABA receptors are present in the nerves of the
peripheral nervous system, using the sciatic nerve as a convenient source. Two methodologies are
used. One is isolation of messenger RNA from the rat sciatic nerve and injection into Xenopus
oocytes to express any encoded receptors. The second consists of microtransplanting membranes
from the sciatic nerve to Xenopus oocytes. Electrophysiological procedures and western blot analysis
are then used to see if receptors are present. So far we have not detected GABA receptors. At this
point we can conclude that GABA receptors are not coding for GABAA present in the rat sciatic
nerve, or are present in numbers too small to be detected. Thus, the sciatic nerve contrasts with the
optic nerve, which does contain mRNA receptors.