Gamma-aminobutyric acid B receptors (GABABRs) are heterodimeric G-protein coupled receptors, which mediate slow synaptic inhibition in the brain. Emerging evidence suggests astrocytes also express GABABRs, although their physiological significance remains unknown. To begin addressing this issue, we have used imaging and biochemical analysis to examine the role GABABRs play in regulating astrocytic Ca2+ signalling. Using live imaging of cultured cortical astrocytes loaded with calcium indicator Fluo-4/AM, we found that astrocytic GABABRs are able to induce astrocytic calcium transients only if they are pre-activated by P2 purinoceptors (P2YRs). The GABABR-mediated calcium transients were attenuated by the removal of extracellular calcium. Furthermore, P2YRs enhance the phosphorylation of astrocytic GABABR R2 subunits on both serine 783 (S783) and serine 892 (S892), two phosphorylation sites that are well known to regulate the activity and the cell surface stability of GABABRs. Collectively these results suggest that P2YR mediated signalling is an important determinant of GABABR activity and phosphorylation in astrocytes.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘GABAergic Signaling in Health and Disease’.