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1.  A propofol binding site on mammalian GABAA receptors identified by photolabeling 
Nature chemical biology  2013;9(11):715-720.
Propofol is the most important intravenous general anesthetic in current clinical use. It acts by potentiating GABAA receptors, but where it binds to this receptor is not known and has been a matter of some controversy. We have synthesized a novel propofol analogue photolabeling reagent that has a biological activity very similar to that of propofol. We confirmed that this reagent labeled known propofol binding sites in human serum albumin which have been identified using X-ray crystallography. Using a combination of the protiated label and a deuterated version, and mammalian receptors labeled in intact membranes, we have identified a novel binding site for propofol in GABAA receptors consisting of both β3 homopentamers and α1β3 heteropentamers. The binding site is located within the β subunit, at the interface between the transmembrane domains and the extracellular domain, and lies close to known determinants of anesthetic sensitivity in transmembrane segments TM1 and TM2.
PMCID: PMC3951778  PMID: 24056400
2.  Deep Amino Acid Sequencing of Native Brain GABAA Receptors Using High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2011;11(1):M111.011445.
Mass spectrometric sequencing of low abundance, integral membrane proteins, particularly the transmembrane domains, presents challenges that span the multiple phases of sample preparation including solubilization, purification, enzymatic digestion, peptide extraction, and chromatographic separation. We describe a method through which we have obtained high peptide coverage for 12 γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABAA receptor) subunits from 2 picomoles of affinity-purified GABAA receptors from rat brain neocortex. Focusing on the α1 subunit, we identified peptides covering 96% of the protein sequence from fragmentation spectra (MS2) using a database searching algorithm and deduced 80% of the amino acid residues in the protein from de novo sequencing of Orbitrap spectra. The workflow combined microscale membrane protein solubilization, protein delipidation, in-solution multi-enzyme digestion, multiple stationary phases for peptide extraction, and acquisition of high-resolution full scan and fragmentation spectra. For de novo sequencing of peptides containing the transmembrane domains, timed digestions with chymotrypsin were utilized to generate peptides with overlapping sequences that were then recovered by sequential solid phase extraction using a C4 followed by a porous graphitic carbon stationary phase. The specificity of peptide identifications and amino acid residue sequences was increased by high mass accuracy and charge state assignment to parent and fragment ions. Analysis of three separate brain samples demonstrated that 78% of the sequence of the α1 subunit was observed in all three replicates with an additional 13% covered in two of the three replicates, indicating a high degree of sequence coverage reproducibility. Label-free quantitative analysis was applied to the three replicates to determine the relative abundances of 11 γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor subunits. The deep sequence MS data also revealed two N-glycosylation sites on the α1 subunit, confirmed two splice variants of the γ2 subunit (γ2L and γ2S) and resolved a database discrepancy in the sequence of the α5 subunit.
PMCID: PMC3270104  PMID: 22338125
3.  15q13.3 microdeletions increase risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsy 
Nature genetics  2009;41(2):160-162.
We identified 15q13.3 microdeletions encompassing the CHRNA7 gene in 12 of 1,223 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE), which were not detected in 3,699 controls (joint P = 5.32 × 10−8). Most deletion carriers showed common IGE syndromes without other features previously associated with 15q13.3 microdeletions, such as intellectual disability, autism or schizophrenia. Our results indicate that 15q13.3 microdeletions constitute the most prevalent risk factor for common epilepsies identified to date.
PMCID: PMC3026630  PMID: 19136953
4.  Recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 predispose to idiopathic generalized epilepsies 
Brain  2009;133(1):23-32.
Idiopathic generalized epilepsies account for 30% of all epilepsies. Despite a predominant genetic aetiology, the genetic factors predisposing to idiopathic generalized epilepsies remain elusive. Studies of structural genomic variations have revealed a significant excess of recurrent microdeletions at 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 in various neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, intellectual disability and schizophrenia. Microdeletions at 15q13.3 have recently been shown to constitute a strong genetic risk factor for common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes, implicating that other recurrent microdeletions may also be involved in epileptogenesis. This study aimed to investigate the impact of five microdeletions at the genomic hotspot regions 1q21.1, 15q11.2, 16p11.2, 16p13.11 and 22q11.2 on the genetic risk to common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The candidate microdeletions were assessed by high-density single nucleotide polymorphism arrays in 1234 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy from North-western Europe and 3022 controls from the German population. Microdeletions were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and their breakpoints refined by array comparative genomic hybridization. In total, 22 patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (1.8%) carried one of the five novel microdeletions compared with nine controls (0.3%) (odds ratio = 6.1; 95% confidence interval 2.8–13.2; χ2 = 26.7; 1 degree of freedom; P = 2.4 × 10−7). Microdeletions were observed at 1q21.1 [Idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE)/control: 1/1], 15q11.2 (IGE/control: 12/6), 16p11.2 IGE/control: 1/0, 16p13.11 (IGE/control: 6/2) and 22q11.2 (IGE/control: 2/0). Significant associations with IGEs were found for the microdeletions at 15q11.2 (odds ratio = 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.8–13.2; P = 4.2 × 10−4) and 16p13.11 (odds ratio = 7.4; 95% confidence interval 1.3–74.7; P = 0.009). Including nine patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in this cohort with known 15q13.3 microdeletions (IGE/control: 9/0), parental transmission could be examined in 14 families. While 10 microdeletions were inherited (seven maternal and three paternal transmissions), four microdeletions occurred de novo at 15q13.3 (n = 1), 16p13.11 (n = 2) and 22q11.2 (n = 1). Eight of the transmitting parents were clinically unaffected, suggesting that the microdeletion itself is not sufficient to cause the epilepsy phenotype. Although the microdeletions investigated are individually rare (<1%) in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, they collectively seem to account for a significant fraction of the genetic variance in common idiopathic generalized epilepsy syndromes. The present results indicate an involvement of microdeletions at 15q11.2 and 16p13.11 in epileptogenesis and strengthen the evidence that recurrent microdeletions at 15q11.2, 15q13.3 and 16p13.11 confer a pleiotropic susceptibility effect to a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC2801323  PMID: 19843651
idiopathic generalized epilepsy; microdeletions; association; genetics

Results 1-4 (4)