Ubiquitin-proteasome dependent degradation of GABAAα1 in autism spectrum disorder

Amanda Crider, Chirayu D. Pandya, Diya Peter, Anthony O. Ahmed, Anilkumar Pillai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Although the neurobiological basis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not fully understood, recent studies have indicated the potential role of GABAAreceptors in the pathophysiology of ASD. GABAAreceptors play a crucial role in various neurodevelopmental processes and adult neuroplasticity. However, the mechanism(s) of regulation of GABAAreceptors in ASD remains poorly understood. Methods. Postmortem middle frontal gyrus tissues (13 ASD and 13 control subjects) were used. In vitro studies were performed in primary cortical neurons at days in vitro (DIV) 14. The protein levels were examined by western blotting. Immunofluorescence studies were employed for cellular localization. The gene expression was determined by RT-PCR array and qRT-PCR. Results: A significant decrease in GABAAα1 protein, but not mRNA levels was found in the middle frontal gyrus of ASD subjects indicating a post-translational regulation of GABAAreceptors in ASD. At the cellular level, treatment with proteasomal inhibitor, MG132, or lactacystin significantly increased GABAAα1 protein levels and Lys48-linked polyubiquitination of GABAAα1, but reduced proteasome activity in mouse primary cortical neurons (DIV 14 from E16 embryos). Moreover, treatment with betulinic acid, a proteasome activator significantly decreased GABAAα1 protein levels in cortical neurons indicating the role of polyubiquitination of GABAAα1 proteins with their subsequent proteasomal degradation in cortical neurons. Ubiquitination specific RT-PCR array followed by western blot analysis revealed a significant increase in SYVN1, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated degradation (ERAD) E3 ubiquitin ligase in the middle frontal gyrus of ASD subjects. In addition, the inhibition of proteasomal activity by MG132 increased the expression of GABAAα1 in the ER. The siRNA knockdown of SYVN1 significantly increased GABAAα1 protein levels in cortical neurons. Moreover, reduced association between SYVN1 and GABAAα1 was found in the middle frontal gyrus of ASD subjects. Conclusions: SYVN1 plays a critical role as an E3 ligase in the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS)-mediated GABAAα1 degradation. Thus, inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome-mediated GABAAα1 degradation may be an important mechanism for preventing GABAAα1 turnover to maintain GABAAα1 levels and GABA signaling in ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalMolecular Autism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Crider et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


  • Autism
  • GABAreceptor
  • Neurons
  • SYVN1
  • Ubiquitination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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