High throughput techniques for discovering new glycine receptor modulators and their binding sites
Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia
School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia
The inhibitory glycine receptor (GlyR) is a member of the Cys-loop receptor family that mediates inhibitory neurotransmission in the central nervous system. These receptors are emerging as potential drug targets for inflammatory pain, immunomodulation, spasticity and epilepsy. Antagonists that specifically inhibit particular GlyR isoforms are also required as pharmacological probes for elucidating the roles of particular GlyR isoforms in health and disease. Although a substantial number of both positive and negative GlyR modulators have been identified, very few of these are specific for the GlyR over other receptor types. Thus, the potential of known compounds as either therapeutic leads or pharmacological probes is limited. It is therefore surprising that there have been few published studies describing attempts to discover novel GlyR isoform-specific compounds. The first aim of this review is to consider various methods for efficiently screening compounds against these receptors. We conclude that an anion sensitive yellow fluorescent protein is optimal for primary screening and that automated electrophysiology of cells stably expressing GlyRs is useful for confirming hits and quantitating the actions of identified compounds. The second aim of this review is to demonstrate how these techniques are used in our laboratory for the purpose of both discovering novel GlyR-active compounds and characterizing their binding sites. We also describe a reliable, cost effective method for transfecting HEK293 cells in single wells of a 384 well plate using nanogram quantities of cDNA.
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