Maintaining the correct balance in neuronal activation is of paramount importance to normal brain function. Imbalances due to changes in excitation or inhibition can lead to a variety of disorders ranging from the clinically extreme (e.g. epilepsy) to the more subtle (e.g. anxiety). In the brain, the most common inhibitory synapses are regulated by GABAA (γ-aminobutyric acid type A) receptors, a role commensurate with their importance as therapeutic targets. Remarkably, we still know relatively little about GABAA receptor biogenesis. Receptors are constructed as pentameric ion channels, with α and β subunits being the minimal requirement, and the incorporation of a γ subunit being necessary for benzodiazepine modulation and synaptic targeting. Insights have been provided by the discovery of several specific assembly signals within different GABAA receptor subunits. Moreover, a number of recent studies on GABAA receptor mutations associated with epilepsy have further enhanced our understanding of GABAA receptor biogenesis, structure and function.

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