Page last updated: August 20, 2013
Rare alpine bacteria helps identify one of alcohol’s key gateways to the brain

From a rare bacteria that grows only on rocks in the Swiss Alps, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the Pasteur Institute in France have identified how alcohol might affect key brain proteins.

The study helps describe the structure of the brain protein, called a ligand-gated ion channel, which is a key enabler of many of the primary physiological and behavioral effects of alcohol.

“Now that we’ve identified this key brain protein and understand its structure, it’s possible to imagine developing a drug that could block the binding site,” said Adron Harris, Ph.D., director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction at The University of Texas at Austin.

Source: Structural basis for potentiation by alcohols and anaesthetics in a ligand-gated ion channel. Ludovic Sauguet, Rebecca J. Howard, Laurie Malherbe, Ui S. Lee, Pierre-Jean Corringer,  R. Adron Harris & Marc Delarue. Nature Communications 4, Article number: 1697

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