, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 313-323

Molecular genetic analysis of the role of GABAergic systems in the behavioral and cellular actions of alcohol

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Recent studies implicate the inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in many neurochemical actions of ethanol and a variety of behavioral responses to acute and chronic ethanol treatment. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for genetic differences in initial neurochemical or behavioral sensitivity to ethanol, and adaptation following chronic or repeated ethanol administration, remain to be elucidated. Pharmacogenetic research will increasingly move toward mapping, cloning, identification, and functional analysis of the genes underlying the actions of ethanol. The approaches discussed here permit molecular analysis of both known and previously unknown genes regulating behavioral sensitivity to ethanol. The synthesis of molecular methods and behavioral genetics offers immediate hope for delineating the role of the GABAA receptor complex, and other determinants of GABAergic neurotransmission, in determining genetic variation in behavioral responses to ethanol.