GABAa receptor target of tetramethylenedisulfotetramine

Chunqing Zhao, Sung Hee Hwang, Bruce A. Buchholz, Timothy S. Carpenter, Felice C Lightstone, Jun Yang, Bruce D. Hammock, John E. Casida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Use of the highly toxic and easily prepared rodenticide tetramethylenedisulfotetramine (TETS) was banned after thousands of accidental or intentional human poisonings, but it is of continued concern as a chemical threat agent. TETS is a noncompetitive blocker of the GABA type A receptor (GABAAR), but its molecular interaction has not been directly established for lack of a suitable radioligand to localize the binding site. We synthesized [14C] TETS (14 mCi/mmol, radiochemical purity >99%) by reacting sulfamide with H14CHO and s-trioxane then completion of the sequential cyclization with excess HCHO. The outstanding radiocarbon sensitivity of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) allowed the use of [ 14C]TETS in neuroreceptor binding studies with rat brain membranes in comparison with the standard GABAAR radioligand 4′-ethynyl-4- n-[3H]propylbicycloorthobenzoate ([3H]EBOB) (46 Ci/mmol), illustrating the use of AMS for characterizing the binding sites of high-affinity 14C radioligands. Fourteen noncompetitive antagonists of widely diverse chemotypes assayed at 1 or 10 μM inhibited [ 14C]TETS and [3H]EBOB binding to a similar extent (r 2 = 0.71). Molecular dynamics simulations of these 14 toxicants in the pore region of the α1β2γ2 GABAAR predict unique and significant polar interactions for TETS with α1T1′ and γ2S2′, which are not observed for EBOB or the GABAergic insecticides. Several GABAAR modulators similarly inhibited [14C]TETS and [3H]EBOB binding, including midazolam, flurazepam, avermectin Ba1, baclofen, isoguvacine, and propofol, at 1 or 10 μM, providing an in vitro system for recognizing candidate antidotes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8607-8612
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 10 2014


  • Convulsant
  • Molecular modeling
  • Neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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