GABA neurotransmission requires a specialized set of proteins to synthesize, transport or respond to GABA. This article reviews results from a genetic strategy in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans designed to identify the genes responsible for these activities. These studies identified mutations in genes encoding five different proteins: the biosynthetic enzyme for GABA, the vesicular GABA transporter, a transcription factor that determines GABA neuron identity, a classic inhibitory GABA receptor and a novel excitatory GABA receptor. This review discusses the strategy employed to identify these genes as well as the conclusions about GABA transmission derived from study of the mutant phenotypes.
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