Ionotropic GABA and glutamate receptor signalling


Professor Mark Farrant

Professor of Neuroscience 
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 4121 

Group Members:

Mark Farrant
Stuart Cull-Candy  (Gaddum Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Neuroscience)
Dr Cecile Bats Postdoctoral Fellow, Wellcome Trust
Dr Chris Shelly Postdoctoral Fellow, Wellcome Trust
Dr Ian Coombs Senior Research Associate, Wellcome Trust/HEFCE
Dorota Studniarczyk Technician and Graduate Student, HEFCE
Mark Rigby Graduate Student, Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD Programme
Jolenta Cheung Graduate Student, MRC
Lizzy Needham Graduate Student, BBSRC
Karolina Krol Graduate Student, MRC LCMB Programme


Professor Mark Farrant graduated in Zoology from the University of Nottingham and obtained his PhD in the Department of Pharmacology, UCL. He worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn NY, and returned to UCL as a Senior Research Fellow in the group of Professor Stuart Cull-Candy. He is currently Professor of Neuroscience within the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology. He is also an Instructor on the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory summer course in Ion Channel Physiology and a Reviewing Editor of the Journal of Neuroscience.

I am interested in signalling in the central nervous system mediated by the amino acids glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The main focus of my research is on the ionotropic receptors for these neurotransmitters – multisubunit proteins that form ligand-gated ion channels allowing the passage across the neuronal membrane of anions (GABAA receptors) or cations (AMPA- and NMDA-type glutamate receptors). Their proper function is critical for the maintenance of appropriate neuronal excitability and they are targets for many clinically important drugs. Changes in glutamate receptors are key to learning and memory, while impaired function of GABAA receptors has been implicated in the genesis or expression of numerous brain disorders, including epilepsy.

Our group uses patch-clamp electrophysiology in combination with molecular approaches to investigate the properties of heterologously expressed recombinant receptors and to examine synaptic and non-synaptic signalling in acute brain slices and neuronal cultures from wild-type and mutant or genetically modified mice. The overall aim of our work is to improve understanding of the pharmacological and biophysical properties of neurotransmitter receptors, the regulation of their expression, and the functional significance of their heterogeneity.

Full publication list with PDFs

Selected publications:

  • Renzi M, Farrant M and Cull-Candy SG (2007) Climbing-fibre activation of NMDA receptors in Purkinje cells of adult mice. Journal of Physiology 585: 91-101. Abstract
  • Soto D, Coombs ID, Kelly L, Farrant M and Cull-Candy SG (2007) Stargazin attenuates polyamine block of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors. Nature Neuroscience10: 1260-1267. Abstract
  • Wulff P, Goetz T, Leppa E, Linden AM, Renzi M, Swinny JD, Vekovischeva OY, Sieghart W, Somogyi P, Korpi ER, Farrant M and Wisden W (2007) From synapse to behavior: rapid modulation of defined neuronal types with engineered GABAA receptors. Nature Neuroscience 10: 923-929. Abstract
  • Farrant M and Kaila K (2007) The cellular, molecular and ionic basis of GABAA receptor signalling. Progress in Brain Research 160: 59-87. Abstract
  • Farrant M (2007) Differential activation of GABAA receptor subtypes In Enna S, Mohler H, editors, The GABA Receptors, pp. 87-110. Humanna Press Inc., Clifton, NJ, 3rd edition. Link
  • Silver R and Farrant M (2007) Neurotransmitter-gated channels in dendrites In Stuart G, Spruston N, Häusser M, editors, Dendrites, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2nd edition. Link
  • Cull-Candy SG, Kelly L and Farrant M (2006) Regulation of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors: synaptic plasticity and beyond. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 16: 288-97. Abstract
  • Farrant M and Nusser Z (2005) Variations on an inhibitory theme: phasic and tonic activation of GABAA receptors. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6: 215-29. Abstract Commentary
  • Cathala L, Brickley SG, Cull-Candy SG and Farrant M (2003) Maturation of EPSCs and intrinsic membrane properties enhances precision at a cerebellar synapse. Journal of Neuroscience 23: 6074-85. Full text
  • Stell BM, Brickley SG, Tang CY, Farrant M and Mody I (2003) Neuroactive steroids reduce neuronal excitability by selectively enhancing tonic inhibition mediated by δ subunit-containing GABAA receptors. PNAS 100: 14439-44. Full text
  • Brickley SG, Revilla V, Cull-Candy SG, Wisden W, Farrant M (2001) Adaptive regulation of neuronal excitability by a voltage-independent potassium conductance. Nature 409: 88-92. Abstract