Ethanol’s Molecular Targets

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Sci. Signal.  15 Jul 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 28, pp. re7
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.128re7

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For much of the 20th century, it was widely believed that ethanol exerts its effects on neuronal function in a nonspecific manner—perhaps through the disordering of membrane lipids. However, over the past two decades, evidence has mounted that ethanol instead produces its effects by altering the functioning of specific proteins through its interaction with a select few amino acids in those proteins. In this Review with 2 figures and 60 citations, we focus on proteins for which evidence for specific alcohol binding sites has been obtained, and we briefly describe and compare these ethanol receptors.