Skip to main content Deutsch


Margot Ernst
Assoc. Prof. Priv. Doz. Dr. Margot Ernst, PhD

Center for Brain Research (Division of Molecular Neurosciences)
Position: Associate Professor

ORCID: 0000-0002-9809-2649
T +43 1 40160 34065


Allosteric Regulation; Molecular Docking Simulation; Receptors, GABA-A; Structural Homology, Protein

Research group(s)

  • Ernst lab
    Head: Margot Ernst
    Research Area: GABA-A receptor subtypes, their structure and pharmacology. Role of GABA-A receptors in neuropsychiatric disorders.Current Members: Konstantina Bampali, Xenia Simeone, Jure Fabjan, Sabah Rehman

Research interests

  • GABAA receptor subtype structure and pharmacology,
  • structure prediction,
  • protein/ ligand interactions,
  • development of hybrid methods (experimentally guided in silico methods) to improve model accuracy in binding sites,
  • mechanism of allosteric modulation,
  • benzodiazepine site pharmacology,
  • binding site identification.

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

  • Experimental methods: Two electrode voltage clamp recordings of GABA-A receptor subtypes expressed in Xenopus oocytes, mutational analysis, radioligand binding assays of native and recombinantly expressed receptors.
  • Computational techniques: Comparative modeling, multi-template modeling, computational docking


  • Medical Neurosciences (DOC 33- B27) (2018)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), doc.funds Programme
    Principal Investigator
  • Role of alpha-6 GABA-A Receptors in Neuropsychiatric Diseases (2015)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Joint Projects
    Principal Investigator
  • Ligands for the GABAA receptor alpha+ /beta- interface (2014)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects
    Principal Investigator
  • Molecular Drug Targets (faculty member), coordinated by Gerhard F. Ecker (2010)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Doctoral Programmes (W 1232)
    Principal Investigator
  • Identification of drug binding sites in GABA-A receptors (2007)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects
    Principal Investigator

Selected publications

  1. Sigel, E. & Ernst, M., 2018. The Benzodiazepine Binding Sites of GABA A Receptors. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 39(7), pp.659-671. Available at:
  2. Treven, M. et al., 2017. Towards functional selectivity for α6β3γ2 GABAA receptors: a series of novel pyrazoloquinolinones. British Journal of Pharmacology, 175(3), pp.419-428. Available at:
  3. Puthenkalam, R. et al., 2016. Structural Studies of GABAA Receptor Binding Sites: Which Experimental Structure Tells us What? Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 9. Available at:
  4. Varagic, Z. et al., 2013. Identification of novel positive allosteric modulators and null modulators at the GABA A receptor α+β�� interface . British Journal of Pharmacology, 169(2), pp.371-383. Available at:
  5. Richter, L. et al., 2012. Diazepam-bound GABAA receptor models identify new benzodiazepine binding-site ligands. Nat Chem Biol, 8(5), pp.455-464. Available at: