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

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

T +43 1 40160 34065


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

Research group(s)

  • Ernst lab

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


  • 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
  • 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. Middendorp, S.J. et al., 2014. Accelerated Discovery of Novel Benzodiazepine Ligands by Experiment-Guided Virtual Screening. ACS Chemical Biology, 9(8), pp.1854-1859. Available at:
  2. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2015 Sep 25.
  3. Varagic, Z. et al., 2013. Subtype selectivity of α+β�� site ligands of GABA A receptors: identification of the first highly specific positive modulators at α6β2/3γ2 receptors . British Journal of Pharmacology, 169(2), pp.384-399. 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: