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Elucidation of G-protein and β-arrestin functional selectivity at the dopamine D2 receptor

Peterson, Sean M., Pack, Thomas F., Wilkins, Angela D., Urs, Nikhil M., Urban, Daniel J., Bass, Caroline E., Lichtarge, Olivier, Caron, Marc G.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2015 v.112 no.22 pp. 7097-7102
G-proteins, dopamine, dopamine receptors, physiology, signal transduction
The neuromodulator dopamine signals through the dopamine D2 receptor (D ₂R) to modulate central nervous system functions through diverse signal transduction pathways. D ₂R is a prominent target for drug treatments in disorders where dopamine function is aberrant, such as schizophrenia. D ₂R signals through distinct G-protein and β-arrestin pathways, and drugs that are functionally selective for these pathways could have improved therapeutic potential. How D ₂R signals through the two pathways is still not well defined, and efforts to elucidate these pathways have been hampered by the lack of adequate tools for assessing the contribution of each pathway independently. To address this, Evolutionary Trace was used to produce D ₂R mutants with strongly biased signal transduction for either the G-protein or β-arrestin interactions. These mutants were used to resolve the role of G proteins and β-arrestins in D ₂R signaling assays. The results show that D ₂R interactions with the two downstream effectors are dissociable and that G-protein signaling accounts for D ₂R canonical MAP kinase signaling cascade activation, whereas β-arrestin only activates elements of this cascade under certain conditions. Nevertheless, when expressed in mice in GABAergic medium spiny neurons of the striatum, the β-arrestin–biased D ₂R caused a significant potentiation of amphetamine-induced locomotion, whereas the G protein-biased D ₂R had minimal effects. The mutant receptors generated here provide a molecular tool set that should enable a better definition of the individual roles of G-protein and β-arrestin signaling pathways in D ₂R pharmacology, neurobiology, and associated pathologies.