Susan R George

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (108)476.4 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: A role for the dopamine D1–D2 receptor heteromer in the regulation of reward and addiction-related processes has been previously implicated. In the present study, we examined the effects of D1–D2 heteromer stimulation by the agonist SKF 83959 and its disruption by a selective TAT-D1 peptide on amphetamine-induced locomotor sensitization, a behavioral model widely used to study the neuroadaptations associated with psychostimulant addiction. D1–D2 heteromer activation by SKF 83959 did not alter the acute locomotor effects of amphetamine but significantly inhibited amphetamine-induced locomotor responding across the 5 day treatment regimen. In addition, a single injection of SKF 83959 was sufficient to abolish the expression of locomotor sensitization induced by a priming injection of amphetamine after a 72-hour withdrawal. Conversely, inhibition of D1–D2 heteromer activity by the TAT-D1 peptide enhanced subchronic amphetamine-induced locomotion and the expression of amphetamine locomotor sensitization. Treatment solely with the TAT-D1 disrupting peptide during the initial 5 day treatment phase was sufficient to induce a sensitized locomotor phenotype in response to the priming injection of amphetamine. Together these findings demonstrate that the dopamine D1–D2 receptor heteromer exerts a tonic inhibitory control on neurobiological processes involved in sensitization to amphetamine, indicating that the dopamine D1–D2 receptor heteromer may be a novel molecular substrate in addiction processes involving psychostimulants.
    Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 11/2014; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although the dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer has emerging physiological relevance and a postulated role in different neuropsychiatric disorders, such as drug addiction, depression, and schizophrenia, there is a need for pharmacological tools that selectively target such receptor complexes in order to analyze their biological and pathophysiological functions. Since no selective antagonists for the D1-D2 heteromer are available, serial deletions and point mutations were used to precisely identify the amino acids involved in an interaction interface between the receptors, residing within the carboxyl tail of the D1 receptor that interacted with the D2 receptor to form the D1-D2 receptor heteromer. It was determined that D1 receptor carboxyl tail residues (404)Glu and (405)Glu were critical in mediating the interaction with the D2 receptor. Isolated mutation of these residues in the D1 receptor resulted in the loss of agonist activation of the calcium signaling pathway mediated through the D1-D2 receptor heteromer. The physical interaction between the D1 and D2 receptor could be disrupted, as shown by coimmunoprecipitation and BRET analysis, by a small peptide generated from the D1 receptor sequence that contained these amino acids, leading to a switch in G-protein affinities and loss of calcium signaling, resulting in the inhibition of D1-D2 heteromer function. The use of the D1-D2 heteromer-disrupting peptide in vivo revealed a pathophysiological role for the D1-D2 heteromer in the modulation of behavioral despair. This peptide may represent a novel pharmacological tool with potential therapeutic benefits in depression treatment.-Hasbi, A., Perreault, M. L., Shen, M. Y. F., Zhang, L., To, R., Fan, T., Nguyen, T., Ji, X., O'Dowd, B. F., George, S. R. A peptide targeting an interaction interface disrupts the dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer to block signaling and function in vitro and in vivo: effective selective antagonism.
    The FASEB Journal 07/2014; · 5.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The μ-δ opioid receptor heteromer activates the pertussis toxin-resistant Gαz GTP-binding protein following stimulation by the δ-agonist deltorphin-II whereas μ- and δ-receptors activate the pertussis toxin-sensitive Gαi3 protein following stimulation by μ- and δ-agonists, respectively. Although the regulation of the μ-δ heteromer is being investigated extensively in vitro, its physiological relevance remains elusive owing to a lack of available molecular tools. We investigated μ-δ heteromer signaling under basal conditions and following prolonged morphine treatment in rodent brain regions highly co-expressing μ- and δ-receptors and Gαz. Deltorphin-II induced Gαz activation in the striatum and hippocampus, demonstrating the presence of μ-δ heteromer signaling in these brain regions. Prolonged morphine treatment, which desensitizes μ- and δ-receptor function, had no effect on μ-δ heteromer signaling in the brain. Our data demonstrate that μ-δ heteromer signaling does not desensitize and is regulated differently from μ- and δ-receptor signaling following prolonged morphine treatment.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 06/2014; · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescence is a developmental period that has been associated with heightened sensitivity to psychostimulant-induced reward, thus placing adolescents at increased risk to develop drug addiction. Although alterations in dopamine-induced synaptic plasticity are perhaps the most critical factor in mediating addiction processes, developmental differences in the cell signaling mechanisms that contribute to synaptic plasticity, and their contribution to adolescent reward sensitivity, has been grossly understudied. The most abundant dopamine receptors, the D1 and D2 receptors, as well as the dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer, exhibit age-dependent and brain region-specific changes in their expression and function and are responsible for regulating cell signaling pathways known to significantly contribute to the neurobiological mechanisms underlying addiction. The D1-D2 receptor heteromer, for instance, has been associated with calcium calmodulin kinase IIα, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) signaling, three proteins highly implicated in the regulation of glutamate transmission and synaptic plasticity and which regulate addiction to amphetamine, opioids and cocaine. Therefore, in this review the importance of these signaling proteins as potential mediators of addiction susceptibility in adolescence will be highlighted, and the therapeutic potential of the D1-D2 receptor heteromer in addiction will be discussed. It is the overall goal of this review to draw attention to the research gap in dopamine-induced cell signaling in the adolescent brain - knowledge that would provide much-needed insights into adolescent addiction vulnerability. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.
    Developmental Neuroscience 05/2014; · 3.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PET has been used to examine changes in neurotransmitter concentrations in the living brain. Pioneering PET studies on the dopamine system have used D2 and D3 receptor (D2/D3) antagonists such as (11)C-raclopride. However, more recently developed agonist radioligands have shown enhanced sensitivity to endogenous dopamine. A limitation of available agonist radioligands is that they incorporate the short-lived radioisotope (11)C. In the current study, we developed the (18)F-labeled D2/D3 receptor agonist (R)-(-)-2-(18)F-fluoroethoxy-N-n-propylnorapomorphine ((18)F-MCL-524). In total, 10 PET measurements were conducted on 5 cynomolgus monkeys. Initially, the binding of (18)F-MCL-524 was compared with that of (11)C-MNPA in 3 monkeys. Second, the specificity of (18)F-MCL-524 binding was examined in pretreatment studies using raclopride (1.0 mg/kg) and d-amphetamine (1.0 mg/kg). Third, a preliminary kinetic analysis was performed using the radiometabolite-corrected arterial input function of the baseline studies. Finally, 2 whole-body PET measurements were conducted to evaluate biodistribution and radiation dosimetry after intravenous injection of (18)F-MCL-524. (18)F-MCL-524 entered the brain and provided striatum-to-cerebellum ratios suitable for reliable quantification of receptor binding using the multilinear reference tissue model. Mean striatal nondisplaceable binding potential (BPND) values were 2.0 after injection of (18)F-MCL-524 and 1.4 after (11)C-MNPA. The ratio of the BPND values of (18)F-MCL-524 and (11)C-MNPA was 1.5 across striatal subregions. After administration of raclopride and d-amphetamine, the (18)F-MCL-524 BPND values were reduced by 89% and 56%, respectively. Preliminary kinetic analysis demonstrated that BPND values obtained with the 1-tissue- and 2-tissue-compartment models were similar to values obtained with the multilinear reference tissue model. Estimated radiation doses were highest for gallbladder (0.27 mSv/MBq), upper large intestine (0.19 mSv/MBq), and small intestine (0.17 mSv/MBq). The estimated effective dose was 0.035 mSv/MBq. The (18)F-labeled agonist (18)F-MCL-524 appears suitable for quantification of D2/D3 receptor binding in vivo, and the results encourage extension to human studies. The longer half-life of (18)F makes (18)F-MCL-524 attractive for studies on modulation of the dopamine concentration-for example, in combination with simultaneous measurement of changes in blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal using bimodal PET/functional MRI.
    Journal of Nuclear Medicine 05/2014; · 5.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dopamine neurotransmission is traditionally accepted as occurring through the five dopamine receptors that transduce its signal. Recent evidence has demonstrated that the range of physiologically relevant dopamine signaling complexes is greatly expanded by the ability of dopamine receptors to interact with other dopamine receptors and with receptors of other endogenous signaling ligands. These novel heteromeric complexes have functional properties distinct from the component receptors or are able to modulate the canonical signaling and function of the cognate receptors. These dopamine receptor heteromers provide new insight into physiological mechanisms and pathophysiological processes involving dopamine.
    Progress in brain research 01/2014; 211:183-200. · 4.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling through its receptor, tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), plays a critical role in neural plasticity and its dysregulation in striatum and prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been implicated in the etiology of mental health disorders such schizophrenia and drug addiction. In the present study, we characterized age-dependent differences in BDNF signaling and TrkB expression within the nucleus accumbens (NAc), caudate putamen (CP) and PFC in rats and determined the effects of administration of the dopamine agonist, SKF 83959, which activates the Gq-coupled dopamine receptors, the dopamine D5 receptor and the D1-D2 receptor heteromer. As proBDNF binds with high affinity to the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR), expression levels of these proteins were also assessed. The present findings showed that juvenile rats (aged 26-28 days) exhibited significantly elevated basal BDNF expression and activation of full-length TrkB (TrkBfull) in NAc compared to their adult counterparts, as evidenced by increased TrkBfull phosphorylation. These changes were concomitant with an increase in the relative expression of TrkBfull compared to the truncated isoform, TrkB.T1, in NAc and CP. Conversely, in PFC the basal expression of BDNF in juvenile rats was significantly lower than in adult rats with an elevated relative expression of TrkBfull. Acute administration of SKF 83959 to juvenile rats abolished the age-dependent differences in BDNF expression in NAc and PFC, and in the relative expression of TrkBfull in NAc and CP. Together these findings indicate that the expression and/or signaling of BDNF and TrkB in striatum and PFC of juvenile rats is fundamentally different from that of adult rats, a finding that may have implications in neuropsychiatric disorders that exhibit age-dependent susceptibility such as schizophrenia and drug addiction.
    Developmental Neuroscience 09/2013; · 3.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The pharmacological modification of dopamine transmission has long been employed as a therapeutic tool in the treatment of many mental health disorders. However, as many of the pharmacotherapies today are not without significant side effects, or they alleviate only a particular subset of symptoms, the identification of novel therapeutic targets is imperative. In light of these challenges, the recognition that dopamine receptors can form heteromers has significantly expanded the range of physiologically relevant signaling complexes as well as potential drug targets. Furthermore, as the physiology and disease relevance of these receptor heteromers is further understood, their ability to exhibit pharmacological and functional properties distinct from their constituent receptors, or modulate the function of endogenous homomeric receptor complexes may allow for the development of alternate therapeutic strategies and provide new avenues for drug design. In this review, we describe the emerging neurobiology of the known dopamine receptor heteromers, their physiological relevance in brain, and discuss the potential role of these receptor complexes in neuropsychiatric disease. We highlight their value as targets for future drug development and discuss innovative research strategies designed to selectively target these dopamine receptor heteromers in the search for novel and clinically efficacious pharmacotherapies.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 18 June 2013; doi:10.1038/npp.2013.148.
    Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 06/2013; · 8.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although D1 receptor knockout mice demonstrate normal morphine place preferences, antagonism of basolateral amygdala (BLA) D1 receptors only during drug-naive rat conditioning has been reported to inhibit the expression of a morphine place preference. One possible explanation for this result is state-dependent learning. That is, the omission of the intra-BLA infusion cue during testing - which acts as a potent discriminative stimulus - may have prevented the recall of a morphine-environment association and therefore, the consequent expression of a morphine place preference. To examine this possibility, we tested whether intra-BLA infusion of the D1-receptor antagonist SCH23390 during both training and testing might reveal a morphine place preference. Our results suggest that in previously drug-naive animals, D1 receptor antagonism during testing restores the opiate conditioned place preference that is normally absent when D1 receptors are blocked only during training, suggesting that BLA D1 receptors can mediate state-dependent memory retrieval.
    Behavioural brain research 03/2013; · 3.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have demonstrated that D(5) and D(2) dopamine receptors exist as heteromers in cells, and determined these receptor interact through amino acids in the cytoplasmic regions of each receptor. Specifically involved in heteromer formation we identified in the carboxyl tail of the D(5) receptor three adjacent glutamic acid residues, and in intracellular loop 3 of the D(2) receptor two adjacent arginine residues. Any pairing of these three D(5) receptor glutamic acids were sufficient for heteromer formation. These identified residues in D(5) and D(2) receptors are oppositely charged and likely interact by electrostatic interactions.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 01/2013; · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The goal of this study was to determine whether two stressors commonly used to model aspects of neuropsychiatric disease in rats have an additive effect on striatal dopamine type 2 receptor (D2R) expression, a key player in the etiology of neuropsychiatric disease. Animals subjected to early postnatal stress show alterations in function of the dopaminergic system thought to be mediated by stress-induced glucocorticoid release. Subsequent stress during puberty is known to further impact the dopaminergic system and result in dopaminergic hyperactivity analogous to schizophrenia. We exposed rats to maternal deprivation (MD) during the second postnatal week, a time of active striatal development. A subset of these animals were then subjected to pubertal stress induced by immobilization. Both procedures are know to induce glucocorticoid release. At the conclusion of the MD protocol, we observed upregulation in the expression of D2R and of dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein 32-KD (DARPP-32; PPP1R1B), but not of D1R, calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II beta (CaMKIIβ), CaMKIIα or neurokinin B (NKB). Animals exposed to pubertal stress showed upregulation in expression of both D2R and CaMKIIβ. Furthermore, rats previously exposed to MD showed a much greater upregulation in CaMKIIβ expression, than animals only exposed to pubertal stress. These results support the two-hit hypothesis, indicating that such stressors have an additive effect. The main targets appear to be the D2R and the CaMKIIβ, the latter being an important member of the DR signalling pathway, both of which are associated with schizophrenia.
    International journal of developmental neuroscience: the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience 01/2013; · 2.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background / Purpose: Brain defects during development are significant risk factors for schizophrenia. The second trimester in humans is a period of active striatal development and environmental insults during this time are associated with increased risk for neuropsychiatric disease. The equivalent stage in rats occurs during the second postnatal week. Because abnormal development of striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) is thought to lead to pathology underlying major psychiatric illnesses, we studied the expression pattern of genes involved in striatal development and genes associated with key MSN-specific pathways during the first two postnatal weeks in rats. Main conclusion: Striatal neurons undergo a strictly timed developmental switch in gene expression networks, involving key striatal projection neuron genes, in particular the D1 and D2 receptors. Therefore, before this developmental switch, striatal neurons lack their MSN phenotype. This maturation process is followed by a striking striatal-specific myelination event. As in the case of many strictly controlled developmental processes, it is likely to be susceptible to environmental insults. Indeed, this period is known to be a susceptibility period in both humans and rats.Copyrights: Tables 1-2 and Figures 2-5 were reproduced with kind permission from Novak et al (2012) Synapse Nov 26.
    51st Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) 2012; 01/2013
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    ABSTRACT: Because abnormal development of striatal neurons is thought to be part of pathology underlying major psychiatric illnesses, we studied the expression pattern of genes involved in striatal development and of genes comprising key striatal-specific pathways, during an active striatal maturation period, the first two postnatal weeks in rat. This period parallels human striatal development during the second trimester, when prenatal stress is though to lead to increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. In order to identify genes involved in this developmental process, we used subtractive hybridization, followed by quantitative real-time PCR., which allowed us to characterize the developmental expression of over 60 genes, many not previously known to play a role in neuromaturation. Of these 12 were novel transcripts, which did not match known genes, but which showed strict developmental expression and may play a role in striatal neurodevelopment. We show that during the first two postnatal weeks in rat, an early gene expression network, still lacking key striatal-specific signaling pathways, is downregulated and replaced by a mature gene expression network, containing key striatal-specific genes including the dopamine D1 and D2 receptors, conferring to these neurons their functional identity. Therefore, before this developmental switch, striatal neurons lack many of their key phenotypic characteristics. This maturation process is followed by a striking rise in expression of myelination genes, indicating a striatal-specific myelination event. Such strictly controlled developmental program has the potential to be a point of susceptibility to disruption by external factors. Indeed, this period is known to be a susceptibility period in both humans and rats. Synapse, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Synapse 11/2012; · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The dopamine D5 receptor (D5R) exhibits a wide distribution in prefrontal cortex (PFC) but its role in this region has not yet been elucidated. In the present study, we identified a novel physiological function for the D5R as a regulator of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and Akt signalling in PFC. Specifically, acute activation of the D5R by the dopamine agonist SKF 83959 enhanced BDNF expression and signalling through its receptor, tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), in rats and in mice gene-deleted for the D1 receptor but not the D5R. These changes were concomitant with increased expression of GAD67, a protein whose down-regulation has been implicated in the aetiology of schizophrenia. Furthermore, D5R activation increased phosphorylation of Akt at the Ser473 site, consequently decreasing the activity of its substrate GSK-3β. These findings could have wide-reaching implications given evidence showing activation of these pathways in PFC has therapeutic effects in neuropsychiatric disorders such as drug addiction, schizophrenia and depression.
    The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 07/2012; · 5.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The crystal structure of the mu and kappa opioid receptors has revealed dimeric structural arrangements. Mu-delta receptors heteromers also exist and we have identified discrete cytoplasmic regions in each receptor required for oligomer formation. In the carboxyl tail of the delta receptor we identified three glycine residues (-GGG), substitution of any of these residues prevented heteromer formation. In intracellular loop 3 of both mu and delta receptors we identified three residues (-SVR), substitution of any of these residues prevented heteromer formation.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 05/2012; 422(4):556-60. · 2.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nicotine, the main psychoactive ingredient of tobacco smoke, induces negative motivational symptoms during withdrawal that contribute to relapse in dependent individuals. The neurobiological mechanisms underlying how the brain signals nicotine withdrawal remain poorly understood. Using electrophysiological, genetic, pharmacological, and behavioral methods, we demonstrate that tonic but not phasic activity is reduced during nicotine withdrawal in ventral tegmental area dopamine (DA) neurons, and that this pattern of signaling acts through DA D2 and adenosine A2A, but not DA D1, receptors. Selective blockade of phasic DA activity prevents the expression of conditioned place aversions to a single injection of nicotine in nondependent mice, but not to withdrawal from chronic nicotine in dependent mice, suggesting a shift from phasic to tonic dopaminergic mediation of the conditioned motivational response in nicotine dependent and withdrawn animals. Either increasing or decreasing activity at D2 or A2A receptors prevents the aversive motivational response to withdrawal from chronic nicotine, but not to acute nicotine. Modification of D1 receptor activity prevents the aversive response to acute nicotine, but not to nicotine withdrawal. This double dissociation demonstrates that the specific pattern of tonic DA activity at D2 receptors is a key mechanism in signaling the motivational effects experienced during nicotine withdrawal, and may represent a unique target for therapeutic treatments for nicotine addiction.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2012; 109(8):3101-6. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Because abnormal development of striatal neurons is thought to be part of pathology underlying major psychiatric illnesses, we studied the expression pattern of genes involved in striatal development and of genes comprising key striatal-specific pathways, during an active striatal maturation period, the first two postnatal weeks in rat. This period parallels human striatal development during the second trimester, when prenatal stress is though to lead to increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. In order to identify additional genes involved in this developmental process, we used subtractive hybridization, followed by quantitative real-time PCR., which allowed us to characterize the developmental expression of over 60 genes, many not previously known to play a role in neuromaturation. Of these, 12 were novel transcripts, which did not match known genes, but which showed strict developmental expression and, therefore, may play a role in striatal neurodevelopment. In summary, we show that during the first two postnatal weeks in rat, an early gene expression network, still lacking key striatal-specific signaling pathways, is downregulated and replaced by a mature gene expression network, containing key striatal-specific genes including the D1 and D2 receptors, conferring to these neurons their functional identity. Therefore, before this developmental switch, striatal neurons lack many of their key characteristics. Furthermore, this maturation process is followed by a striking rise in expression of myelination genes, indicating a striatal-specific myelination event. Such strictly controlled developmental program has the potential to be susceptible to disruption by external factors. Indeed, this period is known to be a susceptibility period in both humans and rats.
    Synapse 01/2012; · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In basal ganglia a significant subset of GABAergic medium spiny neurons (MSNs) coexpress D1 and D2 receptors (D1R and D2R) along with the neuropeptides dynorphin (DYN) and enkephalin (ENK). These coexpressing neurons have been recently shown to have a region-specific distribution throughout the mesolimbic and basal ganglia circuits. While the functional relevance of these MSNs remains relatively unexplored, they have been shown to exhibit the unique property of expressing the dopamine D1-D2 receptor heteromer, a novel receptor complex with distinct pharmacology and cell signaling properties. Here we showed that MSNs coexpressing the D1R and D2R also exhibited a dual GABA/glutamate phenotype. Activation of the D1R-D2R heteromer in these neurons resulted in the simultaneous, but differential regulation of proteins involved in GABA and glutamate production or vesicular uptake in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), ventral tegmental area (VTA), caudate putamen and substantia nigra (SN). Additionally, activation of the D1R-D2R heteromer in NAc shell, but not NAc core, differentially altered protein expression in VTA and SN, regions rich in dopamine cell bodies. The identification of a MSN with dual inhibitory and excitatory intrinsic functions provides new insights into the neuroanatomy of the basal ganglia and demonstrates a novel source of glutamate in this circuit. Furthermore, the demonstration of a dopamine receptor complex with the potential to differentially regulate the expression of proteins directly involved in GABAergic inhibitory or glutamatergic excitatory activation in VTA and SN may potentially provide new insights into the regulation of dopamine neuron activity. This could have broad implications in understanding how dysregulation of neurotransmission within basal ganglia contributes to dopamine neuronal dysfunction.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e33348. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • PLoS ONE 01/2012; · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: D(1) and D(2) dopamine receptors exist as heteromers in cells and brain tissue and are dynamically regulated and separated by agonist concentrations at the cell surface. We determined that these receptor pairs interact primarily through discrete amino acids in the cytoplasmic regions of each receptor, with no evidence of any D(1)-D(2) receptor transmembrane interaction found. Specifically involved in heteromer formation we identified, in intracellular loop 3 of the D(2) receptor, two adjacent arginine residues. Substitution of one of the arginine pair prevented heteromer formation. Also involved in heteromer formation we identified, in the carboxyl tail of the D(1) receptor, two adjacent glutamic acid residues. Substitution of one of the glutamic acid pair prevented heteromer formation. These amino acid pairs in D(1) and D(2) receptors are oppositely charged, and presumably interact directly by electrostatic interactions.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 11/2011; 417(1):23-8. · 2.28 Impact Factor