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Differential regulation of striatal motor behavior and related cellular responses by dopamine D2L and D2S isoforms


The dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) is a major component of the dopamine system. D2R-mediated signaling in dopamine neurons is involved in the presynaptic regulation of dopamine levels. Postsynaptically, i.e., in striatal neurons, D2R signaling controls complex functions such as motor activity through regulation of cell firing and heterologous neurotransmitter release. The presence of two isoforms, D2L and D2S, which are generated by a mechanism of alternative splicing of the Drd2 gene, raises the question of whether both isoforms may equally control presynaptic and postsynaptic events. Here, we addressed this question by comparing behavioral and cellular responses of mice with the selective ablation of either D2L or D2S isoform. We establish that the presence of either D2L or D2S can support postsynaptic functions related to the control of motor activity in basal conditions. On the contrary, absence of D2S but not D2L prevents the inhibition of tyrosine hydroxylase phosphorylation and, thereby, of dopamine synthesis, supporting a major presynaptic role for D2S. Interestingly, boosting dopamine signaling in the striatum by acute cocaine administration reveals that absence of D2L, but not of D2S, strongly impairs the motor and cellular response to the drug, in a manner similar to the ablation of both isoforms. These results suggest that when the dopamine system is challenged, D2L signaling is required for the control of striatal circuits regulating motor activity. Thus, our findings show that D2L and D2S share similar functions in basal conditions but not in response to stimulation of the dopamine system.

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