Polymorphic variants of the dopamine D4 receptor have been consistently associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the functional significance of the risk polymorphism (variable number of tandem repeats in exon 3) is still unclear. Here, we show that whereas the most frequent 4-repeat (D4.4) and the 2-repeat (D4.2) variants form functional heteromers with the short isoform of the dopamine D2 receptor (D2S), the 7-repeat risk allele (D4.7) does not. D2 receptor activation in the D2S–D4 receptor heteromer potentiates D4 receptor-mediated MAPK signaling in transfected cells and in the striatum, which did not occur in cells expressing D4.7 or in the striatum of knockin mutant mice carrying the 7 repeats of the human D4.7 in the third intracellular loop of the D4 receptor. In the striatum, D4 receptors are localized in corticostriatal glutamatergic terminals, where they selectively modulate glutamatergic neurotransmission by interacting with D2S receptors. This interaction shows the same qualitative characteristics than the D2S–D4 receptor heteromer-mediated mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling and D2S receptor activation potentiates D4 receptor-mediated inhibition of striatal glutamate release. It is therefore postulated that dysfunctional D2S–D4.7 heteromers may impair presynaptic dopaminergic control of corticostriatal glutamatergic neurotransmission and explain functional deficits associated with ADHD.
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We thank the technical help from Jasmina Jiménez (University of Barcelona). The study was supported by the NIDA IRP funds and from Grants from Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (SAF2008-03229-E, SAF2009-07276, SAF2010-18472, SAF2008-01462 and Consolider-Ingenio CSD2008-00005) and from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México (50428-M). PJM is a Ramón y Cajal Fellow.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Molecular Psychiatry website
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González, S., Rangel-Barajas, C., Peper, M. et al. Dopamine D4 receptor, but not the ADHD-associated D4.7 variant, forms functional heteromers with the dopamine D2S receptor in the brain. Mol Psychiatry 17, 650–662 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2011.93
- dopamine receptors
- receptor heteromers
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