Abbreviations used: E, embryonic day; P, postnatal day; RARE, retinoic acid-responsive element; T3, triiodothyronine.
Abstract: The time course of D2 receptor expression assessed by the levels of the corresponding binding sites and mRNA was studied in rat striatum during ontogenesis and in primary cultures of cells taken at embryonic day (E) 17 and postnatal day (P) 4. In the two experimental situations, the amount of D2 receptor mRNA and number of binding sites increased regularly from E16 to P15, indicating that expression of D2 receptors in striatal neurons occurs independently from a dopaminergic input. Incubation of striatal primary cultures with 10−5M retinoic acid significantly increased the level of D2 receptor mRNA, whereas thyroid hormone, vitamin D3, and steroid hormones (estradiol, testosterone, and corticosterone) had no effect. The transcriptional activity of the rat D2 receptor gene promoter region, which bears a retinoic acid-responsive element, was increased by retinoic acid in transfected C6 glioma cells but not in transfected MMQ prolactin cells. Thyroid hormone and vitamin D3 were not effective in either cell line. Finally, mutations of the putative retinoic acid-responsive element inhibited the transcriptional effect of retinoic acid. These results suggest that retinoic acid is a key factor in regulation of the embryonic onset of the dopaminergic D2 receptor.