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Keywords:

  • Caenorhabditis elegans;
  • cyclic AMP;
  • D2-like receptor;
  • dopamine receptor;
  • dopaminergic neuron

Abstract

The neurotransmitter dopamine plays an important role in the regulation of behavior in both vertebrates and invertebrates. In mammals, dopamine binds and activates two classes of dopamine receptors, D1-like and D2-like receptors. However, D2-like dopamine receptors in Caenorhabditis elegans have not yet been characterized. We have cloned a cDNA encoding a putative C. elegans D2-like dopamine receptor. The deduced amino acid sequence of the cloned cDNA shows higher sequence similarities to vertebrate D2-like dopamine receptors than to D1-like receptors. Two splice variants that differ in the length of their predicted third intracellular loops were identified. The receptor heterologously expressed in cultured cells showed high affinity binding to [125I]iodo-lysergic acid diethylamide. Dopamine showed the highest affinity for this receptor among several amine neurotransmitters tested. Activation of the heterologously expressed receptor led to the inhibition of cyclic AMP production, confirming that this receptor has the functional property of a D2-like receptor. We have also analyzed the expression pattern of this receptor and found that the receptor is expressed in several neurons including all the dopaminergic neurons in C. elegans.