Cooperative activation of dopamine D1 and D2 receptors increases spike firing of nucleus accumbens neurons via G-protein betagamma subunits

J Neurosci. 2003 Jun 15;23(12):5079-87. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.23-12-05079.2003.


Dopamine in the nucleus accumbens modulates both motivational and addictive behaviors. Dopamine D1 and D2 receptors are generally considered to exert opposite effects at the cellular level, but many behavioral studies find an apparent cooperative effect of D1 and D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens. Here, we show that a dopamine-induced enhancement of spike firing in nucleus accumbens neurons in brain slices required both D1 and D2 receptors. One intracellular mechanism that might underlie cooperativity of D1 and D2 receptors is activation of specific subtypes of adenylyl cyclases by G-protein betagamma subunits (Gbetagamma) released from the Gi/o-linked D2 receptor in combination with Galpha(s)-like subunits from the D1 receptor. In this regard, dopaminergic enhancement of spike firing was prevented by inhibitors of protein kinase A or Gbetagamma. Furthermore, intracellular perfusion with Gbetagamma enabled D1 receptor activation but not D2 receptor activation to enhance spike firing. Finally, our data suggest that these pathways may increase spike firing by inhibition of a slow A-type potassium current. These results provide evidence for a novel cellular mechanism through which cooperative action of D1 and D2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens could mediate dopamine-dependent behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / cytology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism*


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Potassium Channels
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Dopamine