Phosphodiesterase (PDE) 7B, a cAMP-specific PDE which is dominantly expressed in striatum, is expected to be involved in dopaminergic signaling in striatal neurons. Here we show, for the first time, the involvement of the dopaminergic signaling pathway in transcriptional activation of rat PDE7B in primary striatal culture. RT-PCR analysis revealed that dopamine, D1 agonist, forskolin and 8-Br-cAMP stimulation potentiated PDE7B transcription in striatal neurons, while D2 agonist failed to activate the PDE7B transcription. Pre-treatment with D1 antagonist abolished the dopamine- or D1 agonist-induced transcriptional activation of PDE7B. The activation of PDE7B transcription by these stimulators was completely ablated by pre-treatment of the cells with a cAMP-dependent protein kinase inhibitor, H-89. RT-PCR using splice variant-specific primers revealed that transcription of PDE7B1, but not of other splice variants, was activated by D1 agonist. We determined the putative transcription start site of PDE7B1, a brain-specific splice variant of PDE7B, by 5'-RACE and identified a promoter region of PDE7B1. Sequence analysis of the PDE7B1 promoter revealed the presence of a canonical cAMP-response element at 166 bp upstream of the putative transcription start site. The cAMP-responsiveness of the PDE7B1 promoter was demonstrated by functional promoter analysis using the luciferase reporter system. Deletion and mutation of the cAMP-response element site in the PDE7B1 promoter abolished the forskolin-induced activation of the PDE7B1 promoter activity. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed the binding of cAMP-response element binding protein to the PDE7B1 promoter. These data demonstrate the dopamine D1 receptor-mediated transcriptional activation of PDE7B through the cAMP/cAMP-dependent protein kinase/cAMP-response element binding protein pathway in striatal neurons.