Dopaminergic stimulation of local protein synthesis enhances surface expression of GluR1 and synaptic transmission in hippocampal neurons

Neuron. 2005 Mar 3;45(5):765-79. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2005.01.015.


The use-dependent modification of synapses is strongly influenced by dopamine, a transmitter that participates in both the physiology and pathophysiology of animal behavior. In the hippocampus, dopaminergic signaling is thought to play a key role in protein synthesis-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity. The molecular mechanisms by which dopamine influences synaptic function, however, are not well understood. Using a GFP-based reporter, as well as a small-molecule reporter of endogenous protein synthesis, we show that dopamine D1/D5 receptor activation stimulates local protein synthesis in the dendrites of hippocampal neurons. We also identify the GluR1 subunit of AMPA receptors as one protein upregulated by dopamine receptor activation, with increased incorporation of surface GluR1 at synaptic sites. The insertion of new GluRs is accompanied by an increase in the frequency of miniature synaptic events. Together, these data suggest a local protein synthesis-dependent activation of previously silent synapses as a result of dopamine receptor stimulation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, AMPA / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, AMPA / genetics
  • Receptors, Dopamine / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Dopamine / genetics
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1