Calcium-dependent networks in dopamine-glutamate interaction: the role of postsynaptic scaffolding proteins

Mol Neurobiol. 2012 Oct;46(2):275-96. doi: 10.1007/s12035-012-8293-6. Epub 2012 Jul 5.


Dopamine and glutamate systems are both involved in cognitive, behavioral, and motor processes. Dysfunction of dopamine-glutamate interplay has been suggested in several psychotic diseases, above all in schizophrenia, for which there exists a need for novel medications. Intracellular calcium-dependent transduction pathways are key determinants of dopamine-glutamate interactions, which take place mainly, albeit not exclusively, in the postsynaptic density (PSD), a highly specialized postsynaptic ultrastructure. Stimulation of dopamine and glutamate receptors modulates the gene expression and the function of specific PSD proteins, the "scaffolding" proteins (Homer, Shank, and PSD95), belonging to a complex Ca(2+)-regulated network that integrates and converges dopamine and glutamate signaling to appropriate nuclear targets. Dysfunction of scaffolding proteins leads to severe impairment of Ca(2+)-dependent signaling, which may underlie the dopamine-glutamate aberrations putatively implicated in the pathogenesis of psychotic disorders. Antipsychotic therapy has been demonstrated to directly and indirectly affect the neuronal Ca(2+)-dependent pathways through the modulation of PSD scaffolding proteins, such as Homer, therefore influencing both dopaminergic and glutamatergic functions and enforcing Ca(2+)-mediated long-term synaptic changes. In this review, we will discuss the role of PSD scaffolding proteins in routing Ca(2+)-dependent signals to the nucleus. In particular, we will address the implication of PSD scaffolding proteins in the intracellular connections between dopamine and glutamate pathways, which involve both Ca(2+)-dependent and Ca(2+)-independent mechanisms. Finally, we will discuss how new strategies for the treatment of psychosis aim at developing antipsychotics that may impact both glutamate and dopamine signaling, and what should be the possible role of PSD scaffolding proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • postsynaptic density proteins
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Calcium
  • Dopamine