Alternative splicing directs the expression of two D2 dopamine receptor isoforms

Nature. 1989 Dec;342(6252):923-6. doi: 10.1038/342923a0.


Dopamine receptors are classified into D1 and D2 subtypes on the basis of their pharmacological properties and the intracellular responses they mediate. The cerebral D2 dopamine receptor is the target of drugs used to alleviate the main symptoms of schizophrenia. Although it is considered to be a single molecular entity, there is evidence that multiple D2-receptor subtypes exist. A complementary DNA encoding a D2 receptor has recently been cloned and the deduced 415-amino-acid sequence indicates that it belongs to the large superfamily of receptors coupled to G proteins, and that its topology consists of seven transmembrane domains. In this family, the genes are frequently without introns and each is believed to encode a unique polypeptide product. Here we show that the gene for the D2 receptor produces two receptor isoforms by alternative messenger RNA splicing, providing a route to receptor diversity in this family. One isoform corresponds to the D2(415) receptor, but the second contains an additional sequence encoding a 29-amino-acid fragment, defining a novel D2(444) receptor isoform. Expression of the two isoforms is tissue-specific, and both are regulated by guanyl nucleotides. As the extra sequence is located within a putative cytoplasmic loop that binds to G proteins, the two isoforms might interact with different G proteins and thereby initiate distinct intracellular signals.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes*
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotide Probes / chemical synthesis
  • Organ Specificity
  • RNA Splicing*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2


  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2