Receptor, Ligand and Transducer Contributions to Dopamine D2 Receptor Functional Selectivity

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 30;10(10):e0141637. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141637. eCollection 2015.


Functional selectivity (or biased agonism) is a property exhibited by some G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) ligands, which results in the modulation of a subset of a receptor's signaling capabilities and more precise control over complex biological processes. The dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) exhibits pleiotropic responses to the biogenic amine dopamine (DA) to mediate complex central nervous system functions through activation of G proteins and β-arrestins. D2R is a prominent therapeutic target for psychological and neurological disorders in which DA biology is dysregulated and targeting D2R with functionally selective drugs could provide a means by which pharmacotherapies could be developed. However, factors that determine GPCR functional selectivity in vivo may be multiple with receptors, ligands and transducers contributing to the process. We have recently described a mutagenesis approach to engineer biased D2R mutants in which G protein-dependent ([Gprot]D2R) and β-arrestin-dependent signaling ([βarr]D2R) were successfully separated (Peterson, et al. PNAS, 2015). Here, permutations of these mutants were used to identify critical determinants of the D2R signaling complex that impart signaling bias in response to the natural or synthetic ligands. Critical residues identified in generating [Gprot]D2R and [βarr]D2R conferred control of partial agonism at G protein and/or β-arrestin activity. Another set of mutations that result in G protein bias was identified that demonstrated that full agonists can impart unique activation patterns, and provided further credence to the concept of ligand texture. Finally, the contributions and interplay between different transducers indicated that G proteins are not aberrantly activated, and that receptor kinase and β-arrestin activities are inextricably linked. These data provide a thorough elucidation of the feasibility and malleability of D2R functional selectivity and point to means by which novel in vivo therapies could be modeled.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrestins / chemistry
  • Arrestins / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutagenesis
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / chemistry
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • beta-Arrestins


  • Arrestins
  • DRD2 protein, human
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • beta-Arrestins
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Dopamine