D4 dopamine receptor high-resolution structures enable the discovery of selective agonists

Science. 2017 Oct 20;358(6361):381-386. doi: 10.1126/science.aan5468.


Dopamine receptors are implicated in the pathogenesis and treatment of nearly every neuropsychiatric disorder. Although thousands of drugs interact with these receptors, our molecular understanding of dopaminergic drug selectivity and design remains clouded. To illuminate dopamine receptor structure, function, and ligand recognition, we determined crystal structures of the D4 dopamine receptor in its inactive state bound to the antipsychotic drug nemonapride, with resolutions up to 1.95 angstroms. These structures suggest a mechanism for the control of constitutive signaling, and their unusually high resolution enabled a structure-based campaign for new agonists of the D4 dopamine receptor. The ability to efficiently exploit structure for specific probe discovery-rapidly moving from elucidating receptor structure to discovering previously unrecognized, selective agonists-testifies to the power of structure-based approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site
  • Antipsychotic Agents / chemistry
  • Benzamides / chemistry
  • Dopamine Agonists / chemistry*
  • Dopamine Agonists / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4 / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4 / ultrastructure
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • DRD4 protein, human
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4
  • nemonapride