Structure of a D2 dopamine receptor-G-protein complex in a lipid membrane

Nature. 2020 Aug;584(7819):125-129. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2379-5. Epub 2020 Jun 11.


The D2 dopamine receptor (DRD2) is a therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease1 and antipsychotic drugs2. DRD2 is activated by the endogenous neurotransmitter dopamine and synthetic agonist drugs such as bromocriptine3, leading to stimulation of Gi and inhibition of adenylyl cyclase. Here we used cryo-electron microscopy to elucidate the structure of an agonist-bound activated DRD2-Gi complex reconstituted into a phospholipid membrane. The extracellular ligand-binding site of DRD2 is remodelled in response to agonist binding, with conformational changes in extracellular loop 2, transmembrane domain 5 (TM5), TM6 and TM7, propagating to opening of the intracellular Gi-binding site. The DRD2-Gi structure represents, to our knowledge, the first experimental model of a G-protein-coupled receptor-G-protein complex embedded in a phospholipid bilayer, which serves as a benchmark to validate the interactions seen in previous detergent-bound structures. The structure also reveals interactions that are unique to the membrane-embedded complex, including helix 8 burial in the inner leaflet, ordered lysine and arginine side chains in the membrane interfacial regions, and lipid anchoring of the G protein in the membrane. Our model of the activated DRD2 will help to inform the design of subtype-selective DRD2 ligands for multiple human central nervous system disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bromocriptine / chemistry
  • Bromocriptine / metabolism
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy*
  • Dopamine / chemistry
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go / chemistry*
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / ultrastructure*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Bromocriptine
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go
  • Dopamine