Cell specific photoswitchable agonist for reversible control of endogenous dopamine receptors

Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 6;12(1):4775. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25003-w.


Dopamine controls diverse behaviors and their dysregulation contributes to many disorders. Our ability to understand and manipulate the function of dopamine is limited by the heterogenous nature of dopaminergic projections, the diversity of neurons that are regulated by dopamine, the varying distribution of the five dopamine receptors (DARs), and the complex dynamics of dopamine release. In order to improve our ability to specifically modulate distinct DARs, here we develop a photo-pharmacological strategy using a Membrane anchored Photoswitchable orthogonal remotely tethered agonist for the Dopamine receptor (MP-D). Our design selectively targets D1R/D5R receptor subtypes, most potently D1R (MP-D1ago), as shown in HEK293T cells. In vivo, we targeted dorsal striatal medium spiny neurons where the photo-activation of MP-D1ago increased movement initiation, although further work is required to assess the effects of MP-D1ago on neuronal function. Our method combines ligand and cell type-specificity with temporally precise and reversible activation of D1R to control specific aspects of movement. Our results provide a template for analyzing dopamine receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dopamine / chemistry
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Dopamine / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / chemistry
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Dopamine