In order to evaluate the baculovirus expression system as a means for high-yield production of homogeneous D2S receptor, we have expressed various D2S receptor constructs in two Spodoptera frugiperda cell lines, a Trichoplusia ni and a Mammestra brassicae cell line. To improve expression yield, the environment of the polyhedrin gene translational initiation site was retained by fusing the first 12 codons of the polyhedrin gene to the 5'-end of the D2S receptor coding sequence. The pharmacological profile of the expressed D2S receptor was similar to that reported for neuronal D2 receptors. Sf9 and Tn cells were best suited for overexpression, yielding about 2 x 10(6) and 4 x 10(6) receptors/cell, respectively, corresponding to 6 pmol/mg of cell protein in Sf9 cells and 10 pmol/mg of cell protein in Tn cells. We have developed a D2 receptor-specific anti-peptide antibody to study glycosylation, palmitoylation, and localization of the heterologously produced receptor. Immunoprecipitation of digitonin/cholate-solubilized receptor from control and tunicamycin-treated Sf9, Tn, and Mb cells revealed an apparent molecular mass of 47-48 kDa for the glycosylated receptor and of 39-40 kDa for the unglycosylated receptor. Although pulse-chase studies showed that glycosylation occurred rapidly and efficiently, the glycosylated receptor only constituted a small fraction of the overall produced receptor protein, which was mainly located intracellularly. The glycosylation of the receptor was of the high-mannose-type in contrast to the complex-type glycosylation found in native tissue. The glycosylated D2S receptor was palmitoylated. Glycosylation, however, was not a prerequisite for palmitoylation which was insensitive to tunicamycin, brefeldin A, and monensin. NH2-terminal addition of the signal sequence of prepromelittin to the D2S receptor increased expression levels 2-3-fold and significantly enhanced membrane insertion and processing, resulting in increased targeting of the synthesized receptor to the plasma membrane.