Antisense strategies in dopamine receptor pharmacology

Life Sci. 1997;60(7):433-55. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(96)00566-8.


Recent advances in molecular biology have provided pharmacologists the opportunity of developing an entirely new type of agent for studying and treating a variety of biological disorders. These agents, termed antisense oligodeoxynucleotides, have as their target the messenger RNAs encoding specific proteins. They act by binding to selected portions of these mRNAs through complimentary interactions and thereby prevent the synthesis of these proteins. These novel pharmacological tools have the promise of being easier to design and being more selective and predictable in their actions. In addition, insofar as agents targeted to receptors for neurotransmitters are concerned, unlike the classical pharmacological agents, these new compounds may not lead to the upregulation of the very receptors the drugs are designed to inhibit. The present review summarizes briefly studies on the effect of oligodeoxynucleotides antisense to the mRNAs encoding the various subtypes of the dopamine receptor. The studies show that oligodeoxynucleotides antisense to the D2 dopamine receptor when intracerebroventricularly into brains of rodents are rapidly taken up into the brain tissue, distributed to brain cells, and produce effects characteristic of highly selective D2 dopamine antagonists. The compounds also produced specific reductions in the levels of D2 dopamine receptor mRNA and D2 dopamine receptors. Similarly, injecting an antisense oligodeoxynucleotide targeted to the D1 dopamine receptor mRNA produces effects characteristic of D1 dopamine receptor antagonists. Other studies using these agents has produced evidence that there is a small pool of receptors that turn over very rapidly and which constitute the functional pool of these receptors. The evidence suggests further that antisense oligodeoxynucleotides inhibit the synthesis of this small functional pool of dopamine receptors, thereby providing an explanation of why there is often a discordance between changes in dopaminergic function and changes in the levels of dopamine receptors. Studies of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides targeted to the other subtypes of dopamine receptor may help reveal the biological roles that these and other newly discovered subtypes of neurotransmitter receptors have. They may also provide an entirely new and potentially more selective therapeutic regimen for altering the functions of these receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Dopamine / classification
  • Receptors, Dopamine / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Dopamine / genetics


  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Dopamine