Differential subcellular distribution of rat brain dopamine receptors and subtype-specific redistribution induced by cocaine

Pamela J. Voulalas, John Schetz, Ashiwel S. Undieh

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26 Scopus citations


We investigated the subcellular distribution of dopamine D1, D2 and D5 receptor subtypes in rat frontal cortex, and examined whether psychostimulant-induced elevation of synaptic dopamine could alter the receptor distribution. Differential detergent solubilization and density gradient centrifugation were used to separate various subcellular fractions, followed by semi-quantitative determination of the relative abundance of specific receptor proteins in each fraction. D1 receptors were predominantly localized to detergent-resistant membranes, and a portion of these receptors also floated on sucrose gradients. These properties are characteristic of proteins found in lipid rafts and caveolae. D2 receptors exhibited variable distribution between cytoplasmic, detergent-soluble and detergent-resistant membrane fractions, yet were not present in buoyant membranes. Most D5 receptor immunoreactivity was distributed into the cytoplasmic fraction, failing to sediment at forces up to 300,000g, while the remainder was localized to detergent-soluble membranes in cortex. D5 receptors were undetectable in detergent-resistant fractions or raft-like subdomains. Following daily cocaine administration for seven days, a significant portion of D1 receptors translocated from detergent-resistant membranes to detergent-soluble membranes and the cytoplasmic fraction. The distributions of D5 and D2 receptor subtypes were not significantly altered by cocaine treatment. These data imply that D5 receptors are predominantly cytoplasmic, D2 receptors are diffusely distributed within the cell, whereas D1 receptors are mostly localized to lipid rafts within the rat frontal cortex. Dopamine receptor subtype localization is susceptible to modulation by pharmacological manipulations that elevate synaptic dopamine, however the functional implications of such drug-induced receptor warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-654
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Cellular subdomains
  • Cocaine
  • D dopamine receptor
  • D dopamine receptor
  • D dopamine receptor
  • Lipid rafts
  • Receptor translocation


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