Altered ratio of D1 and D2 dopamine receptors in mouse striatum is associated with behavioral sensitization to cocaine

Dawn Thompson, Lene Martini, Jennifer L Whistler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Drugs of abuse elevate brain dopamine levels, and, in vivo, chronic drug use is accompanied by a selective decrease in dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) availability in the brain. Such a decrease consequently alters the ratio of D1R:D2R signaling towards the D1R. Despite a plethora of behavioral studies dedicated to the understanding of the role of dopamine in addiction, a molecular mechanism responsible for the downregulation of the D2R, in vivo, in response to chronic drug use has yet to be identified.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: ETHICS STATEMENT: All animal work was approved by the Gallo Center IACUC committee and was performed in our AAALAC approved facility. In this study, we used wild type (WT) and G protein coupled receptor associated sorting protein-1 (GASP-1) knock out (KO) mice to assess molecular changes that accompany cocaine sensitization. Here, we show that downregulation of D2Rs or upregulation of D1Rs is associated with a sensitized locomotor response to an acute injection of cocaine. Furthermore, we demonstrate that disruption of GASP-1, that targets D2Rs for degradation after endocytosis, prevents cocaine-induced downregulation of D2Rs. As a consequence, mice with a GASP-1 disruption show a reduction in the sensitized locomotor response to cocaine.

CONCLUSIONS: Together, our data suggests that changes in the ratio of the D1:D2R could contribute to cocaine-induced behavioral plasticity and demonstrates a role of GASP-1 in regulating both the levels of the D2R and cocaine sensitization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e11038
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cocaine
  • Corpus Striatum
  • Down-Regulation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2


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