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FEBS Lett. 2001 Oct 19;507(1):109-13.

Agonist-independent and -dependent oligomerization of dopamine D(2) receptors by fusion to fluorescent proteins.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Centre de Recherche Pierre Fabre, 17 avenue Jean Moulin, 81106 Cedex, Castres, France.


Oligomerization of the short (D(2S)) and long (D(2L)) isoforms of the dopamine D(2) receptor was explored in transfected Cos-7 cells by their C-terminal fusion to either an enhanced cyan or enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (ECFP or EYFP) and the fluorescent fusion protein interaction was monitored by a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay. The pharmacological properties of the fluorescent fusion proteins, as measured by both displacement of [(3)H]nemonapride binding and agonist-mediated stimulation of [(35)S]GTPgammaS binding upon co-expression with a G(alphao)Cys(351)Ile protein, were not different from the respective wild-type D(2S) and D(2L) receptors. Co-expression of D2S:ECFP+D2S:EYFP in a 1:1 ratio and D2L:ECFP+D2L:EYFP in a 27:1 ratio resulted, respectively, in an increase of 26% and 16% in the EYFP-specific fluorescent signal. These data are consistent with a close proximity of both D(2S) and D(2L) receptor pairs of fluorescent fusion proteins in the absence of ligand. The agonist-independent D(2S) receptor oligomerization could be attenuated by co-expression with either a wild-type, non-fluorescent D(2S) or D(2L) receptor subtype, but not with a distinct beta(2)-adrenoceptor. Incubation with the agonist (-)-norpropylapomorphine dose-dependently (EC(50): 0.23+/-0.06 nM) increased the FRET signal for the co-expression of D2S:ECFP and D2S:EYFP, in support of agonist-dependent D(2S) receptor oligomerization. In conclusion, our data strongly suggest the occurrence of dopamine D(2) receptor oligomers in intact Cos-7 cells.

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