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Endocrinology. 2008 Apr;149(4):1470-9. Epub 2007 Dec 20.

Dopamine inhibits basal prolactin release in pituitary lactotrophs through pertussis toxin-sensitive and -insensitive signaling pathways.

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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 49 Convent Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-4510, USA.


Dopamine D2 receptors signal through the pertussis toxin (PTX)-sensitive G(i/o) and PTX-insensitive G(z) proteins, as well as through a G protein-independent, beta-arrestin/glycogen synthase kinase-3-dependent pathway. Activation of these receptors in pituitary lactotrophs leads to inhibition of prolactin (PRL) release. It has been suggested that this inhibition occurs through the G(i/o)-alpha protein-mediated inhibition of cAMP production and/or G(i/o)-betagamma dimer-mediated activation of inward rectifier K(+) channels and inhibition of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels. Here we show that the dopamine agonist-induced inhibition of spontaneous Ca(2+) influx and release of prestored PRL was preserved when cAMP levels were elevated by forskolin treatment. We further observed that dopamine agonists inhibited both spontaneous and depolarization-induced Ca(2+) influx in untreated but not in PTX-treated cells. This inhibition was also observed in cells with blocked inward rectifier K(+) channels, suggesting that the dopamine effect on voltage-gated Ca(2+) channel gating is sufficient to inhibit spontaneous Ca(2+) influx. However, agonist-induced inhibition of PRL release was only partially relieved in PTX-treated cells, indicating that dopamine receptors also inhibit exocytosis downstream of voltage-gated Ca(2+) influx. The PTX-insensitive step in agonist-induced inhibition of PRL release was not affected by the addition of wortmannin, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and lithium, an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase-3, but was attenuated in the presence of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, which inhibits G(z) signaling pathway in a protein kinase C-dependent manner. Thus, dopamine inhibits basal PRL release by blocking voltage-gated Ca(2+) influx through the PTX-sensitive signaling pathway and by desensitizing Ca(2+) secretion coupling through the PTX-insensitive and protein kinase C-sensitive signaling pathway.

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