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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 2;8(8):e70857. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070857. Print 2013.

GPR88 reveals a discrete function of primary cilia as selective insulators of GPCR cross-talk.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.


A number of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) localize to primary cilia but the functional significance of cilia to GPCR signaling remains incompletely understood. We investigated this question by focusing on the D1 dopamine receptor (D1R) and beta-2 adrenergic receptor (B2AR), closely related catecholamine receptors that signal by stimulating production of the diffusible second messenger cyclic AMP (cAMP) but differ in localization relative to cilia. D1Rs robustly concentrate on cilia of IMCD3 cells, as shown previously in other ciliated cell types, but disrupting cilia did not affect D1R surface expression or ability to mediate a concentration-dependent cAMP response. By developing a FRET-based biosensor suitable for resolving intra- from extra- ciliary cAMP changes, we found that the D1R-mediated cAMP response is not restricted to cilia and extends into the extra-ciliary cytoplasm. Conversely the B2AR, which we show here is effectively excluded from cilia, also generated a cAMP response in both ciliary and extra-ciliary compartments. We identified a distinct signaling effect of primary cilia through investigating GPR88, an orphan GPCR that is co-expressed with the D1R in brain, and which we show here is targeted to cilia similarly to the D1R. In ciliated cells, mutational activation of GPR88 strongly reduced the D1R-mediated cAMP response but did not affect the B2AR-mediated response. In marked contrast, in non-ciliated cells, GPR88 was distributed throughout the plasma membrane and inhibited the B2AR response. These results identify a discrete 'insulating' function of primary cilia in conferring selectivity on integrated catecholamine signaling through lateral segregation of receptors, and suggest a cellular activity of GPR88 that might underlie its effects on dopamine-dependent behaviors.

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