Relative expression of D3 dopamine receptor and alternative splice variant D3nf mRNA in high and low responders to novelty

Laurel M. Pritchard, Aaron D. Logue, Benjamin C. Taylor, Rebecca Ahlbrand, Jeffrey A. Welge, Yang Tang, Frank R Sharp, Neil M. Richtand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Studies in rodents suggest an important role for the D3 dopamine receptor in regulating locomotor responses to spatial novelty and psychostimulants. The D3 receptor alternatively spliced variant D3nf produces a non-dopamine binding protein that may alter D3 receptor localization by dimerizing with the full-length receptor. In the high responder/low responder (HR/LR) model, the locomotor response to an inescapable, novel spatial environment predicts individual differences in the locomotor and rewarding effects of psychostimulants. We hypothesized that individual differences in D3 receptor expression could contribute to individual differences in the locomotor response to novelty in the HR/LR model. To test this hypothesis, we screened rats for response to a novel spatial environment and analyzed brain tissue for mRNA levels of the D3 receptor and D3nf by real-time RT-PCR. The ratios of D3/D3nf mRNA in prefrontal cortex and substantia nigra/ventral tegmentum were significantly lower in HRs than in LRs. There were no differences in relative expression of D3/D3nf between HRs and LRs in nucleus accumbens. These data further support a role for the D3 dopamine receptor in behavioral responses to novelty and, given the established relationship between novelty and psychostimulant responses, suggest that the D3 receptor may be an important target for assessment of drug abuse vulnerability. Additionally, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that alternative splicing may contribute to regulation of D3 dopamine receptor function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-303
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - Oct 16 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative splicing
  • Dopamine receptor
  • Drug dependence
  • Locomotor activity
  • mRNA
  • RT-PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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