The PDZ-binding domain is essential for the dendritic targeting of 5-HT2A serotonin receptors in cortical pyramidal neurons in vitro

Z. Xia, S. J. Hufeisen, John Gray, B. L. Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The 5-HT2A serotonin receptor represents an important molecular target for atypical antipsychotic drugs and for most hallucinogens. In the mammalian cerebral cortex, 5-HT2A receptors are enriched in pyramidal neurons, within which 5-HT2A receptors are preferentially sorted to the apical dendrites. In primary cortical cultures, 5-HT2A receptors are sorted to dendrites and not found in the axons of pyramidal neurons. We identified a sorting motif that mediates the preferential targeting of 5-HT2A receptors to the dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurons in vitro. We constructed green fluorescent protein-tagged 5-HT2A receptors wherein potential sorting motifs were disrupted, and subsequently employed either the Semliki Forest virus or calcium phosphate for the transient expression of recombinant 5-HT2A receptors in cultured cortical pyramidal neurons. Using dual-labeling immunofluorescent confocal microscopy, we quantified the axonal and dendritic sorting patterns of endogenous and recombinant 5-HT2A receptors. We discovered that disruption of the PDZ-binding domain of the 5-HT2A receptor greatly attenuates the dendritic targeting of 5-HT2A receptors without inappropriately sorting 5-HT2A receptors to axons. The PDZ-binding domain is therefore a necessary signal for the preferential targeting of the 5-HT 2A receptor to the dendritic compartment of cultured cortical pyramidal neurons, the first such role ascribed to this protein-protein interaction motif of any G protein-coupled receptor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-920
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Axon
  • Dendrite
  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • GPCR
  • Neuronal polarity
  • Polarized protein sorting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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