Influence of the antipsychotic drug pipamperone on the expression of the dopamine D4 receptor.

Research paper by Kathleen K Van Craenenbroeck, Evelien E Gellynck, Béatrice B Lintermans, Josée E JE Leysen, Hubert H M HH Van Tol, Guy G Haegeman, Peter P Vanhoenacker

Indexed on: 19 Sep '06Published on: 19 Sep '06Published in: Life Sciences


The dopamine D4 receptor is a G protein-coupled receptor that binds with high affinity various antipsychotics. The receptor may be involved in attention/cognition, and in genetic studies a polymorphic repeat sequence in its coding sequence has been associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. We developed an inducible episomal expression system based on the reverse tetracycline transactivator and Epstein-Barr viral sequences. In HEK293rtTA cells expressing the dopamine D4 receptor from this episomal expression vector, addition of doxycycline in combination with sodium butyrate and trichostatin A induces high levels of receptor expression, resulting in 1970 +/- 20 fmol/mg membrane protein. Addition of the dopamine D4 receptor and serotonin 5-HT2A receptor antagonist pipamperone to these cells further increased the expression of the dopamine receptor, reaching 3800 +/- 60 fmol/mg membrane protein. This up-regulation was not restricted to the dopamine D4 receptor but was also found for the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor. We further provide evidence that the increase in receptor expression is not due to increased mRNA synthesis. As pipamperone could rescue the expression of a folding mutant of the dopamine D4 receptor (M345), we propose that pipamperone acts as a pharmacological chaperone for correct receptor folding thereby resulting in an increased dopamine D4 receptor expression. This study describes a strong and inducible expression system for proteins, difficult to express in other heterologous expression systems. This study also demonstrates that pipamperone, an antipsychotic, acts as a pharmacological chaperone and by doing so, increases the expression level of the dopamine D4 receptor. The fact that ligands can also act as pharmacological chaperones is a fairly new additional element in the regulation of receptor expression levels with potential great impact in drug treatment.