Author(s): Brain Behav Evol. 86


Dopamine neurotransmission regulates various brain functions, and its regulatory roles are mediated by two families of G protein-coupled receptors: the D1 and D2 receptor families. In mammals, the D1 family comprises two receptor subtypes (D1 and D5), while the D2 family comprises three receptor subtypes (D2, D3 and D4). Phylogenetic analyses of dopamine receptor genes strongly suggest that the common ancestor of Osteichthyes (bony jawed vertebrates) possessed four subtypes in the D1 family and five subtypes in the D2 family. Mammals have secondarily lost almost half of the ancestral dopamine receptor genes, whereas nonmammalian species kept many of them. Although the mammalian situation is an exception among Osteichthyes, the current classification and characterization of dopamine receptors are based on mammalian features, which have led to confusion in the identification of dopamine receptor subtypes in nonmammalian species. Here we begin by reviewing the history of the discovery of dopamine receptors in vertebrates. The recent genome sequencing of coelacanth, gar and elephant shark led to the proposal of a refined scenario of evolution of dopamine receptor genes. We also discuss a current problem of nomenclature of dopamine receptors. Following the official nomenclature of mammalian dopamine receptors from D1 to D5, we propose to name newly identified receptor subtypes from D6 to D9 in order to facilitate the use of an identical name for orthologous genes among different species. To promote a nomenclature change which allows distinguishing the two dopamine receptor families, a nomenclature consortium is needed. This comparative perspective is crucial to correctly interpret data obtained in animal studies on dopamine-related brain disorders, and more fundamentally, to understand the characteristics of dopamine neurotransmission in vertebrates.

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