RGS9-2 rescues dopamine D2 receptor levels and signaling in DYT1 dystonia mouse models

Paola Bonsi, Giulia Ponterio, Valentina Vanni, Annalisa Tassone, Giuseppe Sciamanna, Sara Migliarini, Giuseppina Martella, Maria Meringolo, Benjamin Dehay, Evelyne Doudnikoff, Venetia Zachariou, Rose E. Goodchild, Nicola B. Mercuri, Marcello D'Amelio, Massimo Pasqualetti, Erwan Bezard, Antonio Pisani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Dopamine D2 receptor signaling is central for striatal function and movement, while abnormal activity is associated with neurological disorders including the severe early-onset DYT1 dystonia. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that regulate D2 receptor signaling in health and disease remain poorly understood. Here, we identify a reduced D2 receptor binding, paralleled by an abrupt reduction in receptor protein level, in the striatum of juvenile Dyt1 mice. This occurs through increased lysosomal degradation, controlled by competition between β-arrestin 2 and D2 receptor binding proteins. Accordingly, we found lower levels of striatal RGS9-2 and spinophilin. Further, we show that genetic depletion of RGS9-2 mimics the D2 receptor loss of DYT1 dystonia striatum, whereas RGS9-2 overexpression rescues both receptor levels and electrophysiological responses in Dyt1 striatal neurons. This work uncovers the molecular mechanism underlying D2 receptor downregulation in Dyt1 mice and in turn explains why dopaminergic drugs lack efficacy in DYT1 patients despite significant evidence for striatal D2 receptor dysfunction. Our data also open up novel avenues for disease-modifying therapeutics to this incurable neurological disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9283
JournalEMBO Molecular Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • beta-arrestin
  • lysosomal degradation
  • striatum


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