Genetically determined interaction between the dopamine transporter and the D2 receptor on prefronto-striatal activity and volume in humans

Alessandro Bertolino, Leonardo Fazio, Annabella Di Giorgio, Giuseppe Blasi, Raffaella Romano, Paolo Taurisano, Grazia Caforio, Lorenzo Sinibaldi, Gianluca Ursini, Teresa Popolizio, Emanuele Tirotta, Audrey Papp, Bruno Dallapiccola, Emiliana Borrelli, Wolfgang Sadee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dopamine modulation of neuronal activity during memory tasks identifies a nonlinear inverted-U shaped function. Both the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine D2 receptors (encoded by DRD2) critically regulate dopamine signaling in the striatum and in prefrontal cortex during memory. Moreover, in vitro studies have demonstrated that DAT and D2 proteins reciprocally regulate each other presynaptically. Therefore, we have evaluated the genetic interaction between a DRD2 polymorphism (rs1076560) causing reduced presynaptic D2 receptor expression and the DAT 3′-VNTR variant (affecting DAT expression) in a large sample of healthy subjects undergoing blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD)-functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during memory tasks and structural MRI. Results indicated a significant DRD2/DAT interaction in prefrontal cortex and striatum BOLD activity during both working memory and encoding of recognition memory. The differential effect on BOLD activity of the DAT variant was mostly manifest in the context of the DRD2 allele associated with lower presynaptic expression. Similar results were also evident for gray matter volume in caudate. These interactions describe a nonlinear relationship between compound genotypes and brain activity or gray matter volume. Complementary data from striatal protein extracts from wild-type and D2 knock-out animals (D2R-/-) indicate that DAT and D2 proteins interact in vivo. Together, our results demonstrate that the interaction between genetic variants in DRD2 and DAT critically modulates the nonlinear relationship between dopamine and neuronal activity during memory processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1224-1234
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 28 2009


  • D
  • Dopamine
  • fMRI
  • Receptor
  • Recognition memory
  • Transport
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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