A targeted mutation of the D3 dopamine receptor gene is associated with hyperactivity in mice.
While most effects of dopamine in the brain are mediated by the D1 and D2 receptor subtypes, other members of this G protein-coupled receptor family have potentially important functions. D3 receptors belong to the D2-like subclass of dopamine receptors, activation of which inhibits adenylyl cyclase. Using targeted mutagenesis in mouse embryonic stem cells, we have generated mice lacking functional D3 receptors. A premature chain-termination mutation was introduced in the D3 receptor gene after residue Arg-148 in the second intracellular loop of the predicted protein sequence. Binding of the dopamine antagonist [125I]iodosulpride to D3 receptors was absent in mice homozygous for the mutation and greatly reduced in heterozygous mice. Behavioral analysis of mutant mice showed that this mutation is associated with hyperactivity in an exploratory test. Homozygous mice lacking D3 receptors display increased locomotor activity and rearing behavior. Mice heterozygous for the D3 receptor mutation show similar, albeit less pronounced, behavioral alterations. Our findings indicate that D3 receptors play an inhibitory role in the control of certain behaviors.