Publication — IRIC
Bivalent ligands promote endosomal trafficking of the dopamine D3 receptor-neurotensin receptor 1 heterodimer.
Bivalent ligands are composed of two pharmacophores connected by a spacer of variable size. These ligands are able to simultaneously recognize two binding sites, for example in a G protein-coupled receptor heterodimer, resulting in enhanced binding affinity. Taking advantage of previously described heterobivalent dopamine-neurotensin receptor ligands, we demonstrate specific interactions between dopamine D3 (D3R) and neurotensin receptor 1 (NTSR1), two receptors with expression in overlapping brain areas that are associated with neuropsychiatric diseases and addiction. Bivalent ligand binding to D3R-NTSR1 dimers results in picomolar binding affinity and high selectivity compared to the binding to monomeric receptors. Specificity of the ligands for the D3R-NTSR1 receptor pair over D2R-NTSR1 dimers can be achieved by a careful choice of the linker length. Bivalent ligands enhance and stabilize the receptor-receptor interaction leading to NTSR1-controlled internalization of D3R into endosomes via recruitment of β-arrestin, highlighting a potential mechanism for dimer-specific receptor trafficking and signalling.