The role of the dopamine D1 receptor in social cognition: Studies using a novel genetic rat model

Judith R. Homberg*, Jocelien D A Olivier, Marie VandenBroeke, Jiun Youn, Arabella K. Ellenbroek, Peter Karel, Ling Shan, Ruben Van Boxtel, Sharon Ooms, Monique Balemans, Jacqueline Langedijk, Mareike Muller, Gert Vriend, Alexander R. Cools, Edwin Cuppen, Bart A. Ellenbroek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Social cognitionisan endophenotype that is impaired in schizophrenia and several other (comorbid) psychiatric disorders. One of the modulators of social cognition is dopamine, but its role is not clear. The effects of dopamine are mediated through dopamine receptors, including the dopamine D1 receptor (Drd1). Because current Drd1 receptor agonists are not Drd1 selective, pharmacological tools are not sufficient to delineate the role of the Drd1. Here, we describe a novel rat model with a genetic mutation in Drd1 in which we measured basic behavioural phenotypes and social cognition. The I116S mutation was predicted to render the receptor less stable. In line with this computational prediction, this Drd1 mutation led to a decreased transmembrane insertion of Drd1, whereas Drd1 expression, as measured by Drd1 mRNA levels, remained unaffected. Owing to decreased transmembrane Drd1 insertion, the mutant rats displayed normal basic motoric and neurological parameters, as well as locomotor activity and anxiety-like behaviour. However, measures of social cognition like social interaction, scent marking, pup ultrasonic vocalizations and sociability, were strongly reduced in the mutant rats. This profile of the Drd1 mutant rat offers the field of neuroscience a novel genetic rat model to study a series of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, autism, depression, bipolar disorder and drug addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1158
Number of pages12
JournalDisease Models & Mechanisms
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Characterization
  • Dopamine D1 receptor
  • Mutant rat
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social cognition


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