• Attenuation of Oxytocin and Serotonin 2A Receptor Signaling through Novel Heteroreceptor Formation.

Attenuation of Oxytocin and Serotonin 2A Receptor Signaling through Novel Heteroreceptor Formation.

ACS chemical neuroscience (2019-05-01)
Barbara Chruścicka, Shauna E Wallace Fitzsimons, Dasiel O Borroto-Escuela, Clémentine Druelle, Panagiota Stamou, Kenneth Nally, Timothy G Dinan, John F Cryan, Kjell Fuxe, Harriët Schellekens

The oxytocin receptor (OTR) and the 5-hydroxytryptamine 2A receptor (5-HTR2A) are expressed in similar brain regions modulating central pathways critical for social and cognition-related behaviors. Signaling crosstalk between their endogenous ligands, oxytocin (OT) and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), highlights the complex interplay between these two neurotransmitter systems and may be indicative of the formation of heteroreceptor complexes with subsequent downstream signaling changes. In this study, we assess the possible formation of OTR-5HTR2A heteromers in living cells and the functional downstream consequences of this receptor-receptor interaction. First, we demonstrated the existence of a physical interaction between the OTR and 5-HTR2Ain vitro, using a flow cytometry-based FRET approach and confocal microscopy. Furthermore, we investigated the formation of this specific heteroreceptor complex ex vivo in the brain sections using the Proximity Ligation Assay (PLA). The OTR-5HTR2A heteroreceptor complexes were identified in limbic regions (including hippocampus, cingulate cortex, and nucleus accumbens), key regions associated with cognition and social-related behaviors. Next, functional cellular-based assays to assess the OTR-5HTR2A downstream signaling crosstalk showed a reduction in potency and efficacy of OT and OTR synthetic agonists, carbetocin and WAY267464, on OTR-mediated Gαq signaling. Similarly, the activation of 5-HTR2A by the endogenous agonist, 5-HT, also revealed attenuation in Gαq-mediated signaling. Finally, altered receptor trafficking within the cell was demonstrated, indicative of cotrafficking of the OTR/5-HTR2A pair. Overall, these results constitute a novel mechanism of specific interaction between the OT and 5-HT neurotransmitters via OTR-5HTR2A heteroreceptor formation and provide potential new therapeutic strategies in the treatment of social and cognition-related diseases.