Gpr88 Deletion Impacts Motivational Control Without Overt Disruptions to Striatal Dopamine

Daisy L. Spark, Michela H. Vermeulen, Rocío A. de la Fuente Gonzalez, Cassandra J. Hatzipantelis, Patricia Rueda, Tara Sepehrizadeh, Michael De Veer, Clotilde Mannoury la Cour, Alex Fornito, Monica Langiu, Gregory D. Stewart, Jess Nithianantharajah, Christopher J. Langmead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Disrupted motivational control is a common—but poorly treated—feature of psychiatric disorders, arising via aberrant mesolimbic dopaminergic signaling. GPR88 is an orphan G protein–coupled receptor that is highly expressed in the striatum and therefore well placed to modulate disrupted signaling. While the phenotype of Gpr88 knockout mice suggests a role in motivational pathways, it is unclear whether GPR88 is involved in reward valuation and/or effort-based decision making in a sex-dependent manner and whether this involves altered dopamine function. 

Methods: In male and female Gpr88 knockout mice, we used touchscreen-based progressive ratio, with and without reward devaluation, and effort-related choice tasks to assess motivation and cost/benefit decision making, respectively. To explore whether these motivational behaviors were related to alterations in the striatal dopamine system, we quantified expression of dopamine-related genes and/or proteins and used [18F]DOPA positron emission tomography and GTPγ[35S] binding to assess presynaptic and postsynaptic dopamine function, respectively. 

Results: We showed that male and female Gpr88 knockout mice displayed greater motivational drive than wild-type mice, which was maintained following reward devaluation. Furthermore, we showed that cost/benefit decision making was impaired in male, but not female, Gpr88 knockout mice. Surprisingly, we found that Gpr88 deletion had no effect on striatal dopamine by any of the measures assessed. 

Conclusions: Our results highlight that GPR88 regulates motivational control but that disruption of such behaviors following Gpr88 deletion occurs independently of gross perturbations to striatal dopamine at a gene, protein, or functional level. This work provides further insights into GPR88 as a drug target for motivational disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Global Open Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Nov 2022


  • Dopamine
  • GPR88
  • Motivation
  • Orphan G protein–coupled receptor
  • Striatum
  • Touchscreen

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