The trillions of synaptic connections within the human brain are shaped by experience and neuronal activity, both of which underlie synaptic plasticity and ultimately learning and memory. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play key roles in synaptic plasticity by strengthening or weakening synapses and/or shaping dendritic spines. While most studies of synaptic plasticity have focused on cell surface receptors and their downstream signaling partners, emerging data point to a critical new role for the very same receptors to signal from inside the cell. Intracellular receptors have been localized to the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, lysosome, and mitochondria. From these intracellular positions, such receptors may couple to different signaling systems, display unique desensitization patterns, and/or show distinct patterns of subcellular distribution. Intracellular GPCRs can be activated at the cell surface, endocytosed, and transported to an intracellular site or simply activated in situ by de novo ligand synthesis, diffusion of permeable ligands, or active transport of non-permeable ligands. Current findings reinforce the notion that intracellular GPCRs play a dynamic role in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. As new intracellular GPCR roles are defined, the need to selectively tailor agonists and/or antagonists to both intracellular and cell surface receptors may lead to the development of more effective therapeutic tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2162-2172
Number of pages11
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 19 2018


  • 5-HTR
  • ATR
  • ATR
  • CB
  • CB
  • FXS
  • GPCR
  • GPER
  • MT1
  • P2Y1
  • P2Y2
  • mAchR
  • mGlu


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