Marc G. Caron

Marc G. Caron

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology

External Address: 
CARL Building Room 487, Durham, NC 27710
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Box 3287, Durham, NC 27710


Studies of the mechanisms of action and regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters at the cellular and molecular levels constitute the main goals our of research activities. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) mediate the actions of signaling molecules from unicellular organisms to man. We have used adrenergic and dopamine receptors to characterize the structure/function and regulation mechanisms of these prototypes of G protein-coupled receptors. Another approach has been to characterize the nature of neurotransmitter transporters for dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters in an attempt to understand their function in normal and pathological neurotransmission. Another goal of our laboratory is to define the genes and pathways involved in the reinforcing properties of drugs of abuse using both forward and reverse genetic approaches. Our laboratory uses biochemical, molecular biology and gene targeting approaches to examine these questions.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Miami 1973

Selected Grants

Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Preceptor). 2020 to 2025

Neurobiology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2019 to 2024

Functional and Mechanistic Dissection of GPCR Endosomal Signaling Dynamics awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Sponsor). 2021 to 2024

Exploiting Biased Agonism at the Ghrelin Receptor (GHSR 1a) for Opioid Addiction awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2023

Mechanistic studies of Mas receptor activation and its role in aortic aneurysm formation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2017 to 2022

Duke Training Grant in Nephrology awarded by National Institutes of Health (Preceptor). 1995 to 2022

Multidisciplinary Heart and Vascular Diseases awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1975 to 2022

Secreted Factors for Zebrafish Spinal Cord Regeneration awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2022

Managing L-­DOPA Induced Dyskinesias by Targeting Dopamine D1 Receptor Biased Signaling awarded by Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2022


Lefkowitz, R. J., et al. Biochemical mechanisms for regulation of β adrenergic receptors by β adrenergic agonists. Vol. No. 402, 1977, pp. 502–06.

Caron, M. G., and R. R. Gainetdinov. “Role of Dopamine Transporters in Neuronal Homeostasis.” Dopamine Handbook, 2010. Scopus, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373035.003.0007. Full Text

Laakso, A., and M. G. Caron. “Dopamine Receptors.” Primer on the Autonomic Nervous System: Second Edition, 2004, pp. 39–43. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-012589762-4/50010-4. Full Text

Favier, Mathieu, et al. “Cholinergic dysfunction in the dorsal striatum promotes habit formation and maladaptive eating.J Clin Invest, vol. 130, no. 12, Dec. 2020, pp. 6616–30. Pubmed, doi:10.1172/JCI138532. Full Text

Porter-Stransky, Kirsten A., et al. “Loss of β-arrestin2 in D2 cells alters neuronal excitability in the nucleus accumbens and behavioral responses to psychostimulants and opioids.Addict Biol, vol. 25, no. 6, Nov. 2020, p. e12823. Pubmed, doi:10.1111/adb.12823. Full Text

Slosky, Lauren M., et al. “β-Arrestin-Biased Allosteric Modulator of NTSR1 Selectively Attenuates Addictive Behaviors.Cell, vol. 181, no. 6, June 2020, pp. 1364-1379.e14. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2020.04.053. Full Text

Li, Yan-Chun, et al. “Deletion of Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3β in D2 Receptor-Positive Neurons Ameliorates Cognitive Impairment via NMDA Receptor-Dependent Synaptic Plasticity.Biol Psychiatry, vol. 87, no. 8, Apr. 2020, pp. 745–55. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.10.025. Full Text

Boone, Peter G., et al. “A cancer rainbow mouse for visualizing the functional genomics of oncogenic clonal expansion.Nat Commun, vol. 10, no. 1, Dec. 2019, p. 5490. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13330-y. Full Text

Jacobsen, Jacob P. R., et al. “Slow-release delivery enhances the pharmacological properties of oral 5-hydroxytryptophan: mouse proof-of-concept.Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 44, no. 12, Nov. 2019, pp. 2082–90. Pubmed, doi:10.1038/s41386-019-0400-1. Full Text

Martini, Michael L., et al. “Designing Functionally Selective Noncatechol Dopamine D1 Receptor Agonists with Potent In Vivo Antiparkinsonian Activity.Acs Chem Neurosci, vol. 10, no. 9, Sept. 2019, pp. 4160–82. Pubmed, doi:10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00410. Full Text

Pinkerton, Anthony B., et al. “Discovery of β-Arrestin Biased, Orally Bioavailable, and CNS Penetrant Neurotensin Receptor 1 (NTR1) Allosteric Modulators.J Med Chem, vol. 62, no. 17, Sept. 2019, pp. 8357–63. Pubmed, doi:10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00340. Full Text

Toth, Krisztian, et al. “Encoding the β-Arrestin Trafficking Fate of Ghrelin Receptor GHSR1a: C-Tail-Independent Molecular Determinants in GPCRs.Acs Pharmacol Transl Sci, vol. 2, no. 4, Aug. 2019, pp. 230–46. Pubmed, doi:10.1021/acsptsci.9b00018. Full Text

Israelyan, Narek, et al. “Effects of Serotonin and Slow-Release 5-Hydroxytryptophan on Gastrointestinal Motility in a Mouse Model of Depression.Gastroenterology, vol. 157, no. 2, Aug. 2019, pp. 507-521.e4. Pubmed, doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2019.04.022. Full Text


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