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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Heterodimerization of opioid receptor-like 1 and mu-opioid receptors impairs the potency of micro receptor agonist.

Nociceptin activation of ORL1 (opioid receptor-like 1 receptor) has been shown to antagonize mu receptor-mediated analgesia at the supraspinal level. ORL1 and mu-opioid receptor (muR) are co-expressed in several subpopulations of CNS neurons involved in regulating pain transmission. The amino acid sequence of ORL1 also shares a high degree of homology with that of mu receptor. Thus, it is hypothesized that ORL1 and muR interact to form the heterodimer and that ORL1/muR heterodimerization may be one molecular basis for ORL1-mediated antiopioid effects in the brain. To test this hypothesis, myc-tagged ORL1 and HA-tagged muR are co-expressed in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate that ORL1 dimerizes with muR and that intracellular C-terminal tails of ORL1 and muR are required for the formation of ORL1/muR heterodimer. Second messenger assays further indicate that formation of ORL1/muR heterodimer selectively induces cross-desensitization of muR and impairs the potency by which [D-Ala(2),N-methyl-Phe(4),Gly-ol(5)]enkephalin (DAMGO) inhibits adenylate cyclase and stimulates p42/p44 mitogen- activated protein kinase ( MAPK) phosphorylation. These results provide the evidence that ORL1/muR heterodimerization and the resulting impairment of mu receptor-activated signaling pathways may contribute to ORL1-mediated antiopioid effects in the brain.[1]


  1. Heterodimerization of opioid receptor-like 1 and mu-opioid receptors impairs the potency of micro receptor agonist. Wang, H.L., Hsu, C.Y., Huang, P.C., Kuo, Y.L., Li, A.H., Yeh, T.H., Tso, A.S., Chen, Y.L. J. Neurochem. (2005) [Pubmed]
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