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

A role for the distal carboxyl tails in generating the novel pharmacology and G protein activation profile of mu and delta opioid receptor hetero-oligomers.

Opioid receptor pharmacology in vivo has predicted a greater number of receptor subtypes than explained by the profiles of the three cloned opioid receptors, and the functional dependence of the receptors on each other shown in gene-deleted animal models remains unexplained. One mechanism for such findings is the generation of novel signaling complexes by receptor hetero-oligomerization, which we previously showed results in significantly different pharmacology for mu and delta receptor hetero-oligomers compared with the individual receptors. In the present study, we show that deltorphin-II is a fully functional agonist of the mu-delta heteromer, which induced desensitization and inhibited adenylyl cyclase through a pertussis toxin-insensitive G protein. Activation of the mu-delta receptor heteromer resulted in preferential activation of Galpha(z), illustrated by incorporation of GTPgamma(35)S, whereas activation of the individually expressed mu and delta receptors preferentially activated Galpha(i). The unique pharmacology of the mu-delta heteromer was dependent on the reciprocal involvement of the distal carboxyl tails of both receptors, so that truncation of the distal mu receptor carboxyl tail modified the delta-selective ligand-binding pocket, and truncation of the delta receptor distal carboxyl tail modified the mu-selective binding pocket. The distal carboxyl tails of both receptors also had a significant role in receptor interaction, as evidenced by the reduced ability to co-immunoprecipitate when the carboxyl tails were truncated. The interaction between mu and delta receptors occurred constitutively when the receptors were co-expressed, but did not occur when receptor expression was temporally separated, indicating that the hetero-oligomers were generated by a co-translational mechanism.[1]


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