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

Chronic morphine administration enhances the expression of Kv1.5 and Kv1.6 voltage-gated K+ channels in rat spinal cord.

Prolonged opiate administration leads to the development of tolerance and dependence. These phenomena are accompanied by selective regulation of distant cellular proteins and mRNAs, including ionic channels. Acute opiate administration differentially affects voltage-dependent K+ currents. Whereas, opiate activation of K+ channels is well established opioid-induced inhibition of K+ conductance has also been studied. In this study, we focused on the effect of chronic morphine exposure on voltage-dependent Shaker-related Kv1.5 and Kv1.6 K+ channel gene expression and on Kv1.5 protein levels in the rat spinal cord. Several experimental approaches including in-situ hybridization, RNAse protection, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were employed. We found that motor neurons are highly enriched in Kv1.5 and Kv1.6 mRNA and in Kv1.5 channel protein. Moreover, we found significant increases in the amount of mRNA encoding for these two K+ channels and in Kv1.5 channel protein in the spinal cord of morphine-treated rats, compared with controls. For example, quantitative in-situ hybridization, revealed a 2.1 +/- 0.15- and 2.3 +/- 0.5-fold increase in Kv1.5 and Kv1.6 channel mRNA levels, respectively. Similar results were obtained by semiquantitative RT-PCR analyses. Kv1.5 protein level was increased by 1.9-fold in the spinal cord or morphine-treated rats. Our results suggest that Kv1.5 and Kv1.6 Shaker K+ channels play an important role in regulating motor activity that increases in mRNA and protein levels of the spinal cord K+ channels after chronic morphine exposure could be viewed as a cellular adaptation which compensates for a persistent opioid-induced inhibition of K+ channel activity. These alterations may account, in part, for the cellular events leading to opiate tolerance and dependence.[1]


  1. Chronic morphine administration enhances the expression of Kv1.5 and Kv1.6 voltage-gated K+ channels in rat spinal cord. Matus-Leibovitch, N., Vogel, Z., Ezra-Macabee, V., Etkin, S., Nevo, I., Attali, B. Brain Res. Mol. Brain Res. (1996) [Pubmed]
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