Ligand-directed signalling within the opioid receptor family

Semel Institute for Neuropsychiatry & Human Behavior, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA Shirley and Stefan Hatos Center for Neuropharmacology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale/Université de Strasbourg, Illkirch, France.
British Journal of Pharmacology (Impact Factor: 4.84). 06/2012; 167(5):960-9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02075.x
Source: PubMed


The classic model of GPCR activation proposed that all agonists induce the same active receptor conformation. However, research over the last decade has shown that GPCRs exist in multiple conformations, and that agonists can stabilize different active states. The distinct receptor conformations induced by ligands result in distinct receptor-effector complexes, which produce varying levels of activation or inhibition of subsequent signalling cascades. This concept, referred to as ligand-directed signalling or biased agonism has important biological and therapeutic implications. Opioid receptors are G(i/o) GPCRs and regulate a number of important physiological functions, including pain, reward, mood, stress, gastrointestinal transport and respiration. A number of in vitro studies have shown biased agonism at the three opioid receptors (µ, δ and κ); however, in vivo consequences of this phenomenon have only recently been demonstrated. For the µ and δ opioid receptors, the majority of reported ligand selective behavioural effects are observed as differential adaptations to repeated drug administration. In terms of the κ opioid receptor, clear links between ligand-selective signalling events and specific in vivo responses have been recently characterized. Drugs for all three receptors are either already used or are being developed for clinical applications. There is clearly a need to better characterize the specific events that occur following agonist stimulation and how these relate to in vivo responses. This understanding could eventually lead to the development of tailor-made pharmacotherapies where advantageous drug effects can be selectively targeted over adverse effects.

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Available from: Monique Leana Smith, Apr 25, 2014
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    • "Biased agonism has been described in all three classical opioid receptors and has been reviewed recently (Pradhan et al. 2012). Opioid receptor biased agonist have been proven to be potential therapeutic drugs, for instance µ biased agonists are better analgesics with reduced abused liabilities, while δ and κ biased agonists are promising candidates for the treatment of pain and mood disorders (Pradhan et al. 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Morphine is the most widely used compound among narcotic analgesics and remains the gold standard when the effects of other analgetic drugs are compared. The most characteristic effect of morphine is the modulation of pain perception resulting in an increase in the threshold of noxious stimuli. Antinociception induced by morphine is mediated via opioid receptors, namely the μ-type opioid receptor. Apart from the μ-opioid receptor, two other classical opioid receptors κ- and δ- and one non-classical opioid receptor, the nociceptin receptor was discovered and cloned so far. At the same time endogenous opioids were also discovered, such as enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins. The opioid receptors together with the endogenous opioids form the so called endogenous opioid system, which is highly distributed throughout the body and apart from analgesia it has several other important physiological functions. In this article we will review the historical milestones of opioid research - in detail with morphine. The review will also cover the upmost knowledge in the molecular structure and physiological effects of opioid receptors and endogenous opioids and we will discuss opioid receptor modelling - a rapidly evolving field in opioid receptor research.
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    • "Receptor localization within the lipid rafts after agonist binding can promote G protein coupling or recruitment of other intracellular regulatory proteins [40,41]. Over the past years, increased attention has been drawn to the understanding of intracellular signaling pathways that mediate the therapeutic and/or adverse effects of opioid agonists acting at the MOP receptor [42-44]. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate that different opioids can initiate distinct cellular and physiological responses downstream of receptor activation [40,42]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Opioid analgesics are the most effective drugs for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, they also produce several adverse effects that can complicate pain management. The μ opioid (MOP) receptor, a G protein-coupled receptor, is recognized as the opioid receptor type which primarily mediates the pharmacological actions of clinically used opioid agonists. The morphinan class of analgesics including morphine and oxycodone are of main importance as therapeutically valuable drugs. Though the natural alkaloid morphine contains a C-6-hydroxyl group and the semisynthetic derivative oxycodone has a 6-carbonyl function, chemical approaches have uncovered that functionalizing position 6 gives rise to a range of diverse activities. Hence, position 6 of N-methylmorphinans is one of the most manipulated sites, and is established to play a key role in ligand binding at the MOP receptor, efficacy, signaling, and analgesic potency. We have earlier reported on a chemically innovative modification in oxycodone resulting in novel morphinans with 6-acrylonitrile incorporated substructures. Results This study describes in vitro and in vivo pharmacological activities and signaling of new morphinans substituted in position 6 with acrylonitrile and amido functions as potent agonists and antinociceptive agents interacting with MOP receptors. We show that the presence of a 6-cyano group in N-methylmorphinans has a strong influence on the binding to the opioid receptors and post-receptor signaling. One 6-cyano-N-methylmorphinan of the series was identified as the highest affinity and most selective MOP agonist, and very potent in stimulating G protein coupling and intracellular calcium release through the MOP receptor. In vivo, this MOP agonist showed to be greatly effective against thermal and chemical nociception in mice with marked increased antinociceptive potency than the lead molecule oxycodone. Conclusion Development of such novel chemotypes by targeting position 6 provides valuable insights on ligand-receptor interaction and molecular mode of action, and may aid in identification of opioid therapeutics with enhanced analgesic properties and fewer undesirable effects.
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    • "However, a common feature of GPCRs is that a single receptor can interact with multiple endogenous and exogenous ligands, each of which may activate the receptor in different ways. For example, a large number of endogenous opioid neuropeptides as well as many different opiate drugs interact with opioid receptors, and different opioids and opiates result in divergent processes of receptor activation and regulation (9). Thus, the simplistic view of receptor activation and regulation has been revised by the appreciation that different agonists of the same receptor can result in distinct patterns of signaling and regulation. "
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