A Novel alternatively spliced isoform of the mu-opioid receptor: functional antagonism

Center for Neurosensory Disorders, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
Molecular Pain (Impact Factor: 3.65). 06/2010; 6(1):33. DOI: 10.1186/1744-8069-6-33
Source: PubMed


Opioids are the most widely used analgesics for the treatment of clinical pain. They produce their therapeutic effects by binding to mu-opioid receptors (MORs), which are 7 transmembrane domain (7TM) G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), and inhibiting cellular activity. However, the analgesic efficacy of opioids is compromised by side-effects such as analgesic tolerance, dependence and opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). In contrast to opioid analgesia these side effects are associated with cellular excitation. Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain these phenomena, yet the molecular mechanisms underlying tolerance and OIH remain poorly understood.
We recently discovered a new human alternatively spliced isoform of MOR (MOR1K) that is missing the N-terminal extracellular and first transmembrane domains, resulting in a 6TM GPCR variant. To characterize the pattern of cellular transduction pathways activated by this human MOR1K isoform, we conducted a series of pharmacological and molecular experiments. Results show that stimulation of MOR1K with morphine leads to excitatory cellular effects. In contrast to stimulation of MOR1, stimulation of MOR1K leads to increased Ca2+ levels as well as increased nitric oxide (NO) release. Immunoprecipitation experiments further reveal that unlike MOR1, which couples to the inhibitory Galphai/o complex, MOR1K couples to the stimulatory Galphas complex.
The major MOR1 and the alternative MOR1K isoforms mediate opposite cellular effects in response to morphine, with MOR1K driving excitatory processes. These findings warrant further investigations that examine animal and human MORK1 expression and function following chronic exposure to opioids, which may identify MOR1K as a novel target for the development of new clinically effective classes of opioids that have high analgesic efficacy with diminished ability to produce tolerance, OIH, and other unwanted side-effects.

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    • "Coexpression of NR1 with NR2 subunit enhances the expression of functional channels[9,12]. Enhancement of NMDA receptor function has been shown to occur after chronic morphine exposure, which also appears rapidly during 4, 6, and 8 nM remifentanil infusion[6,13,14]. OIH can be prevented by NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine both in animals and humans. "
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    ABSTRACT: A large number of experimental and clinical studies have confirmed that brief remifentanil exposure can enhance pain sensitivity presenting as opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists have been reported to inhibit morphine analgesic tolerance in many studies. Recently, we found that glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) modulated NMDA receptor trafficking in a rat model of remifentanil-induced postoperative hyperalgesia. In the current study, it was demonstrated that GSK-3β inhibition prevented remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia via regulating the expression and function of spinal NMDA receptors in vivo and in vitro. We firstly investigated the effects of TDZD-8, a selective GSK-3β inhibitor, on thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia using a rat model of remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia. GSK-3β activity as well as NMDA receptor subunits (NR1, NR2A and NR2B) expression and trafficking in spinal cord L4-L5 segments were measured by Western blot analysis. Furthermore, the effects of GSK-3β inhibition on NMDA-induced current amplitude and frequency were studied in spinal cord slices by whole-cell patch-clamp recording. We found that remifentanil infusion at 1 μg·kg(-1)·min(-1) and 2 μg·kg(-1)·min(-1) caused mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia, up-regulated NMDA receptor subunits NR1 and NR2B expression in both membrane fraction and total lysate of the spinal cord dorsal horn and increased GSK-3β activity in spinal cord dorsal horn. GSK-3β inhibitor TDZD-8 significantly attenuated remifentanil-induced mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia from 2 h to 48 h after infusion, and this was associated with reversal of up-regulated NR1 and NR2B subunits in both membrane fraction and total lysate. Furthermore, remifentanil incubation increased amplitude and frequency of NMDA receptor-induced current in dorsal horn neurons, which was prevented with the application of TDZD-8. These results suggest that inhibition of GSK-3β can significantly ameliorate remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia via modulating the expression and function of NMDA receptors, which present useful insights into the mechanistic action of GSK-3β inhibitor as potential anti-hyperalgesic agents for treating OIH.
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    • "As a part of G protein, GNAO1 may have relations with OPRM1 and FZD2, which are G protein related upstream receptor and downstream effective module, respectively. OPRM1 gene encodes the mu-opioid receptor, which is a member of the opioid family of GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors) [18] and affects calcium current and potassium ion conductance [19,20]. FZD2 is a receptor of Wnt receptor pathway, which seems to be involved in the interactions with G-proteins [21,22]. "
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    • "For example, the μ-opioid receptor gene has 25 splice variants in mice, 8 splice variants in rats and 11 splice variants in humans. The existence of those variants greatly increases the functional diversity and complexity of the μ-opioid receptor gene in agonist-induced G protein activation, adenylyl cyclase activity, receptor internalization and phosphorylation [60], [61]. Many other members of RGS family, including RGS2, RGS3, RGS4, RGS5, RGS6, RGS8, RGS9, RGS12 and RGS19, have been demonstrated to express alternatively spliced mRNA variants. "
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    ABSTRACT: Regulator of G protein signaling 4 (RGS4) is a critical modulator of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated signaling and plays important roles in many neural process and diseases. Particularly, drug-induced alteration in RGS4 protein levels is associated with acute and chronic effects of drugs of abuse. However, the precise mechanism underlying the regulation of RGS4 expression is largely unknown. Here, we demonstrated that the expression of RGS4 gene was subject to regulation by alternative splicing of the exon 6. Transformer-2β (Tra2β), an important splicing factor, bound to RGS4 mRNA and increased the relative level of RGS4-1 mRNA isoform by enhancing the inclusion of exon 6. Meanwhile, Tra2β increased the expression of full-length RGS4 protein. In rat brain, Tra2β was co-localized with RGS4 in multiple opioid action-related brain regions. In addition, the acute and chronic morphine treatment induced alteration in the expression level of Tra2β in rat locus coerulus (LC) in parallel to that of RGS4 proteins. It suggests that induction of this splicing factor may contribute to the change of RGS4 level elicited by morphine. Taken together, the results provide the evidence demonstrating the function of Tra2β as a new mediator in opioid-induced signaling pathway via regulating RGS4 expression.
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