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Papers of the Week

Papers: 31 Aug 2019 - 6 Sep 2019

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Feb

J Neurochem



Phosphorylation of unique C-terminal sites of the mu-opioid receptor variants 1B2 and 1C1 influences their Gs association following chronic morphine.


We recently demonstrated in rat spinal cord that a regimen of escalating doses of systemic morphine, analogous to regimens used clinically for chronic pain management, selectively upregulates the mu-opioid receptor (MOR) splice variants MOR-1B2 and MOR-1C1 mRNA and functional protein. The current study investigated the potential relevance of upregulating MOR-1B2 and MOR-1C1 to the ability of chronic morphine to shift MOR signaling from predominantly G /G inhibitory to G stimulatory. Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that chronic morphine induces phosphorylation of carboxyl terminal sites unique to MOR-1B2 and MOR-1C1, and that this phosphorylation is causally related to augmented association of these variants with G α. Hypotheses were validated by (1) abolition of the chronic morphine-induced increment in MOR-1C1 and MOR-1B2 association with G α by inhibitors of protein kinase A and Casein kinase 2, respectively; (2) failure of chronic morphine to augment MOR variant G α interactions in Chinese hamster ovary cells transiently transfected with either rat MOR-1C1 or MOR-1B2 in which targeted protein kinase A and Casein kinase 2 serine phosphorylation sites, respectively, were mutated to alanine; (3) abrogation of chronic morphine-induced augmented MOR G α association in spinal cord of male rats following intrathecal administration of dicer substrate small interfering RNAs targeting MOR-1B2/MOR-1C1 mRNA. The ability of chronic morphine to not only upregulate specific MOR variants but also their carboxyl terminal phosphorylation and consequent augmented association with G α may represent a novel component of opioid tolerance mechanisms, suggesting novel potential targets for tolerance abatement. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.