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Papers of the Week

2021 Apr 06

Int J Mol Sci



Endogenous Opioid Peptides and Alternatively Spliced Mu Opioid Receptor Seven Transmembrane Carboxyl-Terminal Variants.


There exist three main types of endogenous opioid peptides, enkephalins, dynorphins and β-endorphin, all of which are derived from their precursors. These endogenous opioid peptides act through opioid receptors, including mu opioid receptor (MOR), delta opioid receptor (DOR) and kappa opioid receptor (KOR), and play important roles not only in analgesia, but also many other biological processes such as reward, stress response, feeding and emotion. The MOR gene, OPRM1, undergoes extensive alternative pre-mRNA splicing, generating multiple splice variants or isoforms. One type of these splice variants, the full-length 7 transmembrane (TM) Carboxyl ()-terminal variants, has the same receptor structures but contains different intracellular -terminal tails. The pharmacological functions of several endogenous opioid peptides through the mouse, rat and human OPRM1 7TM -terminal variants have been considerably investigated together with various mu opioid ligands. The current review focuses on the studies of these endogenous opioid peptides and summarizes the results from early pharmacological studies, including receptor binding affinity and G protein activation, and recent studies of β-arrestin2 recruitment and biased signaling, aiming to provide new insights into the mechanisms and functions of endogenous opioid peptides, which are mediated through the OPRM1 7TM -terminal splice variants.