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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 May 2022 - 3 Jun 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 May 24

ACS Omega



Functional Characterization of Sodium Channel Inhibitors at the Delta-Opioid Receptor.


Mohamud AO, Zeghal M, Patel S, Laroche G, Blgacim N, Giguère PM
ACS Omega. 2022 May 24; 7(20):16939-16951.
PMID: 35647460.


Existing pharmacotherapies acting on the opioid receptor system have been extensively used to treat chronic pain and addictive disorders. Nevertheless, the adverse side effects associated with opioid therapy underscore the need for concerted measures to develop safer analgesics. A promising avenue of research stems from the characterization of a sodium-dependent allosteric regulation site housed within the delta-opioid receptor and several other G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), thereby revealing the presence of a cluster of sodium and water molecules lodged in a cavity thought to be present only in the inactive conformation of the receptor. Studies into the structure-function relationship of said pocket demonstrated its critical involvement in the functional control of GPCR signaling. While the sodium pocket has been proposed to be present in the majority of class A GPCRs, the shape of this allosteric cavity appears to have significant structural variation among crystallographically solved GPCRs, making this site optimal for the design of new allosteric modulators that will be selective for opioid receptors. The size of the sodium pocket supports the accommodation of small molecules, and it has been speculated that promiscuous amiloride and 5'-substituted amiloride-related derivatives could target this cavity within many GPCRs, including opioid receptors. Using pharmacological approaches, we have described the selectivities of 5'-substituted amiloride-related derivatives, as well as the hitherto undescribed activity of the NHE1 inhibitor zoniporide toward class A GPCRs. Our investigations into the structural features of the delta-opioid receptor and its ensuing signaling activities suggest a bitopic mode of overlapping interactions involving the orthosteric site and the juxtaposed Na pocket, but only at the active or partially active opioid receptor.