Author(s): Molinari P, Vezzi V, Sbraccia M, Gr C, Riitano D,
Abstract Share this page
Abstract The addictive potential of opioids may be related to their differential ability to induce G protein signaling and endocytosis. We compared the ability of 20 ligands (sampled from the main chemical classes of opioids) to promote the association of mu and delta receptors with G protein or beta-arrestin 2. Receptor-arrestin binding was monitored by bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) in intact cells, where pertussis toxin experiments indicated that the interaction was minimally affected by receptor signaling. To assess receptor-G protein coupling without competition from arrestins, we employed a cell-free BRET assay using membranes isolated from cells expressing luminescent receptors and fluorescent Gbeta(1). In this system, the agonist-induced enhancement of BRET (indicating shortening of distance between the two proteins) was G alpha-mediated (as shown by sensitivity to pertussis toxin and guanine nucleotides) and yielded data consistent with the known pharmacology of the ligands. We found marked differences of efficacy for G protein and arrestin, with a pattern suggesting more restrictive structural requirements for arrestin efficacy. The analysis of such differences identified a subset of structures showing a marked discrepancy between efficacies for G protein and arrestin. Addictive opiates like morphine and oxymorphone exhibited large differences both at delta and mu receptors. Thus, they were effective agonists for G protein coupling but acted as competitive enkephalins antagonists (delta) or partial agonists (mu) for arrestin. This arrestin-selective antagonism resulted in inhibition of short and long term events mediated by arrestin, such as rapid receptor internalization and down-regulation.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Neurochemistry & Neuropharmacology