Activation and internalization of the mu-opioid receptor by the newly discovered endogenous agonists, endomorphin-1 and endomorphin-2
McConalogue K, Grady EF, Minnis J, Balestra B,
Tonini M, Brecha NC, Bunnett NW, Sternini C
Department of Surgery,
University of California,
San Francisco 94143-0660, USA.
Neuroscience 1999 Mar; 90(3):1051-9


The multiple effects of opiate alkaloids, important therapeutic drugs used for pain control, are mediated by the neuronal miro-opioid receptor. Among the side effects of these drugs is a profound impairment of gastrointestinal transit. Endomorphins are opioid peptides recently isolated from the nervous system, which have high affinity and selectivity for micro-opioid receptors. Since the miro-opioid receptor undergoes ligand-induced receptor endocytosis in an agonist-dependent manner, we compared the ability of endomorphin-1, endomorphin-2 and the micro-opioid receptor peptide agonist, [D-Ala2,MePhe4,Gly-ol5]-enkephalin (DAMGO), to induce receptor endocytosis in cells transfected with epitope-tagged micro-opioid receptor complementary DNA, and in myenteric neurons of the guinea-pig ileum, which naturally express this receptor. Immunohistochemistry with antibodies to the FLAG epitope or to the native receptor showed that the micro-opioid receptor was mainly located at the plasma membrane of unstimulated cells. Endomorphins and DAMGO induced micro-opioid receptor endocytosis into early endosomes, a process that was inhibited by naloxone. Quantification of surface receptors by flow cytometry indicated that endomorphins' and DAMGO stimulated endocytosis with similar time-course and potency. They inhibited with similar potency electrically induced cholinergic contractions in the longitudinal muscle-myenteric plexus preparation through an action antagonized by naloxone. The apparent affinity estimate of naloxone (pA2 approximately 8.4) is consistent with antagonism at the micro-opioid receptor in myenteric neurons. These results indicate that endomorphins directly activate the micro-opioid receptor in neurons, thus supporting the hypothesis that they are ligands mediating opioid actions in the nervous system. Endomorphin-induced micro-opioid receptor activation can be visualized by receptor endocytosis.
Mu receptors
Knockout mice
Opium timeline
Opioid receptors
Adjuvant analgesics
Endomorphins 1 and 2
The Pleasures of Opium
Is morphine a smart drug?
Opioids, mood and cognition
Endomorphins and the mouse
The rewards of endomorphin 1
Endomorphins and rodent brains
Endomorphin 1, dopamine and nitric oxide
Endomorphins and related opioid peptides
Antioxidative effects of endomorphins in brain
Endomorphin-1, accumbal dopamine and the mu-opioid receptor
How to increase blood-brain barrier penetration of endomorphin 1

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Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World

The Good Drug Guide
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The Responsible Parent's Guide
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