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J Neurosci. 2007 May 9;27(19):5092-104.

Beta-arrestin2 and c-Src regulate the constitutive activity and recycling of mu opioid receptors in dorsal root ganglion neurons.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Hatos Center, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Beta-arrestins bind to agonist-activated G-protein-coupled receptors regulating signaling events and initiating endocytosis. In beta-arrestin2-/- (beta arr2-/-) mice, a complex phenotype is observed that includes altered sensitivity to morphine. However, little is known of how beta-arrestin2 affects mu receptor signaling. We investigated the coupling of mu receptors to voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (VGCCs) in beta arr2+/+ and beta arr2-/- dorsal root ganglion neurons. A lack of beta-arrestin2 reduced the maximum inhibition of VGCCs by morphine and DAMGO (D-Ala2-N-Me-Phe4-glycol5-enkephalin) without affecting agonist potency, the onset of receptor desensitization, or the functional contribution of N-type VGCCs. The reduction in inhibition was accompanied by increased naltrexone-sensitive constitutive inhibitory coupling of mu receptors to VGCCs. Agonist-independent mu receptor inhibitory coupling was insensitive to CTAP (Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Arg-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2), a neutral antagonist that inhibited the inverse agonist action of naltrexone. These functional changes were accompanied by diminished constitutive recycling and increased cell-surface mu receptor expression in beta arr2-/- compared with beta arr2+/+ neurons. Such changes could not be explained by the classical role of beta-arrestins in agonist-induced endocytosis. The localization of the nonreceptor tyrosine kinase c-Src appeared disrupted in beta arr2-/- neurons, and there was reduced activation of c-Src by DAMGO. Using the Src inhibitor PP2 [4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-(t-butyl)pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine], we demonstrated that defective Src signaling mimics the beta arr2-/- cellular phenotype of reduced mu agonist efficacy, increased constitutive mu receptor activity, and reduced constitutive recycling. We propose that beta-arrestin2 is required to target c-Src to constitutively active mu receptors, resulting in their internalization, providing another dimension to the complex role of beta-arrestin2 and c-Src in G-protein-coupled receptor function.

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