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Mol Pharmacol. 1999 Aug;56(2):396-403.

Identification and characterization of three new alternatively spliced mu-opioid receptor isoforms.

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The Cotzias Laboratory of Neuro-Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.


We have identified four new mu-opiod receptor (MOR)-1 exons, indicating that the gene now contains at least nine exons spanning more than 200 kilobases. Replacement of exon 4 by combinations of the new exons yields three new receptors. When expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells, all three variants displayed high affinity for mu-opioid ligands, but kappa and delta drugs were inactive. However, there were subtle, but significant, differences in the binding profiles of the three variants among themselves and from MOR-1. Immunohistochemically, the major variant, MOR-1C, displayed a regional distribution quite distinct from that of MOR-1. Region-specific processing also was seen at the mRNA level. Antisense mapping revealed that the four new exons were all involved in morphine analgesia. Together with two other variants generated from alternative splicing of exon 4, there are now six distinct MOR-1 receptors.

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