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J Biol Chem. 2001 Apr 27;276(17):14092-9. Epub 2001 Jan 22.

Monitoring receptor oligomerization using time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer. The human delta -opioid receptor displays constitutive oligomerization at the cell surface, which is not regulated by receptor occupancy.

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  • 1Molecular Pharmacology Group, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland.


Oligomerization of the human delta-opioid receptor and its regulation by ligand occupancy were explored following expression in HEK293 cells using each of co-immunoprecipitation of differentially epitope-tagged forms of the receptor, bioluminescence resonance energy transfer and time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer. All of the approaches identified constitutively formed receptor oligomers, and the time-resolved fluorescence studies confirmed the presence of such homo-oligomers at the cell surface. Neither the agonist ligand [d-Ala(2),d-Leu(5)]enkephalin nor the inverse agonist ligand ICI174864 were able to modulate the oligomerization status of this receptor. Interactions between co-expressed delta-opioid receptors and beta(2)-adrenoreceptors were observed in co-immunoprecipitation studies. Such hetero-oligomers could also be detected using bioluminescence resonance energy transfer although the signal obtained was substantially smaller than for homo-oligomers of either receptor type. Signal corresponding to the delta-opioid receptor-beta(2)-adrenoreceptor hetero-oligomer was increased in the presence of agonist for either receptor. However, substantial levels of this hetero-oligomer were not detected at the cell surface using time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer. These studies demonstrate that, following transient transfection of HEK293 cells, constitutively formed oligomers of the human delta-opioid receptor can be detected by a variety of approaches. However, these are not regulated by ligand occupancy. They also indicate that time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer represents a means to detect such oligomers at the cell surface in populations of intact cells.

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