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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Sep;30(9):1632-48.

The RGSZ2 protein exists in a complex with mu-opioid receptors and regulates the desensitizing capacity of Gz proteins.

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  • 1Neurofarmacología, Instituto de Neurobiología Santiago Ramón y Cajal, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.


The regulator of G-protein signaling RGS17(Z2) is a member of the RGS-Rz subfamily of GTPase-activating proteins (GAP) that efficiently deactivate GalphazGTP subunits. We have found that in the central nervous system (CNS), the levels of RGSZ2 mRNA and protein are elevated in the hypothalamus, midbrain, and pons-medulla, and that RGSZ2 is glycosylated in synaptosomal membranes isolated from CNS tissue. In analyzing the function of RGSZ2 in the CNS, we found that when the expression of RGSZ2 was impaired, the antinociceptive response to morphine and [D-Ala2, N-MePhe4, Gly-ol5]-enkephalin (DAMGO) augmented. This potentiation involved mu-opioid receptors and increased tolerance to further doses of these agonists administered 24 h later. High doses of morphine promoted agonist desensitization even within the analgesia time-course, a phenomenon that appears to be related to the great capacity of morphine to activate Gz proteins. In contrast, the knockdown of RGSZ2 proteins did not affect the activity of delta receptor agonists, [D-Pen2,5]-enkephalin (DPDPE), and [D-Ala2] deltorphin II. In membranes from periaqueductal gray matter (PAG), both RGSZ2 and the related RGS20(Z1) co-precipitated with mu-opioid receptors. While a morphine challenge reduced the association of Gi/o/z with mu receptors, it increased their association with the RGSZ2 and RGSZ1 proteins. However, only Galphaz subunits co-precipitated with RGSZ2. Doses of morphine that produced acute tolerance maintained the association of Galpha subunits with RGSZ proteins even after the analgesic effects had ceased. These results indicate that both RGSZ1 and RGSZ2 proteins influence mu receptor signaling by sequestering Galpha subunits, therefore behaving as effector antagonists.

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