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Genes Brain Behav. 2007 Jun;6(4):329-38. Epub 2006 Aug 7.

Increased response to morphine in mice lacking protein kinase C epsilon.

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Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, Emeryville, CA, USA.


The protein kinase C (PKC) family of serine-threonine kinases has been implicated in behavioral responses to opiates, but little is known about the individual PKC isozymes involved. Here, we show that mice lacking PKCepsilon have increased sensitivity to the rewarding effects of morphine, revealed as the expression of place preference and intravenous self-administration at very low doses of morphine that do not evoke place preference or self-administration in wild-type mice. The PKCepsilon null mice also show prolonged maintenance of morphine place preference in response to repeated testing when compared with wild-type mice. The supraspinal analgesic effects of morphine are enhanced in PKCepsilon null mice, and the development of tolerance to the spinal analgesic effects of morphine is delayed. The density of mu-opioid receptors and their coupling to G-proteins are normal. These studies identify PKCepsilon as a key regulator of opiate sensitivity in mice.

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