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J Biol Chem. 2007 Mar 16;282(11):8332-42. Epub 2007 Jan 15.

Physical association between neuropeptide FF and micro-opioid receptors as a possible molecular basis for anti-opioid activity.

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Institut de Pharmacologie et Biologie Structurale, CNRS UMR 5089, 205 route de Narbonne, 31077 Toulouse cedex 04, France.


Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) modulates the opioid system by exerting functional anti-opioid activity on neurons, the mechanism of which is unknown. By using a model of SH-SY5Y cells, we recently postulated that anti-opioid activity likely takes place upstream from the signaling cascade, suggesting that NPFF receptors could block opioid receptors by physical interaction. In the present study, fluorescence techniques were used to monitor the physical association and the dynamic of NPFF2 and micro-opioid (MOP) receptors tagged with variants of the green fluorescent protein. Importantly, cyan fluorescent protein-tagged NPFF2 receptors retained their capacity to antagonize opioid receptors. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and coimmunoprecipitation studies indicate that NPFF and MOP receptors are close enough to generate a basal FRET signal. The opioid agonist Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-NMe-Phe-Gly-ol disrupts by 20-30% this FRET signal, mainly because it concomitantly induces 40% internalization of receptors. In contrast, the NPFF analog 1DMe significantly increases by 10-15% the basal FRET signal, suggesting an association between both receptors. In addition, 1DMe reduces, by half, MOP receptor internalization, indicating that, besides a functional blockade of opioid receptors, the NPFF analog also inhibits their internalization. Finally, as a first report showing the modulation of the mobility of a G-protein-coupled receptor by another one, fluorescence recovery after photobleaching analysis reveals that 1DMe modifies the lateral diffusion of MOP receptors in the cell membrane, changing them from a confined to a freely diffusing state. By promoting NPFF-MOP receptor heteromerization, 1DMe could disrupt the domain organization of MOP receptors in the membrane, resulting in a reduction of opioid response.

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