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J Med Chem. 2009 Jan 22;52(2):247-58. doi: 10.1021/jm800174p.

Induced association of mu opioid (MOP) and type 2 cholecystokinin (CCK2) receptors by novel bivalent ligands.

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Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


Both mu-opioid (MOP) and type 2 cholecystokinin (CCK2) receptors are present in areas of the central nervous system that are involved in modulation of pain processing. We conducted bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) studies on COS cells coexpressing MOP and CCK2 receptors to determine whether receptor heterodimerization is involved in such modulation. These studies revealed the absence of constitutive or monovalent ligand-induced heterodimerization. Heterodimerization of MOP and CCK2 receptors therefore is unlikely to be responsible for the opposing effects between morphine and CCK in the CNS. However, association was induced, as indicated by a positive BRET signal, on exposure of the cells to bivalent ligands containing mu-opioid agonist and CCK2 receptor antagonist pharmacophores linked through spacers containing 16-22 atoms but not with a shorter (9-atom) spacer. These studies demonstrate for the first time that an appropriately designed bivalent ligand is capable of inducing association of G-protein-coupled receptors. The finding that opioid tolerance studies with these ligands in mice showed no correlation with the BRET data is consistent with the absence of association of MOP and CCK2 receptors in vivo.

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