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J Med Chem. 1988 Feb;31(2):374-83.

Investigation of the structural parameters involved in the mu and delta opioid receptor discrimination of linear enkephalin-related peptides.

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Département de Chimie Organique, U 266 INSERM, UA 498 CNRS, Faculté de Pharmacie, Paris, France.


The previous rules proposed for selective recognition of mu and delta opioid receptors by modified enkephalins were investigated through an extensive structure-activity study. Thus, modifications of the sequence of TRIMU 4 (Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-NHCH(CH3)CH2CH(CH3)2, a peptide that exhibits mu selectivity close to that of DAGO (Try-D-Ala-Gly-N(Me)Phe-Gly.ol), were performed for two positions, 2 and 4, critical for mu recognition. The drastic loss of potency following introduction of L-Ala or Aib in position 2 emphasizes the importance of the stereochemistry and the steric size of the X2 amino acid for optimal mu binding. The enhancement of the intrinsic flexibility of the C-terminal alkyl chain of TRIMU 4 through removal of a methyl group leads to TRIMU 5 (Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-NHCH2CH2CH(CH3)2), a peptide with a mu selectivity similar to that of DAGO. In contrast, introduction of an O-tert-butyl Ser2 residue increases affinity for delta receptors. In the hexapeptide series derived from DSLET (Tyr-D-Ser-Gly-Phe-Leu-Thr), a D-Thr2 moiety was shown to be very efficient in improving delta recognition and delta selectivity appeared also to be modulated by the nature of the sixth residue. The potencies of the 24 peptides studied to inhibit the electrically evoked contractions of the GPI or MVD are relatively well correlated with their affinities for brain mu or delta receptors labeled with [3H]DAGO or [3H]DSLET, respectively. Moreover, the analgesic potency (hot plate test) of the peptides is related to their affinity for rat brain mu receptors. The wide range of receptor affinities exhibited by the compounds reported here could be useful to study the physiological role of mu and delta receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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