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J Neurochem. 1985 May;44(5):1647-56.

Characterization of a labile naloxone binding site (lambda site) in rat brain.


A high-affinity binding site selective for naloxone and other 4,5-epoxymorphinans (lambda site) has been previously described in rat brain. Following homogenization of freshly dissected brain, the lambda sites convert from a high-affinity to a low-affinity state. When measured with [3H]naloxone, the decay is very rapid at 20 degrees C (t 1/2 less than 2 min), whereas it is progressively slowed at lower temperatures. Proteinase inhibitors, antoxidants, and sulfhydryl group-protecting agents failed to prevent this conversion. Kinetic measurements of mu and lambda binding at varying temperatures demonstrated that the decrease in lambda binding does not coincide with the concurrent increase in mu binding and that the loss of high-affinity lambda binding at 20 degrees C can be partially restored when the temperature is lowered to 0 degrees C. The low-affinity state of the lambda site is rather stable in the Tris buffer homogenates and is susceptible to digestion by a protease. The (-)-isomer of WIN 44,441, a benzomorphan drug, binds to lambda sites with moderate affinity (dissociation constant, KD = 63 nM), whereas the (+)-isomer does not (KD greater than 10,000 nM), thus establishing stereoselectivity of the binding process. Neither the high-affinity nor the low-affinity state of lambda binding is significantly affected by the presence of 100 mM sodium chloride or 50 microM Gpp(NH)p, (a GTP analog), which is in contrast to the dramatic effect of these agents on the established opioid receptor system. Naltrexone, naloxone, nalorphine, and morphine (in this order of decreasing potency) bind to the lambda site in vivo in intact rat brain over dosage ranges that are commonly employed in pharmacological studies.

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