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Life Sci. 1994;54(25):PL463-9.

Identification of a human delta opioid receptor: cloning and expression.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson 85724.


The delta opioid receptor is an important target for analgesic drug development. This report describes the identification of delta opioid receptor clones from human cDNA libraries and the preparation of a human delta receptor cDNA in the pcDNA3 expression vector for transfection studies. The cDNA encodes a 372 amino acid protein that has 93% amino acid identity to mouse and rat delta receptors. COS-7 cells transfected with this clone express over 1.0 pmol receptor/mg protein when measured by saturation binding with [3H]naltrindole. The delta receptor selective ligands NTB, BNTX, [4'-Cl-Phe4]DPDPE and [D-Ala2,Glu4]deltorphin all have Ki values under 10 nM while the affinities of the mu and kappa opioid receptor ligands CTAP and U-69593, respectively, are over 4.0 microM. Agonists show binding to multiple affinity states of the receptor consistent with the presence of G-protein coupled and uncoupled forms of the expressed receptor. The 8-fold higher affinity of NTB relative to BNTX suggests that the human delta receptor is of the delta 2 subtype.

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