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Biophys J. 1998 Aug;75(2):612-34.

Opioid receptor three-dimensional structures from distance geometry calculations with hydrogen bonding constraints.

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College of Pharmacy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 USA.


Three-dimensional structures of the transmembrane, seven alpha-helical domains and extracellular loops of delta, mu, and kappa opioid receptors, were calculated using the distance geometry algorithm, with hydrogen bonding constraints based on the previously developed general model of the transmembrane alpha-bundle for rhodopsin-like G-protein coupled receptors (Biophys. J. 1997. 70:1963). Each calculated opioid receptor structure has an extensive network of interhelical hydrogen bonds and a ligand-binding crevice that is partially covered by a beta-hairpin formed by the second extracellular loop. The binding cavities consist of an inner "conserved region" composed of 18 residues that are identical in delta, mu, and kappa opioid receptors, and a peripheral "variable region," composed of 19 residues that are different in delta, mu, and kappa subtypes and are responsible for the subtype specificity of various ligands. Sixteen delta-, mu-, or kappa-selective, conformationally constrained peptide and nonpeptide opioid agonists and antagonists and affinity labels were fit into the binding pockets of the opioid receptors. All ligands considered have a similar spatial arrangement in the receptors, with the tyramine moiety of alkaloids or Tyr1 of opioid peptides interacting with conserved residues in the bottom of the pocket and the tyramine N+ and OH groups forming ionic interactions or H-bonds with a conserved aspartate from helix III and a conserved histidine from helix VI, respectively. The central, conformationally constrained fragments of the opioids (the disulfide-bridged cycles of the peptides and various ring structures in the nonpeptide ligands) are oriented approximately perpendicular to the tyramine and directed toward the extracellular surface. The results obtained are qualitatively consistent with ligand affinities, cross-linking studies, and mutagenesis data.

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