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FEBS Lett. 1998 Nov 13;439(1-2):152-6.

Endomorphins fully activate a cloned human mu opioid receptor.

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Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, OH 45267-0521, USA.


Endomorphins were recently identified as endogenous ligands with high selectivity for mu opioid receptors. We have characterized the ability of endomorphins to bind to and functionally activate the cloned human mu opioid receptor. Both endomorphin-1 and endomorphin-2 exhibited binding selectivity for the mu opioid receptor over the delta and kappa opioid receptors. Both agonists inhibited forskolin-stimulated increase of cAMP in a dose-dependent fashion. When the mu opioid receptor was coexpressed in Xenopus oocytes with G protein-activated K+ channels, application of either endomorphin activated an inward K+ current. This activation was dose-dependent and blocked by naloxone. Both endomorphins acted as full agonists with efficacy similar to that of [D-Ala2,N-Me-Phe4,Gly-ol5]enkephalin (DAMGO). These data indicate that endomorphins act as full agonists at the human mu opioid receptor, capable of stimulating the receptor to inhibit the cAMP/adenylyl cyclase pathway and activate G-protein-activated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels.

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