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Biochem J. 2008 Jun 1;412(2):245-56. doi: 10.1042/BJ20071689.

CXCR2 chemokine receptor antagonism enhances DOP opioid receptor function via allosteric regulation of the CXCR2-DOP receptor heterodimer.

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Molecular Pharmacology Group, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK.


Opioid agonists have a broad range of effects on cells of the immune system, including modulation of the inflammatory response, and opioid and chemokine receptors are co-expressed by many white cells. Hetero-oligomerization of the human DOP opioid and chemokine CXCR2 receptors could be detected following their co-expression by each of co-immunoprecipitation, three different resonance energy transfer techniques and the construction of pairs of individually inactive but potentially complementary receptor G-protein alpha subunit fusion proteins. Although DOP receptor agonists and a CXCR2 antagonist had no inherent affinity for the alternative receptor when either receptor was expressed individually, use of cells that expressed a DOP opioid receptor construct constitutively, and in which expression of a CXCR2 receptor construct could be regulated, demonstrated that the CXCR2 antagonist enhanced the function of DOP receptor agonists only in the presence of CXCR2. This effect was observed for both enkephalin- and alkaloid-based opioid agonists, and the effective concentrations of the CXCR2 antagonist reflected CXCR2 receptor occupancy. Entirely equivalent results were obtained in cells in which the native DOP opioid receptor was expressed constitutively and in which expression of the isolated CXCR2 receptor could be induced. These results indicate that a CXCR2 receptor antagonist can enhance the function of agonists at a receptor for which it has no inherent direct affinity by acting as an allosteric regulator of a receptor that is a heterodimer partner for the CXCR2 receptor. These results have novel and important implications for the development and use of small-molecule therapeutics.

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