Agonist-specific regulation of δ-opioid receptor trafficking by G protein-coupled receptor kinase and β-arrestin

Jie Zhang, Stephen S.G. Ferguson, Ping-Yee Law, Larry S. Barak, Marc G. Caron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Opioid receptors mediate multiple biological functions through their interaction with endogenous opioid peptides as well as opioid alkaloids including morphine and etorphine. Previously we have reported that the ability of distinct opioid agonists to differentially regulate μ-opioid receptor (μOR) responsiveness is related to their ability to promote G protein-coupled receptor kinase (GRK)-dependent phosphorylation of the receptor (1). In the present study, we further examined the role of GRK and β-arrestin in agonist-specific regulation of the δ-opioid receptor (δOR). While both etorphine and morphine effectively activate the δOR, only etorphine triggers robust δOR phosphorylation followed by plasma membrane translocation of β-arrestin and receptor internalization. In contrast, morphine is unable to either elicit δOR phosphorylation or stimulate β- arrestin translocation, correlating with its inability to cause δOR internalization. Unlike for the δOR, overexpression of GRK2 results in neither the enhancement of δOR sequestration nor the rescue of δOR-mediated β-arrestin translocation. Therefore, our findings not only point to the existence of marked differences in the ability of different opioid agonists to promote δOR phosphorylation by GRK and binding to β-arrestin, but also demonstrate differences in the regulation of two opioid receptor subtypes. These observations may have important implications for our understanding of the distinct ability of various opioids in inducing opioid tolerance and addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-313
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Receptor and Signal Transduction Research
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ms. Sobha Bodduluri and Linda Cyzyk for expert technical assistance. This work. was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant NS 19576. an unrestricted Neuroscience Award from Bristol Myers Squibb and an unrestricted grant from Zeneca Phannaceutical Co. to MGC, ;and National Institutes of Health Grant HL 03422 to LSB.


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