Opioid drugs are generally used for moderate and severe pain reductions which act through opioid receptors. Studies on transcriptional regulation of opioid receptors are still invaluable because not only transcription is the first step to produce protein products in cells, but the receptor transcription levels also affect the pain reduction by opioids, as observed in studies of heterozygous opioid receptor knockout mice. There are growing evidences that epigenetic regulation has played significant roles in transcriptional regulation of genes, including opioid receptors. In general, epigenetic mechanisms include three main regulatory factors: DNA methylation, chromatin modification, and noncoding RNAs (such as microRNA). From previous studies of ours and others on opioid receptors, those epigenetic factors were clearly involved in regulating opioid receptor expression in vivo and in vitro. In this chapter, among those three techniques we describe more details of DNA methylation methods because of emerging concepts of DNA methylation with the recent discovery of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine converting enzyme, TET1. Another analytical method of the epigenetic factors, chromatin modification, will be described briefly and information of analyzing noncoding RNAs is briefly mentioned in Subheading 1.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015.
- DNA methylation
- Epigenetic regulation
- Opioid receptor