Epigenetic control of the expression of opioid receptor genes

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Three opioid receptors (ORs) are encoded by three different genes, the μ (MOR), δ (dor) and κ (KOR) genes in the OR gene family. The three genes are highly conserved in their structures and regulatory sequences, but expressed in temporally and spatially distinct patterns. Studies using cell models have revealed transcriptional regulation of the three genes by combinatorial, multiple transcription factors and chromatin remodeling and modification factors. Recent results implicated additional epigenetic contribution to the expression of the three OR genes, reflected on the alteration in their DNA methylation patterns and chromatin modifications, along the course of neuronal differentiation. In the retinoic acid-induced neuronal differentiation model, expression of receptors for neurotrophins in differentiating cells appeared to contribute to changes in the epigenetic marks of the promoters of OR genes during the course of neuronal differentiation, and hence the level of OR expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-121
Number of pages3
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, by Philip Morris USA Inc., and Philip Morris International, and NIH grants DA11190, DA11806, DK54733, DK60521, K02-DA13926 to L.-N.W.


  • Chromatin remodeling
  • Epigenetics
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Neuron
  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Opioid receptor
  • P19
  • Retinoic acid
  • Transcriptional regulation


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