Long-term morphine treatment decreases the association of μ-opioid receptor (MOR1) mRNA with polysomes through miRNA23b

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μ-Opioid receptor (MOR) mediates most of the pharmacological effects of opioid drugs. The expression of MOR is temporarily and spatially regulated at both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Long-term morphine treatment that induces tolerance does not alter MOR mRNA expression, suggesting no direct link between agonist treatment and MOR gene transcription. We previously identified the 3'′-untranslated region (3'′-UTR) of the major transcript of μ-opioid receptor (MOR1) and revealed a novel trans-acting factor, miRNA23b, that binds to the K box motif in the 3'′ -UTR. The interaction between miRNA23b with the MOR1 3'′-UTR suppressed recep tor translation by inhibiting polysome-mRNA association. In this report, we demonstrate that long-term morphine treatment increases miRNA23b expression in a dose- and time-dependent manner and represses the association of MOR1 mRNA with polysomes through the MOR1 3'′ -UTR. The translational luciferase reporter assay shows a suppression effect of morphine on reporter activity that requires the MOR1 3'′-UTR. This suggests a potential link between MOR expression and morphine treatment at the post-transcriptional level in which a specific miRNA, miRNA23b, is involved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-750
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009


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