Stimulus-dependent translocation of κ opioid receptors to the plasma membrane

Samuel J. Shuster, Maureen Riedl, Xinren Li, Lucy Vulchanova, Robert Elde

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80 Scopus citations


We examined the cellular and subcellular distribution of the cloned κ opioid receptor (KOR1) and its trafficking to the presynaptic plasma membrane in vasopressin magnocellular neurosecretory neurons. We used immunohistochemistry to show that KOR1 immunoreactivity (IR) colocalized with vasopressin-containing cell bodies, axons, and axon terminals within the posterior pituitary. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that a major fraction of KOR1-IR was associated with the membrane of peptide-containing large secretory vesicles. KOR1-IR was rarely associated with the plasma membrane in unstimulated nerve terminals within the posterior pituitary. A physiological stimulus (salt-loading) that elicits vasopressin release also caused KOR1-IR to translocate from these vesicles to the plasma membrane. After stimulation, there was a significant decrease in KOR1-IR associated with peptide- containing vesicles and a significant increase in KOR1-IR associated with the plasma membrane. This stimulus-dependent translocation of receptors to the presynaptic plasma membrane provides a novel mechanism for regulation of transmitter release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2658-2664
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999


  • Neurosecretory neurons
  • Pituitary
  • Regulated secretory pathway
  • Trafficking
  • Translocation
  • Vasopressin
  • κ opioid receptor


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