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A PTEN-Regulated Checkpoint Controls Surface Delivery of δ Opioid Receptors.

The δ opioid receptor (δR) is a promising alternate target for pain management because δR agonists show decreased abuse potential compared with current opioid analgesics that target the μ opioid receptor. A critical limitation in developing δR as an analgesic target, however, is that δR agonists show relatively low efficacy in vivo, requiring the use of high doses that often cause adverse effects, such as convulsions. Here we tested whether intracellular retention of δR in sensory neurons contributes to this low δR agonist efficacy in vivo by limiting surface δR expression. Using direct visualization of δR trafficking and localization, we define a phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN)-regulated checkpoint that retains δR in the Golgi and decreases surface delivery in rat and mice sensory neurons. PTEN inhibition releases δR from this checkpoint and stimulates delivery of exogenous and endogenous δR to the neuronal surface both in vitro and in vivo PTEN inhibition in vivo increases the percentage of TG neurons expressing δR on the surface and allows efficient δR-mediated antihyperalgesia in mice. Together, we define a critical role for PTEN in regulating the surface delivery and bioavailability of the δR, explain the low efficacy of δR agonists in vivo, and provide evidence that active δR relocation is a viable strategy to increase δR antinociception.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Opioid analgesics, such as morphine, which target the μ opioid receptor (μR), have been the mainstay of pain management, but their use is highly limited by adverse effects and their variable efficacy in chronic pain. Identifying alternate analgesic targets is therefore of great significance. Although the δ opioid receptor (δR) is an attractive option, a critical limiting factor in developing δR as a target has been the low efficacy of δR agonists. Why δR agonists show low efficacy is still under debate. This study provides mechanistic and functional data that intracellular localization of δR in neurons is a key factor that contributes to low agonist efficacy, and presents a proof of mechanism that relocating δR improves efficacy.

Pubmed ID: 28264976 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Animals | Cell Membrane | Cells, Cultured | Dose-Response Relationship, Drug | Female | Male | Mice | Mice, Inbred C57BL | Neurons | PC12 Cells | PTEN Phosphohydrolase | Phenanthrenes | Protein Transport | Rats | Rats, Sprague-Dawley | Receptors, Opioid, delta

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