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Molecular identification and functional expression of mu 3, a novel alternatively spliced variant of the human mu opiate receptor gene.

Cadet P., Mantione K.J., Stefano G.B.

Studies from our laboratory have revealed a novel mu opiate receptor, mu 3, which is expressed in both vascular tissues and leukocytes. The mu 3 receptor is selective for opiate alkaloids and is insensitive to opioid peptides. We now identify the mu 3 receptor at the molecular level using a 441-bp conserved region of the mu 1 receptor. Sequence analysis of the isolated cDNA suggests that it is a novel, alternatively spliced variant of the mu opiate receptor gene. To determine whether protein expressed from this cDNA exhibits the biochemical characteristics expected of the mu 3 receptor, the cDNA clone was expressed in a heterologous system. At the functional level, COS-1 cells transfected with the mu 3 receptor cDNA exhibited dose-dependent release of NO following treatment with morphine, but not opioid peptides (i.e., Met-enkephalin). Naloxone was able to block the effect of morphine on COS-1 transfected cells. Nontransfected COS-1 cells did not produce NO in the presence of morphine or the opioid peptides at similar concentrations. Receptor binding analysis with [(3)H]dihydromorphine further supports the opiate alkaloid selectivity and opioid peptide insensitivity of this receptor. These data suggest that this new mu opiate receptor cDNA encodes the mu 3 opiate receptor, since it exhibits biochemical characteristics known to be unique to this receptor (opiate alkaloid selective and opioid peptide insensitive). Furthermore, using Northern blot, RT-PCR, and sequence analysis, we have demonstrated the expression of this new mu variant in human vascular tissue, mononuclear cells, polymorphonuclear cells, and human neuroblastoma cells.

J. Immunol. 170:5118-5123(2003) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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