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An Immunocytochemical-Derived Correlate for Evaluating the Bridging of Heteromeric Mu-Delta Opioid Protomers by Bivalent Ligands

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journal contribution
posted on 19.07.2013, 00:00 by Ajay S. Yekkirala, Alexander E Kalyuzhny, Philip S. Portoghese
Bivalent ligands that contain two pharmacophores linked by a spacer are promising tools to investigate the pharmacology of opioid receptor heteromers. Evidence for occupation of neighboring protomers by two phamacophores of a single bivalent ligand (bridging) has relied mainly on pharmacological data. In the present study, we have employed an immunocytochemical correlate to support in vivo biological studies that are consistent with bridging. We show that a bivalent mu agonist/delta antagonist (MDAN-21) that is devoid of tolerance due to possible bridging of mu and delta protomers prevents endocytosis of the heteromeric receptors in HEK-293 cells. Conversely, a bivalent ligand (MDAN-16) with a short spacer or monovalent mu agonist give rise to robust internalization. The data suggest that the immobilization of proximal mu and delta protomers is due to bridging by MDAN-21. The finding that MDAN-21 and its shorter spacer homologue MDAN-16 possess equivalent activity in HEK-293 cells, but produce dramatically divergent internalization of mu-delta heteromer, is relevant to the role of internalization and tolerance.