Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

February 2008


Ultra-low-dose opioid antagonists enhance opioid analgesia and reduce analgesic tolerance and dependence by preventing a G protein coupling switch (Gi/o to Gs) by the mu opioid receptor (MOR), although the binding site of such ultra-low-dose opioid antagonists was previously unknown. Here we show that with approximately 200-fold higher affinity than for the mu opioid receptor, naloxone binds a pentapeptide segment of the scaffolding protein filamin A, known to interact with the mu opioid receptor, to disrupt its chronic opioid-induced Gs coupling. Naloxone binding to filamin A is demonstrated by the absence of [3H]-and FITC-naloxone binding in the melanoma M2 cell line that does not contain filamin or MOR, contrasting with strong [3H]naloxone binding to its filamin A-transfected subclone A7 or to immunopurified filamin A. Naloxone binding to A7 cells was displaced by naltrexone but not by morphine, indicating a target distinct from opioid receptors and perhaps unique to naloxone and its analogs. The intracellular location of this binding site was confirmed by FITC-NLX binding in intact A7 cells. Overlapping peptide fragments from c-terminal filamin A revealed filamin A2561-2565 as the binding site, and an alanine scan of this pentapeptide revealed an essential mid-point lysine. Finally, in organotypic striatal slice cultures, peptide fragments containing filamin A2561-2565 abolished the prevention by 10 pM naloxone of both the chronic morphine-induced mu opioid receptor–Gs coupling and the downstream cAMP excitatory signal. These results establish filamin A as the target for ultra-low-dose opioid antagonists previously shown to enhance opioid analgesia and to prevent opioid tolerance and dependence.


This work was originally published in PLoS ONE, available at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001554.



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