Molecule of the Month: Opioid Receptors
Morphine and other opioid drugs bind to receptors in the nervous system, controlling pain
Pathways of Pain
Stopping the Signal
Exploring the Structure
Several types of opioid receptors are made in our nervous system to manage the many shades of pain signaling. There are three general classes of opioid receptors, termed mu, kappa, delta, and a related nociceptin opioid (NOP) receptor. Atomic structures have been determined for examples from each of these classes, in PDB entries 4dkl, 4djh, 4ej4, and 4ea3). To explore these structures in more detail, click on the image for an interactive JSmol.
Topics for Further Discussion
- Scientists have designed proteins to bind to opioid drugs, for use in drug testing and in treatment of addiction. You can see the structure in PDB entry 5tzo.
- The mu opioid receptor shown above forms a dimer in the crystal, but the functional role of dimerization GPCRs is still being debated. Try looking in the PDB archive for other GPCRs that form dimers.
January 2018, David Goodsellhttp://doi.org/10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2018_1