Opiate agonist-induced re-distribution of Wntless, a mu-opioid receptor interacting protein, in rat striatal neurons

B. A.S. Reyes, K. Vakharia, T. N. Ferraro, R. Levenson, W. H. Berrettini, E. J. Van Bockstaele

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20 Scopus citations


Wntless (WLS), a mu-opioid receptor (MOR) interacting protein, mediates Wnt protein secretion that is critical for neuronal development. We investigated whether MOR agonists induce re-distribution of WLS within rat striatal neurons. Adult male rats received either saline, morphine or [. d-Ala2, N-Me-Phe4, Gly-ol5]-enkephalin (DAMGO) directly into the lateral ventricles. Following thirty minutes, brains were extracted and tissue sections were processed for immunogold silver detection of WLS. In saline-treated rats, WLS was distributed along the plasma membrane and within the cytoplasmic compartment of striatal dendrites as previously described. The ratio of cytoplasmic to total dendritic WLS labeling was 0.70 ± 0.03 in saline-treated striatal tissue. Morphine treatment decreased this ratio to 0.48 ± 0.03 indicating a shift of WLS from the intracellular compartment to the plasma membrane. However, following DAMGO treatment, the ratio was 0.85 ± 0.05 indicating a greater distribution of WLS intracellularly. The difference in the re-distribution of the WLS following different agonist exposure may be related to DAMGO's well known ability to induce internalization of MOR in contrast to morphine, which is less effective in producing receptor internalization. Furthermore, these data are consistent with our hypothesis that MOR agonists promote dimerization of WLS and MOR, thereby preventing WLS from mediating Wnt secretion. In summary, our findings indicate differential agonist-induced trafficking of WLS in striatal neurons following distinct agonist exposure. Adaptations in WLS trafficking may represent a novel pharmacological target in the treatment of opiate addiction and/or pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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