GRK2 Dictates a Functional Switch of the Peripheral Mu-Opioid Receptor

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3 Scopus citations


The peripheral mu-opioid receptor (MOR) has been recognized as a potential target to provide safer analgesia with reduced central side effects. Although analgesic incompetence of the peripheral MOR in the absence of inflammation was initially identified more than a decade ago, there has been very limited investigation into the underlying signaling mechanisms. Here we identify that G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) constitutively interacts with the MOR in peripheral sensory neurons to suppress peripheral MOR activity. Brief exposure to bradykinin (BK) causes uncoupling of GRK2 from the MOR and subsequent restoration of MOR functionality in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Interestingly, prolonged BK treatment induces constitutive activation of the MOR through a mechanism that involves protein kinase C (PKC) activation. After silencing Raf kinase inhibitory protein (RKIP) by RNA interference, BK-induced constitutive MOR activation is completely abrogated, which agrees with previous findings that BK activates PKC signaling to initiate GRK2 sequestration by RKIP. Furthermore, we demonstrate that constitutive, peripheral MOR activity requires GRK2 uncoupling and that the FDA-approved SSRI paroxetine promotes this state of uncoupling. Collectively, these results indicate that GRK2 tightly regulates MOR functional states and controls constitutive MOR activity in peripheral sensory neurons, supporting the potential for targeting the kinase to provide safer analgesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4376-4386
Number of pages11
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 16 2020


  • GRK2
  • MOR
  • Opioid
  • bradykinin
  • pain
  • paroxetine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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