The Presence of Endogenous Morphine Signaling in Animals

George Stefano; Patrick Cadet; Richard Kream; Wei Zhu
October 2008
Neurochemical Research;Oct2008, Vol. 33 Issue 10, p1933
Academic Journal
Abstract  Recent empirical findings have contributed valuable mechanistic information in support of a regulated de novo biosynthetic pathway for chemically authentic morphine and related morphinan alkaloids within animal cells. Importantly, we and others have established that endogenously expressed morphine represents a key regulatory molecule effecting local circuit autocrine/paracrine cellular signaling via a novel μ3 opiate receptor coupled to constitutive nitric oxide production and release. The present report provides an integrated review of the biochemical, pharmacological, and molecular demonstration of μ3 opiate receptors in historical linkage to the elucidation of mechanisms of endogenous morphine production by animal cells and organ systems. Ongoing research in this exciting area provides a rare window of opportunity to firmly establish essential biochemical linkages between dopamine, a morphine precursor, and animal biosynthetic pathways involved in morphine biosynthesis that have been conserved throughout evolution.


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