Gene targeting was used to delete exon 2 of mouse DOR-1, which encodes the δ opioid receptor. Essentially all 3H-[D-Pen2,D-Pen5]enkephalin (3H- DPDPE) and 3H-[D-Ala2,D-Glu4]deltorphin (3H-deltorphin-2) binding is absent from mutant mice, demonstrating that DOR-1 encodes both δ1 and δ2 receptor subtypes. Homozygous mutant mice display markedly reduced spinal δ analgesia, but peptide δ agonists retain supraspinal analgesic potency that is only partially antagonized by naltrindole. Retained DPDPE analgesia is also demonstrated upon formalin testing, while the nonpeptide agonist BW373U69 exhibits enhanced activity in DOR-1 mutant mice. Together, these findings suggest the existence of a second delta-like analgesic system. Finally, DOR-1 mutant mice do not develop analgesic tolerance to morphine, genetically demonstrating a central role for DOR-1 in this process.
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