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Dermenkephalin (Tyr-D-Met-Phe-His-Leu-Met-Asp-NH2): a potent and fully specific agonist for the delt

Dermenkephalin (Tyr-D-Met-Phe-His-Leu-Met-Asp-NH2): a potent and fully specific agonist for the delt

  1. Anonymous
    Mol Pharmacol. 1989 Jun;35(6):774-9.
    Amiche M, Sagan S, Mor A, Delfour A, Nicolas P.

    Abstract

    Dermorphin, Tyr-D-Ala-Phe-Gly-Tyr-Pro-Ser-NH2 is an extraordinarily potent and highly mu-selective opioid heptapeptide isolated from amphibian skin. It is unique among peptides synthesized by animal cells in having an amino acid residue in the D-configuration. At least two different preprodermorphin cDNAs were cloned from skin of Phylomedusa sauvagei; their predicted amino acid sequences contained four to five homologous repeats of 35 amino acids, each repeat including one copy of the dermorphin progenitor sequence. Tyr-Ala-Phe-Gly-Tyr-Pro-Ser-Gly, flanked by Lys-Arg at the amino end and by Glu-Ala-Lys-Lys at the carboxyl end [Science (Wash. D. C.) 238:200-202 (1987)]. The D-Ala in position 2 in dermorphin is encoded by a usual Ala codon in the precursor sequence. Of the two prodermorphin molecules, one has a dermorphin copy replaced with a distinct heptapeptide same processing signals. Assuming the same pathway as for the release of dermorphin, processing of this precursor may yield, beside dermorphin, a copy of a new peptide, Tyr-D-Met-Phe-His-Leu-Met-Asp-NH2. We have synthetized this peptide together with its (L-Met2)-counterpart and evaluated their respective opioid receptor selectivity in the mouse vas deferens and guinea pig ileum assays and in rat brain membrane binding assays. Overall, the data collected demonstrate that the putative prodermorphin product Tyr-D-Met-Phe-His-Leu-Met-Asp-NH2 named dermenkephalin, behaves as a potent delta opioid agonist exhibiting high affinity and high selectivity for the delta opioid receptor. Prodermorphin, thus, offers a surprising example of an opioid biosynthetic precursor that might simultaneously generate highly potent and fully selective agonists for the mu- (morphine) and the delta (enkephalin) opioid receptors, respectively. In addition, because dermenkephalin has no structural features in common with the sequence of all the hitherto known opioid peptides, it should be a useful tool for identifying conformational determinants for high affinity and selective binding of opioids to the delta receptor.