• Nociceptin/orphanin FQ;
  • nociceptin receptor;
  • ecdysone-inducible expression;
  • partial agonists;
  • GTPγ35S binding;
  • cAMP
  • Partial agonism is primarily dependent upon receptor density and coupling efficiency. As these parameters are tissue/model dependent, intrinsic activity in different tissues can vary. We have utilised the ecdysone-inducible expression system containing the human nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) peptide receptor (hNOP) expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHOINDhNOP) to examine the activity of a range of partial agonists in receptor binding, GTPγ35S binding and inhibition of adenylyl cyclase studies.

  • Incubation of CHOINDhNOP cells with ponasterone A (PON) induced hNOP expression ([leucyl-3H]N/OFQ binding) of 24, 68, 191 and 1101 fmol mg−1 protein at 1, 2, 5 and 10 μM PON, respectively. At 191 fmol mg−1, protein hNOP pharmacology was identical to that reported for other traditional expression systems.

  • pEC50 values for GTPγ35S binding ranged from 7.23 to 7.72 (2–10 μM PON) for the partial agonist [Phe1ψ(CH2–NH)Gly2]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 ([F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2) and 8.12–8.60 (1–10 μM PON) for N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 and Emax values (stimulation factor relative to basal) ranged from 1.51 to 3.21 (2–10 μM PON) for [F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 and 1.28–6.95 (1–10 μM) for N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2. Intrinsic activity of [F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 relative to N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 was 0.3–0.5. [F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 did not stimulate GTPγ35S binding at 1 μM PON, but competitively antagonised the effects of N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 with a pKB=7.62.

  • pEC50 values for cAMP inhibition ranged from 8.26 to 8.32 (2–10 μM PON) for [F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 and 9.42–10.35 for N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 and Emax values (% inhibition) ranged from 19.6 to 83.2 for [F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 and 40.9–86.0 for N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2. The intrinsic activity of [F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 relative to N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 was 0.48–0.97.

  • In the same cellular environment with receptor density as the only variable, we show that the profile of [F/G]N/OFQ(1–13)–NH2 can be manipulated to encompass full and partial agonism along with antagonism.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2003) 140, 61–70. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0705401