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Effect of opioids on Ca2+/cAMP responsive element binding protein

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Ca2+/cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) is an important factor linking the opioid-regulated secondary messenger systems to alterations in gene expression. Opioids regulate CREB level, its phosphorylation and binding to its corresponding response element in the promoters of several genes implicated in drug addiction. CREB mediates the action of opioids on the expression of several genes in brain regions responsible for drug-seeking behavior and manifestation of signs of dependence. Moreover, alterations in CREB level can affect the rewarding properties of morphine and regulate the self-administration of cocaine. At the cellular level CREB acts as convergence point for different cellular pathways. Opioids affect two different intracellular mediator systems: inhibitory - connected with cAMP, and stimulatory - involving calcium and the PKC pathway. Both can affect CREB but in different phases of opiate action. The presence of this biphasic mechanism can explain the phenomenon of the induction of some CRE-controlled genes after both acute and chronic morphine administration. Cellular studies also highlight the relevance of other ATF/CREB family members which can affect Ca2+/cAMP response element (CRE) controlled transcription as well as other transcription factors which make the opioid induction longer lasting.
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R. Przew?ocki, Department of Molecular Neuropharmacology, Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 12 Smetna St., 31-343 Cracow, Poland,
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