Chronic treatment with micro or kappa opioid agonists (>/=2 h) inhibits EGF-induced ERK activation in opioid receptor overexpressing COS-7 cells. Although acute mu and kappa opioids activate ERK via a pertussis toxin-sensitive G protein, pertussis toxin insensitivity of the chronic mu (but not kappa) action was observed. Here, we tested several pertussis toxin-insensitive G proteins as candidates to transduce acute and/or chronic opioid modulation of ERK. Overexpressed Galpha(z) (but not Galpha(12)) transduced acute mu (but not kappa) ERK activation in pertussis toxin-treated COS-7 cells. Chronic mu (but not kappa) inhibited EGF stimulation of ERK in pertussis toxin-treated cells overexpressing Galpha(z) or Galpha(12). Transfection of Galpha(13) or Galpha(q) blocked inhibition under the same conditions. Overexpressed interfering and non-interfering Galpha(z) mutants differentially affected mu inhibition of ERK consistent with G(z) transduction. In this and prior studies, Galpha(z) and Galpha(12) immunoreactivity were detected in untransfected COS-7 cells, suggesting that these G proteins may be endogenous mediators of chronic mu inhibitory actions on ERK.