Morphine administration alters the profile of hippocampal postsynaptic density-associated proteins: a proteomics study focusing on endocytic proteins

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2007 Jan;6(1):29-42. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M600184-MCP200. Epub 2006 Oct 6.


Numerous studies have shown that drugs of abuse induce changes in protein expression in the brain that are thought to play a role in synaptic plasticity. Drug-induced plasticity can be mediated by changes at the synapse and more specifically at the postsynaptic density (PSD), which receives and transduces synaptic information. To date, the majority of studies examining synaptic protein profiles have focused on identifying the synaptic proteome. Only a handful of studies have examined the changes in synaptic profile by drug administration. We applied a quantitative proteomics analysis technique with the cleavable ICAT reagent to quantitate relative changes in protein levels of the hippocampal PSD in response to morphine administration. We identified a total of 102 proteins in the mouse hippocampal PSD. The majority of these were signaling, trafficking, and cytoskeletal proteins involved in synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. Among the proteins whose levels were found to be altered by morphine administration, clathrin levels were increased to the largest extent. Immunoblotting and electron microscopy studies showed that this increase was localized to the PSD. Morphine treatment was also found to lead to a local increase in two other components of the endocytic machinery, dynamin and AP-2, suggesting a critical involvement of the endocytic machinery in the modulatory effects of morphine. Because alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors are thought to undergo clathrin-mediated endocytosis, we examined the effect of morphine administration on the association of the AMPA receptor subunit, GluR1, with clathrin. We found a substantial decrease in the levels of GluR1 associated with clathrin. Taken together, these results suggest that, by causing a redistribution of endocytic proteins at the synapse, morphine modulates synaptic plasticity at hippocampal glutamatergic synapses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Clathrin Heavy Chains / chemistry
  • Clathrin Heavy Chains / ultrastructure
  • Endocytosis / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Proteomics*
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / metabolism*


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • postsynaptic density proteins
  • Clathrin Heavy Chains
  • Morphine
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1