Regulator of G-Protein Signalling 4 (RGS4) negatively modulates nociceptin/orphanin FQ opioid receptor signalling: Implication for l-Dopa-induced dyskinesia

Br J Pharmacol. 2021 Nov 12. doi: 10.1111/bph.15730. Online ahead of print.


Background and purpose: Regulator of G-protein signalling 4 (RGS4) is a signal transduction protein that accelerates intrinsic GTPase activity of Gαi/o and Gαq subunits, suppressing GPCR signalling. Here, we investigate whether RGS4 modulates nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) opioid (NOP) receptor signalling and if this modulation has relevance for l-Dopa-induced dyskinesia.

Experimental approach: HEK293T cells transfected with NOP, NOP/RGS4 or NOP/RGS19 were challenged with N/OFQ and the small-molecule NOP agonist AT-403, using D1-stimulated cAMP levels as a readout. Primary rat striatal neurons and adult mouse striatal slices were challenged with either N/OFQ or AT-403 in the presence of the experimental RGS4 chemical probe, CCG-203920, and D1-stimulated cAMP or phosphorylated extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 (pERK) responses were monitored. In vivo, CCG-203920 was co-administered with AT-403 and l-Dopa to 6-hydroxydopamine hemilesioned rats, and dyskinetic movements, striatal biochemical correlates of dyskinesia (pERK and pGluR1 levels) and striatal RGS4 levels were measured.

Key results: RGS4 expression reduced NOFQ and AT-403 potency and efficacy in HEK293T cells. CCG-203920 increased N/OFQ potency in primary rat striatal neurons and potentiated AT-403 response in mouse striatal slices. CCG-203920 enhanced AT-403-mediated inhibition of dyskinesia and its biochemical correlates, without compromising its motor-improving effects. Unilateral dopamine depletion caused bilateral reduction of RGS4 levels, which was reversed by l-Dopa. l-Dopa acutely up-regulated RGS4 in the lesioned striatum.

Conclusions and implications: RGS4 physiologically inhibits NOP receptor signalling. CCG-203920 enhanced NOP responses and improved the antidyskinetic potential of NOP receptor agonists, mitigating the effects of striatal RGS4 up-regulation occurring during dyskinesia expression.

Keywords: AT-403; CCG-203920; RGS4; dyskinesia; l-Dopa; nociceptin/orphanin FQ.