Evidence for a role of CaMKIV in the development of opioid analgesic tolerance

cAMP response-element binding protein (CREB), a transcription factor involved in learning, memory and drug addiction, is phosphorylated by calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV). Here, we show that CaMKIV-knockout (KO) mice developed less analgesic tolerance after chronic morphine administration with no alteration in physical dependence or acute morphine-induced analgesia. The increase in phosphorylated CREB expression observed in wild-type mice after chronic morphine was absent in CaMKIV-KO mice, while there was no difference in the expression or phosphorylation of the micro-opioid receptor between groups. Morphine-treated CaMKIV-KO mice showed less G-protein uncoupling from the micro-opioid receptor than did wild-type mice, while uncoupling was similar in control wild-type and KO mice. In addition, morphine reduced inhibitory transmission to a greater degree in CaMKIV-KO mice than in controls after chronic morphine exposure. Our results provide novel evidence for the role of CaMKIV in the development of opioid analgesic tolerance but not physical dependence.