Met-enkephalin 3D structure, alpha-carbons shown as balls and labeled by residue.[1]
Symbol PENK
Entrez 5179
HUGO 8831
OMIM 131330
RefSeq NM_006211
UniProt P01210
Other data
Locus Chr. 8 q23-q24

An enkephalin (occasionally spelt encephalin) is a pentapeptide involved in regulating nociception in the body. The enkephalins are termed endogenous ligands, as they are internally derived and bind to the body's opioid receptors. Discovered in 1975, two forms of enkephalin were discovered, one containing leucine ("leu"), and the other containing methionine ("met"). Both are products of the proenkephalin gene.[2]

Endogenous opioid peptides

There are three well-characterized families of opioid peptides produced by the body: enkephalins, endorphins, and dynorphins. The met-enkephalin peptide sequence is coded for by the enkephalin gene; the leu-enkephalin peptide sequence is coded for by both the enkephalin gene and the dynorphin gene.[3] The proopiomelanocortin gene (POMC) also contains the met-enkephalin sequence on the N-terminus of beta-endorphin, but the endorphin peptide is not processed into enkephalin.

Enkephalin receptor

Main article: Opioid receptor

The receptors for enkephalin are the delta opioid receptors and mu opioid receptors. Opioid receptors are a group of G-protein-coupled receptors, with other opioids as ligands as well. The other endogenous opioids are dynorphins (that bind to kappa receptors), endorphins (mu receptors), endomorphins, and nociceptin/orphanin FQ. The opioid receptors are ~40% identical to somatostatin receptors (SSTRs).

See also


  1. PDB: 1plx; Marcotte I, Separovic F, Auger M, Gagné SM (March 2004). "A multidimensional 1H NMR investigation of the conformation of methionine-enkephalin in fast-tumbling bicelles". Biophys. J. 86 (3): 1587–600. Bibcode:2004BpJ....86.1587M. doi:10.1016/S0006-3495(04)74226-5. PMC 1303993Freely accessible. PMID 14990485.
  2. Noda M, Teranishi Y, Takahashi H, Toyosato M, Notake M, Nakanishi S, Numa S (June 1982). "Isolation and structural organization of the human preproenkephalin gene". Nature. 297 (5865): 431–4. Bibcode:1982Natur.297..431N. doi:10.1038/297431a0. PMID 6281660.
  3. Opioid peptides: Molecular pharmacology, biosynthesis and analysis, R.S. Rapaka and R. L. Hawks (editors) in a National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Monograph (#70), 1986.

External links

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