Soon after internalization delta opioid receptors (DOPrs) are committed to the degradation path by G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-associated binding protein. Here we provide evidence that this classical post-endocytic itinerary may be rectified by downstream sorting decisions which allow DOPrs to regain to the membrane after having reached late endosomes (LE). The LE sorting mechanism involved ESCRT accessory protein Alix and the TIP47/Rab9 retrieval complex which supported translocation of the receptor to the TGN, from where it subsequently regained the cell membrane. Preventing DOPrs from completing this itinerary precipitated acute analgesic tolerance to the agonist DPDPE, supporting the relevance of this recycling path in maintaining the analgesic response by this receptor. Taken together, these findings reveal a post-endocytic itinerary where GPCRs that have been sorted for degradation can still recycle to the membrane.
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