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Cannabinoid CB1 receptors transactivate multiple receptor tyrosine kinases and regulate serine/threonine kinases to activate ERK in neuronal cells

Dalton, GD;Howlett, AC;

Signalling networks that regulate the progression of cannabinoid CB(1) receptor-mediated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation in neurons are poorly understood. We investigated the cellular mechanisms involved in CB(1) receptor-stimulated ERK phosphorylation in a neuronal cell model. Murine N18TG2 neuronal cells were used to analyse the effect of specific protein kinase and phosphatase inhibitors on CB(1) receptor-stimulated ERK phosphorylation. The LI-COR In Cell Western assay and immunoblotting were used to measure ERK phosphorylation. The time-course of CB(1) receptor-stimulated ERK activation occurs in three phases that are regulated by distinct cellular mechanisms in N18TG2 cells. Phase I (0-5min) maximal ERK phosphorylation is mediated by CB(1) receptor-stimulated ligand-independent transactivation of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Phase I requires G(i/o) subunit-stimulated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activation and Src kinase activation and is modulated by inhibition of cAMP-activated protein kinase A (PKA) levels. Src kinase activation is regulated by the protein tyrosine phosphatases 1B and Shp1. The Phase II (5-10min) rapid decline in ERK phosphorylation involves PKA inhibition and serine/threonine phosphatase PP1/PP2A activation. The Phase III (>10min) plateau in ERK phosphorylation is mediated by CB(1) receptor-stimulated, ligand-independent, transactivation of multiple RTKs. The complex expression of CB(1) receptor-stimulated ERK activation provides cellular selectivity, modulation of sensitivity to agonists, and coincidence detection with RTK signalling. RTK and PKA pathways may provide routes to novel CB(1) -based therapeutic interventions in the treatment of addictive disorders or neurodegenerative diseases. LINKED ARTICLES This article is part of a themed section on Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine. To view the other articles in this section visit To view Part I of Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine visit