Modulation of CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor Functions after a Long-Term Exposure to Agonist or Inverse Agonist in the Chinese Hamster Ovary Cell Expression System

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J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., 287(3), 1038-1047 (1998) .


We have investigated the adaptive changes of the human central cannabinoid receptor (CB1) stably expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO-CB1), after agonist (CP 55,940) or selective CB1 inverse agonist (SR 141716) treatment. CB1 receptor density and affinity constant as measured by binding assays with both tritiated ligands remained essentially unchanged after varying period exposure of CHO-CB1 cells (from 30 min to 72 hr) to saturating concentrations of CP 55,940 or SR 141716. However, using a C-myc-tagged version of the CB1 receptor, FACS analysis and confocal microscopy studies on CB1 expression indicated that the agonist promoted a disappearance of cell surface receptor although inverse agonist increased its cell surface density. Taken together these results suggest that 1) agonist induces internalization of the receptor into a cellular compartment that would be still accessible to both the hydrophobic ligands CP 55,940 or SR 141716; 2) inverse-agonist promotes externalization of the receptor from an intracellular preexisting pool to the cell surface. In parallel, we also investigated the associated effects of CP 55,940 and SR 141716 on CB1 receptor-coupled second messengers. We showed that preexposure of cells to CP 55,940 induced a rapid desensitization of the CB1 to the agonist response. The ability of CP 55,940 to inhibit the forskolin-stimulated adenylyl cyclase and to activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase activity was dramatically reduced. By striking contrast, SR 141716 pretreatment of CHO-CB1 cells not only had no significant effect on the potency of CP 55,940 to inhibit the forskolin-stimulated adenylyl cyclase but also induced a significant enhancement of the CP 55,940 ability to stimulate the mitogen-activated protein kinase activity. These results suggest that the modulation of the number of cell surface receptor could lead to functional desensitization or sensitization of the CB1 receptors.

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