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Biochem J. Oct 1, 1991; 279(Pt 1): 129–134.
PMCID: PMC1151556

Molecular cloning of a human cannabinoid receptor which is also expressed in testis.


A cDNA clone encoding a receptor protein which presents all the characteristics of a guanine-nucleotide-binding protein (G-protein)-coupled receptor was isolated from a human brain stem cDNA library. The probe used (HGMP08) was a 600 bp DNA fragment amplified by a low-stringency PCR, using human genomic DNA as template and degenerate oligonucleotide primers corresponding to conserved sequences amongst the known G-protein-coupled receptors. The deduced amino acid sequence encodes a protein of 472 residues which shares 97.3% identity with the rat cannabinoid receptor cloned recently [Matsuda, Lolait, Brownstein, Young & Bronner (1990) Nature (London) 346, 561-564]. Abundant transcripts were detected in the brain, as expected, but lower amounts were also found in the testis. The same probe was used to screen a human testis cDNA library. The cDNA clones obtained were partially sequenced, demonstrating the identity of the cannabinoid receptors expressed in both tissues. Specific binding of the synthetic cannabinoid ligand [3H]CP55940 was observed on membranes from Cos-7 cells transfected with the recombinant receptor clone. In stably transfected CHO-K1 cell lines, cannabinoid agonists mediated a dose-dependent and stereoselective inhibition of forskolin-induced cyclic AMP accumulation. The ability to express the human cannabinoid receptor in mammalian cells should help in developing more selective drugs, and should facilitate the search for the endogenous cannabinoid ligand(s).

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