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J Biol Chem. 1992 Nov 25;267(33):24045-52.

Factors determining the specificity of signal transduction by guanine nucleotide-binding protein-coupled receptors. III. Coupling of alpha 2-adrenergic receptor subtypes in a cell type-specific manner.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425.


A number of diverse signaling pathways can be activated by G-protein coupled receptors. However, the factors involved in selection of a particular transduction pathway by a single receptor are not well understood. We are attempting to address this issue utilizing the alpha 2-adrenergic receptor (alpha 2-AR) subfamily as a representative model system. In this report, we demonstrate that the cellular response mediated by an alpha 2-AR subtype is cell-specific and thus depends on its environment. Receptor coupling to adenylylcyclase was determined following stable expression of the rat alpha 2B- and alpha 2D-AR subtypes in three functionally distinct cell types (NIH-3T3 fibroblasts, DDT1 MF-2 smooth muscle cells, and the pheochromocytoma cell line PC-12). When the receptor subtype gene is expressed in NIH-3T3 and DDT1 MF-2 cells, receptor activation inhibits basal and forskolin-induced increases in cellular cAMP. However, in PC-12 transfectants the same receptor subtype actually increases basal cAMP and augments the effect of forskolin. Potentiation of the forskolin effect in PC-12 cells is insensitive to pertussis toxin but is blocked by loading the cells with BAPTA (bis-(o-aminophenoxy)-ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid) which minimizes changes in Ca2+i by calcium chelation. These data and the functional demonstration of a Ca2+/calmodulin-sensitive adenylylcyclase in PC-12 but not NIH-3T3 and DDT1 MF-2 cells, suggests that the cell-specific effects of epinephrine are due to receptor coupling to both different G-proteins and types of adenylylcyclase.

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