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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2006 Dec;319(3):1032-42. Epub 2006 Sep 6.

Differential responses of corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor type 1 variants to protein kinase C phosphorylation.

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  • 1Endocrinology and Metabolism, Division of Clinical Sciences, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.


Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) regulates diverse biological functions in mammals, through activation of two types of specific G protein-coupled receptors that are expressed as multiple mRNA spliced variants. In most cells, the type 1alpha CRH receptor (CRH-R1alpha) preferentially activates the G(s)-adenylyl cyclase signaling cascade. CRH-R1alpha-mediated signaling activity is impaired by insertion of 29 amino acids in the first intracellular loop, a sequence modification that is characteristic of the human-specific CRH-R1beta variant. In various tissues, CRH signaling events are regulated by protein kinase C (PKC). The CRH receptors contain multiple putative PKC phosphorylation sites that represent potential targets. To investigate this, we expressed recombinant CRH-R1alpha or CRH-R1beta in human embryonic kidney 293 cells and analyzed signaling events after PKC activation. Agonist (oxytocin) or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-induced activation of PKC led to phosphorylation of both CRH-R1 variants. However, CRH-R1alpha and CRH-R1beta exhibited different functional responses to PKC-induced phosphorylation, with only the CRH-R1beta susceptible to cAMP signaling desensitization. This was associated with a significant decrease of accessible CRH-R1beta receptors expressed on the cell surface. Both CRH-R1 variants were susceptible to homologous desensitization and internalization following treatment with CRH; however, PKC activation increased internalization of CRH-R1beta but not CRH-R1alpha in a beta-arrestin-independent manner. Our findings indicate that CRH-R1alpha and -R1beta exhibit differential responses to PKC-induced phosphorylation, and this might represent an important mechanism for functional regulation of CRH signaling in target cells.

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