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J Biol Chem. 2011 Oct 28;286(43):37414-28. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.287649. Epub 2011 Sep 9.

Heteromultimerization of cannabinoid CB(1) receptor and orexin OX(1) receptor generates a unique complex in which both protomers are regulated by orexin A.

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  • 1Molecular Pharmacology Group, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK.


Agonist-induced internalization was observed for both inducible and constitutively expressed forms of the cannabinoid CB(1) receptor. These were also internalized by the peptide orexin A, which has no direct affinity for the cannabinoid CB(1) receptor, but only when the orexin OX(1) receptor was co-expressed along with the cannabinoid CB(1) receptor. This effect of orexin A was concentration-dependent and blocked by OX(1) receptor antagonists. Moreover, the ability of orexin A to internalize the CB(1) receptor was also blocked by CB(1) receptor antagonists. Remarkably, orexin A was substantially more potent in producing internalization of the CB(1) receptor than in causing internalization of the bulk OX(1) receptor population, and this was true in cells in which the CB(1) receptor was maintained at a constant level, whereas levels of OX(1) could be varied and vice versa. Both co-immunoprecipitation and cell surface, homogenous time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer based on covalent labeling of N-terminal "SNAP" and "CLIP" tags present in the extracellular N-terminal domain of the receptors confirmed the capacity of these two receptors to heteromultimerize. These studies confirm the capacity of the CB(1) and OX(1) receptors to interact directly and demonstrate that this complex has unique regulatory characteristics. The higher potency of the agonist orexin A to regulate the CB(1)-OX(1) heteromer compared with the OX(1)-OX(1) homomer present in the same cells and the effects of CB(1) receptor antagonists on the function of orexin A suggest an interplay between these two systems that may modulate appetite, feeding, and wakefulness.

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