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J Leukoc Biol. 2000 Feb;67(2):259-66.

AP-1 activity is negatively regulated by cannabinol through inhibition of its protein components, c-fos and c-jun.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, USA.


Regulation of the activator protein-1 (AP-1) complex is very intricate because it involves phosphorylation state, protein-protein, and protein-DNA interactions. In these studies, the regulation of AP-1 activity, with emphasis on c-fos and c-jun regulation, was investigated using cannabinol (CBN) in primary mouse splenocytes in vitro. Cannabinoid compounds exhibit immunosuppressive actions that are putatively mediated through Gi-protein coupled receptors that negatively regulate adenylate cyclase. However, recent studies suggest that cannabinoids modulate other signaling cascades. Indeed, we demonstrate that CBN inhibited binding to AP-1-containing sites from the interleukin-2 promoter. This inhibition of binding was, in part, due to decreased nuclear expression of c-fos and c-jun. We further determined that the effects of CBN were due to posttranslational modifications of these phosphoproteins and showed that CBN inhibited the activation of ERK MAP kinases. Thus, cannabinoid-induced immunosuppression involves disruption of the ERK signaling cascade.

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