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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2002 Oct 15;106(1-2):88-93.

Over-expression of alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor induces sustained ERK phosphorylation and N-cadherin expression in PC12 cells.

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Department of Neurology, Iwate Medical University, Uchimaru 19-1, Morioka 020, Japan.


Over-expression of alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (alpha7nAChR) in PC12 cells, independent of agonistic stimulation, induces marked neurite outgrowth and high capacity for migration and adherence (differentiation-like transformation), and increases tolerance against cell damage. In the present study, we investigated the effects of alpha7nAChR over-expression and nicotine on ERK phosphorylation and N-cadherin expression by comparing 3 groups of cells: PC12 cells transfected with alpha7 subunit cDNA (alpha7pCMV cells); untransfected PC12 cells exposed to 50 microM nicotine (PC12 cells+nicotine); and PC12 cells transfected with vector only (pCMV cells). alpha7 subunit protein was detected in alpha7pCMV cells at 24 to 72 h after transfection. alpha7pCMV cells exhibited sustained expression of phospho-ERKs (p42 and p44) at 24 to 72 h after transfection, and differentiation-like transformation at 72 h after transfection. PC12 cells+nicotine exhibited transient expression of phospho-ERKs at 48 h after addition of nicotine, but did not exhibit differentiation-like transformation. Neither ERK phosphorylation nor differentiation-like transformation was observed in pCMV cells. Expression of surface N-cadherin increased at 72 h after transfection on alpha7pCMV cells, but did not increase on PC12 cells+nicotine or pCMV cells. These findings suggest that, in PC12 cells, over-expression of alpha7nAChR induces sustained activation of ERK, which probably promotes N-cadherin expression and differentiation-like transformation.

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