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Mol Pharmacol. 2005 May;67(5):1697-704. Epub 2005 Feb 14.

Concurrent stimulation of cannabinoid CB1 and dopamine D2 receptors enhances heterodimer formation: a mechanism for receptor cross-talk?

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


Dopamine and endogenous cannabinoids display complex interactions in the basal ganglia. One possible level of interaction is between CB1 cannabinoid and D2 dopamine receptors. Here, we demonstrate that a regulated association of CB1 and D2 receptors profoundly alters CB1 signaling. This provides the first evidence that CB1/D2 receptor complexes exist, are dynamic, and are agonist-regulated with highest complex levels detected when both receptors are stimulated with subsaturating concentrations of agonist. The consequence of this interaction is a differential preference for signaling through a "nonpreferred" G protein. In this case, D2 receptor activation, simultaneously with CB1 receptor stimulation, results in the receptor complex coupling to G alpha s protein in preference to the expected G alpha i/o proteins. The result of this interaction is an increase in the second messenger cAMP, reversing an initial synergistic inhibition of adenylyl cyclase activity seen at subthreshold concentrations of cannabinoid agonist. Additionally, a pertussis toxin insensitive component in the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 kinases by the cannabinoid agonist CP 55,940 [(1R,3R,4R)-3-[2-hydroxy-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)phenyl]-4-(3-hydroxypropyl)cyclohexan-1-ol] is revealed in cells stably expressing both CB1 and D2 receptors. Thus, concurrent receptor stimulation promotes a heterooligomeric receptor complex and an apparent shift of CB1 signaling from a pertussis toxin-sensitive inhibition to a partly pertussis toxin-insensitive stimulation of adenylyl cyclase and ERK 1/2 phosphorylation.

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