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J Neurochem. 2005 Jun;93(6):1603-15.

Characterization of serotonin 5-HT2C receptor signaling to extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2.

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Department of Pharmacology and Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Serotonin 5-HT2C receptors (5-HT(2C)Rs) are almost exclusively expressed in the CNS, and implicated in disorders such as obesity, depression, and schizophrenia. The present study investigated the mechanisms governing the coupling of the 5-HT(2C)R to the extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) 1/2, using a Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell line stably expressing the receptor at levels comparable to those found in the brain. Using the non-RNA-edited isoform of the 5-HT(2C)R, constitutive ERK1/2 phosphorylation was observed and found to be modulated by full, partial and inverse agonists. Interestingly, agonist-directed trafficking of receptor stimulus was also observed when comparing effects on phosphoinositide accumulation and intracellular Ca2+ elevation to ERK1/2 phosphorylation, whereby the agonists, [+/-]-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) and quipazine, showed reversal of efficacy between the phosphoinositide/Ca2+ pathways, on the one hand, and the ERK1/2 pathway on the other. Subsequent molecular characterization found that 5-HT-stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation in this cellular background requires phospholipase D, protein kinase C, and activation of the Raf/MEK/ERK module, but is independent of both receptor- and non-receptor tyrosine kinases, phospholipase C, phosphoinositide 3-kinase, and endocytosis. Our findings underscore the potential for exploiting pathway-selective receptor states in the differential modulation of signaling pathways that play prominent roles in normal and abnormal neuronal signaling.

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