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Cell Signal. 2006 Mar;18(3):285-93. Epub 2005 Jun 23.

Activation of muscarinic M4 receptor augments NGF-induced pro-survival Akt signaling in PC12 cells.

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Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Neuroscience Center, Biotechnology Research Institute, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.


Survival or death of neurons during development is mediated by the integration of a diverse array of signal transduction cascades that are controlled by the availability and acquisition of neurotrophic factors and agonists acting at G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Recent studies have demonstrated that GPCRs can modulate signals elicited by receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) and vice versa. Here, we examined the activity of pro-survival Akt kinase, in response to stimulation by muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) and co-activation with the nerve growth factor (NGF) receptor in PC12 cells endogenously expressing Gi-coupled M4 mAChR and Gq-coupled M1 and M5 mAChRs. Western blotting analysis using a phosphospecific anti-Akt antibody revealed a dose- and time-dependent increase in Akt phosphorylation in cells stimulated with mAChR specific agonist carbachol (CCh). Co-stimulation with CCh and NGF resulted in augmentation of Akt activity in a pertussis toxin (PTX)-sensitive manner, suggesting that M4 mAChR, but not M1 and M5 mAChRs, was associated with this synergistic Akt activation. The use of transducin as a Gbetagamma scavenger indicated that Gbetagamma subunits rather than Galphai/o acted as the signal transducer. Additional experiments showed that CCh treatment augmented NGF-induced phosphorylation and degradation of the Akt-regulated translation regulator tuberin. This augmentation was also inhibited by PTX pre-treatment or overexpression of transducin. Finally, co-stimulation of PC12 cells with CCh and NGF resulted in enhancement of cell survival. This is the first study that demonstrates the augmentation effect between M4 mAChR and NGF receptor, and the regulatory role of mAChR on tuberin.

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