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Cell Signal. 2006 Aug;18(8):1279-86. Epub 2005 Nov 21.

Stimulation of oncogenic metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 in melanoma cells activates ERK1/2 via PKCepsilon.

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Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research, Department of Chemical Biology, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, 164 Frelinghuysen Rd., Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1, formerly mGluR1) is a G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) normally expressed and functional in the central nervous system. Studies of our transgenic mouse melanoma model (TG-3) revealed that ectopic expression of Grm1 in melanocytes is sufficient to induce melanoma development in vivo [P.M. Pollock, K. Cohen-Solal, R. Sood, J. Namkoong, J.J. Martino, A. Koganti, H. Zhu, C. Robbins, I. Makalowska, S.S. Shin, Y. Marin, K.G. Roberts, L.M. Yudt, A. Chen, J. Cheng, A. Incao, H.W. Pinkett, C.L. Graham, K. Dunn, S.M. Crespo-Carbone, K.R. Mackason, K.B. Ryan, D. Sinsimer, J. Goydos, K.R. Reuhl, M. Eckhaus, P.S. Meltzer, W.J. Pavan, J.M. Trent, S. Chen, Nat. Genet. 34 (2003) 108-112.]. We have established and characterized several cell lines in vitro from independent mouse melanoma tumors [Y.E. Marín, J. Namkoong, S.S. Shin, J. Raines, K. Degenhardt, E. White, S. Chen, Neuropharmacol. 49 (2005) 70-79.]. These cell lines are useful tools in the studies of signaling events that may be mediated by Grm1 in transformed melanocytes. Here we show that stimulation of Grm1 by l-quisqualate, a group I metabotropic glutamate receptor agonist, results in inositol triphosphate (IP3) accumulation, and the activation of ERK1/2 in these cell lines. IP3 accumulation and ERK1/2 activation were inhibited by pretreatment of the tumor cells with a Grm1-specific antagonist (LY367385) or by dominant negative mutants of Grm1, demonstrating the specificity of these events. We also show that ERK1/2 activation by Grm1 was PKC-dependent, but cAMP and PKA-independent. PKCepsilon was shown to play a pivotal role in Grm1-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Insights into the signaling cascades mediated by Grm1 in melanoma cells may aid in the identification of key molecular targets for the future design of combined therapies for melanoma.

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