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Cell Tissue Res. 2006 Nov;326(2):541-51. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

Adrenoceptors and signal transduction in neurons.

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Institut für Exp. und Klin. Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Freiburg, Albertstrasse 25, 79104 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.


The adrenergic system is an essential regulator of neuronal, endocrine, cardiovascular, vegetative, and metabolic functions. The endogenous catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine activate G-protein-coupled receptors to transmit their signal across the plasma membrane. These adrenoceptors can be divided into three different groups: the alpha(1)-receptors (alpha(1A), alpha(1B), alpha(1D)), alpha(2)-receptors (alpha(2A), alpha(2B), alpha(2C)), and beta-receptors (beta(1), beta(2), beta(3)). This review summarizes recent findings in the field of adrenoceptor signaling in neurons and includes a discussion of receptor-associated proteins, receptor dimerization, subcellular trafficking, and fluorescence optical methods for studying the kinetics of adrenergic signaling. Spatio-temporal imaging may become an important future tool for identifying the physiological significance of these complex signaling mechanisms in vivo. Gene-targeted mouse models carrying deletions in alpha(2)-adrenoceptor have provided detailed insights into specific neuronal functions of the three alpha(2)-receptor subtypes.

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