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Eur J Biochem. 1996 May 1;237(3):704-11.

Signaling pathway associated with stimulation of CB2 peripheral cannabinoid receptor. Involvement of both mitogen-activated protein kinase and induction of Krox-24 expression.

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Sanofi Recherche, Department of Immunopharmacology, Montpellier, France.


Cannabinoids, known for their psychoactive effects, also possess immunomodulatory properties. The recent isolation and cloning of the G-protein-coupled peripheral cannabinoid receptor (CB2), mainly expressed in immune tissues, have provided molecular tools to determine how cannabinoid compounds may mediate immunomodulation. We here investigated the CB2 signaling properties using stably transfected Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing human CB2. First, we showed that stimulation by a cannabinoid agonist activated mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase in time- and dose-dependent manners. The rank order of potency for MAP kinase activation of cannabinoid agonists correlated well with their binding capacities. Second, we demonstrated that, following MAP kinase activation, cannabinoids induced the expression of the growth-related gene Krox-24, also known as NGFI-A, zif/268, and egr-1. Pertussis toxin completely prevented both MAP kinase activation and Krox-24 induction, even more these responses appeared to be dependent of specific protein kinase C isoforms and independent of inhibition of adenylyl cyclase. A similar coupling of CB2 to a mitogenic pathway and to the regulation of Krox-24 expression was also observed in human promyelocytic cells HL60. Taken together, these findings provide evidence for a functional role of the CB2 receptor in gene induction mediated by the MAP kinase network.

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