The G alpha(o/i)-coupled cannabinoid receptor-mediated neurite outgrowth involves Rap regulation of Src and Stat3

J Biol Chem. 2005 Sep 30;280(39):33426-34. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M502812200. Epub 2005 Jul 26.


The study of the signaling pathways regulating neurite outgrowth in culture is important because of their potential role in neuronal differentiation in vivo. We have previously shown that the G alpha(o/i)-coupled CB1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1R) activates Rap1 to induce neurite outgrowth. G alpha(o/i) also activates the Src-Stat3 pathway. Here, we studied the relationship between the G alpha(o/i)-Rap1 and Src-Stat3 pathways and the role of these signaling pathways in CB1R-mediated neurite outgrowth in Neuro-2A cells. The CB1 agonist HU-210 induced pertussis toxin-sensitive Src and Stat3 phosphorylation. Dominant negative (DN) mutants of Src and Stat3 blocked CB1R-induced neurite outgrowth. Constitutively active Rap 1B and Ral-activated Src and CB1R-induced Src phosphorylation was inhibited by Rap1-DN and Ral-DN, indicating that both Rap1 and Ral mediate downstream signaling from G alpha(o/i) for Src activation. Rap1-activated Ral and Ral-DN blocked Rap-induced Src phosphorylation. G alpha(o)-induced Stat3 activation was blocked by Ral-DN, whereas v-Src-induced Stat3 activation was not inhibited by Ral-DN, indicating that the CB1R, through G alpha(o), mediates the sequential activation of Rap1 to Ral to Src to Stat3 in Neuro-2A cells. Downstream of Src, the CB1R also activated Rac1 and JNK, which enhanced CBR1-mediated Stat3 activation. Rac-DN blocked CB1R-induced activation of JNK. Pharmacological inhibition of JNK blocked Src and CB1R activation of Stat3, indicating that Rac and JNK are also involved in CB1R-mediated neurite outgrowth. Overall, this study demonstrated that G alpha(o/i)-coupled CB1R triggers neurite outgrowth in Neuro-2A through the activation of a signaling network containing two pathways that bifurcate at Src and converge at Stat3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dronabinol / analogs & derivatives
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / chemistry
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurites / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • rap1 GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • src-Family Kinases / genetics
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism*


  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Dronabinol
  • src-Family Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go
  • rap1 GTP-Binding Proteins
  • HU 211