Trace amine associated receptor 1 signaling in activated lymphocytes

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2012 Dec;7(4):866-76. doi: 10.1007/s11481-011-9321-4. Epub 2011 Oct 29.


Although most research to date on Trace Amine Associated Receptor 1 (TAAR1) has focused on its role in the brain, it has been recognized since its discovery in 2001 that TAAR1 mRNA is expressed in peripheral tissues as well, suggesting that this receptor may play a role in non-neurological pathways. This study reports TAAR1 expression, signaling and functionality in rhesus monkey lymphocytes. We detected a high level of TAAR1 protein in immortalized rhesus monkey B cell lines and a significant upregulation of TAAR1 protein expression in rhesus monkey lymphocytes following PHA treatment. Through screening a wide range of signaling pathways for their upregulation following TAAR1 activation by its potent agonist methamphetamine, we identified two transcription factors, CREB and NFAT, which are commonly associated with immune activation. Furthermore, we observed a TAAR1-dependent phosphorylation of PKA and PKC following treatment with methamphetamine in transfected HEK293 cells, immortalized rhesus monkey B cells and PHA-activated rhesus monkey lymphocytes. Accordingly, the high levels of TAAR1 that we observed on lymphocytes are inducible and fully functional, capable of transmitting a signal likely via PKA and PKC activation following ligand binding. More importantly, an increase in TAAR1 receptor expression is concomitant with lymphocyte immune activation, suggesting a possible role for TAAR1 in the generation or regulation of an immune response. TAAR1 is emerging as a potential therapeutic target, with regard to its ability to modulate brain monoamines. The current data raises the possibility that TAAR1-targeted drugs may also alter immune function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology*
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Methamphetamine / pharmacology
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transfection


  • Benzamides
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • N-(3-ethoxyphenyl)-4-pyrrolidin-1-yl-3-trifluoromethylbenzamide
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Methamphetamine
  • Luciferases
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Trace amine-associated receptor 1