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

Eur J Biochem. 1996 May 1;237(3):704-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-1033.1996.0704p.x.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • CHO Cells
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immediate-Early Proteins*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / drug effects
  • Receptors, Drug / genetics
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Cannabinoids
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • EGR1 protein, human
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1
  • Immediate-Early Proteins
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Transcription Factors
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins