Nicotine-induced phosphorylation of ERK in mouse primary cortical neurons: evidence for involvement of glutamatergic signaling and CaMKII.

Steiner, Rebecca C.; Heath, Christopher J. and Picciotto, Marina R. (2007). Nicotine-induced phosphorylation of ERK in mouse primary cortical neurons: evidence for involvement of glutamatergic signaling and CaMKII. Journal of Neurochemistry, 103(2) pp. 666–78.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2007.04799.x

Abstract

Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) is activated in vivo in a number of brain areas by nicotine and other drugs of abuse. Here we show that nicotine stimulation of cultured mouse cortical neurons leads to a robust induction of ERK phosphorylation that is dependent on nicotine concentration and duration of exposure. Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II activity is necessary for nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation and neither cAMP-dependent protein kinase or protein kinase C appear to be involved. Activity of glutamate receptors, L-type voltage-gated calcium channels, and voltage-gated sodium channels are also required for nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation. Nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation was inhibited by high concentrations of mecamylamine, however it was not blocked by other broad nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) inhibitors (including hexamethonium and chlorisondamine) or nAChR subtype selective inhibitors (such as methyllycaconitine, alpha-bungarotoxin, dihydro-beta-erythroidine, and α-conotoxin Au1B). In accord with these pharmacological results, nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation was normal in primary cultures made from β2 or α7 nAChR subunit knockout mice. The α3/beta4 nAChR agonist cytisine did not induce ERK phosphorylation suggesting that α3/β4 nAChRs were not involved in this process. Taken together, these data define a necessary role for glutamatergic signaling and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation in cortical neurons and do not provide evidence for the involvement of classical nAChRs.

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