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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

An optimized approach to study endocannabinoid signaling: evidence against constitutive activity of rat brain adenosine A1 and cannabinoid CB1 receptors.

At nanomolar concentrations, SR141716 and AM251 act as specific and selective antagonists of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor. In the micromolar range, these compounds were shown to inhibit basal G-protein activity, and this is often interpreted to implicate constitutive activity of the CB1 receptors in native tissue. We show here, using [35S]GTPgammaS binding techniques, that micromolar concentrations of SR141716 and AM251 inhibit basal G-protein activity in rat cerebellar membranes, but only in conditions where tonic adenosine A1 receptor signaling is not eliminated. Unlike lipophilic A1 receptor antagonists (potency order DPCPX>>N-0840 approximately cirsimarin>caffeine), adenosine deaminase ( ADA) was not fully capable in eliminating basal A1 receptor-dependent G-protein activity. Importantly, all antagonists reduced basal signal to the same extent (20%), and the response evoked by the inverse agonist DPCPX was not reversed by the neutral antagonist N-0840. These data indicate that rat brain A1 receptors are not constitutively active, but that an ADA-resistant adenosine pool is responsible for tonic A1 receptor activity in brain membranes. SR141716 and AM251, at concentrations fully effective in reversing CB1-mediated responses (10-6 m), did not reduce basal G-protein activity, indicating that CB1 receptors are not constitutively active in these preparations.4 At higher concentrations (1-2.5 x 10-5 m), both antagonists reduced basal G-protein activity in control and ADA-treated membranes, but had no effect when A1 receptor signaling was blocked with DPCPX. Moreover, the CB1 antagonists right-shifted A1 agonist dose-response curves without affecting maximal responses, suggesting competitive mode of antagonist action. The CB1 antagonists did not affect muscarinic acetylcholine or GABAB receptor signaling. When further optimizing G-protein activation assay for the labile endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), we show, by using HPLC, that pretreatment of cerebellar membranes with methyl arachidonoyl fluorophosphonate (MAFP) fully prevented enzymatic degradation of 2-AG and concomitantly enhanced the potency of 2-AG. In contrast to previous claims, MAFP exhibited no antagonist activity at the CB1 receptor.6 The findings establish an optimized method with improved signal-to-noise ratio to assess endocannabinoid-dependent G-protein activity in brain membranes, under assay conditions where basal adenosinergic tone and enzymatic degradation of 2-AG are fully eliminated.[1]


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