Muscarinic activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase in PC12 cells

Jennifer L. Berkeley, Allan I. Levey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) activate many downstream signaling pathways, some of which can lead to mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation and activation. MAPKs play roles in regulating cell growth, differentiation, and synaptic plasticity. Here, the activation of MAPK was examined in PC12 cells endogenously expressing mAChRs. Western blot analysis using a phosphospecific MAPK antibody revealed a dose-dependent and atropine-sensitive increase in MAPK phosphorylation in cells stimulated with carbachol (CCh). The maximal response occurred after 5 min and was rapidly reduced to baseline. To investigate the receptors responsible for CCh activation of MAPK in PC12 cells, the mAChR subtypes present were determined using RT-PCR and immunoprecipitation. RT-PCR was used to amplify fragments of the appropriate sizes for m1, m4, and m5, and the identities of the bands were confirmed with restriction digests. Immunoprecipitation using subtype- specific antibodies showed that ~95% of the expressed receptors were m4, whereas the remaining ~5% were m1 and m5. A highly specific m1 toxin completely blocked MAPK phosphorylation in response to CCh stimulation. The mAChR-induced MAPK activation was abolished by protein kinase C down- regulation and partially inhibited by pertussis toxin. Although m1 represents a small proportion of the total mAChR population, pharmacological evidence suggests that m1 is responsible for MAPK activation in PC12 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-493
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 7 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Acetylcholine
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • Muscarinic activation
  • PC12 cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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