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Published Online: 1 May 2018

Genetic Variant Q63R of Cannabinoid Receptor 2 Causes Differential ERK Phosphorylation in Human Immune Cells

Publication: Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers
Volume 22, Issue Number 5


Background: The cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2R) is primarily expressed in immune tissues and implicated in immune regulation. In models of inflammatory diseases, modulation of CB2R alters function of immune cells and affects the progression of disease. We therefore believe that CB2R modulation could be a promising therapy for inflammatory diseases. In humans, the nonsynonymous mutation Q63R, the most common variant of the CB2 receptor, has been found to be associated with multiple diseases, including idiopathic arthritis, obesity, and celiac diseases. However, it is not clear whether the Q63R variant indeed alters signaling of CB2R and whether the change in a specific signaling pathway contributes to the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases. Better understanding of the signaling downstream of CB2R in immune cells may provide a molecular base for better usage of CB2R modulators.
Methods: We studied the signaling caused by CB2R activation in cell lines and primary immune cells possessing Q63R variant.
Results: We found that activation of CB2R in immune cells by either an endogenous (2-AG) or a synthetic (CP5,940) ligand causes transient phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK). Phosphorylation of ERK in immune cells due to activation of CB2R is coupled to Gi protein. In human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, phosphorylation of ERK caused by CB2R activation is especially intense in B cells and T cells.
Conclusions: Activation of both CB2R variants 63Q and 63R causes phosphorylation of ERK. However, the signal intensity caused by 63R activation is relatively weaker than that caused by 63Q activation.

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Published In

cover image Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers
Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers
Volume 22Issue Number 5May 2018
Pages: 320 - 326
PubMed: 29694791


Published in print: May 2018
Published online: 1 May 2018
Published ahead of print: 25 April 2018


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Jingru Wang
Lilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC), Eli Lilly & Company, Shanghai, China.
Juehua Xu
Lilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC), Eli Lilly & Company, Shanghai, China.
Jie Liu
Lilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC), Eli Lilly & Company, Shanghai, China.
Huang Zhu
Lilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC), Eli Lilly & Company, Shanghai, China.
Yanyan Peng
Lilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC), Eli Lilly & Company, Shanghai, China.
Zhi-Ming Ding
Lilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC), Eli Lilly & Company, Shanghai, China.
Haiqing Hua
Lilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC), Eli Lilly & Company, Shanghai, China.


Address correspondence to:Haiqing Hua, PhDLilly China Research and Development Center (LCRDC)Eli Lilly & CompanyShanghai 201203China
E-mail: [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

All authors are employees and may hold stocks of Eli Lilly & Co. Eli Lilly & Co. provided support in the form of salaries for authors and funding for research materials, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the article. All relevant data are within the article.

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