Crosstalk between cdk5 and MEK-ERK signalling upon opioid receptor stimulation leads to upregulation of activator p25 and MEK1 inhibition in rat brain.

PMID 22537847


Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5) participates in opioid receptor signalling through complex molecular mechanisms. The acute effects of selective μ-(fentanyl) and δ-(SNC-80) opioid receptor agonists, as well as the chronic effects of morphine (the prototypic opiate agonist mainly acting at μ-receptors), modulating cdk5 and activators p35/p25 and their interactions with neurotoxic/apoptotic factors, dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein of 32kDa (DARPP-32) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) were quantified (Western Blot analyses) in the rat corpus striatum and/or cerebral cortex. To assess the involved mechanisms, MDL28170 was used to inhibit calpain activity and SL327 to disrupt MEK (ERK kinase)-ERK activation. Acute fentanyl (0.1mg/kg) and SNC-80 (10mg/kg) induced rapid (7-60 min) 2- to 4-fold increases of p25 content, without induction of cdk5/p25 pro-apoptotic c-Jun NH(2)-terminal protein kinase or aberrant cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose)-polymerase-1, a hallmark of apoptosis. In contrast, fentanyl and SNC-80 stimulated cdk5-mediated p-Thr75 DARPP-32 (+116-166%; PKA inhibition) and p-Thr286 MEK1 (+21-82%; MEK inactivation), and this latter effect resulted in uncoupling of MEK to ERK signals. Calpain inhibition with MDL28170 (cleavage of p35 to p25) attenuated fentanyl-induced p25 accumulation (-57%), but not the stimulation of p-Thr286 MEK1 or p-Thr75 DARPP-32. MEK-ERK inhibition with SL327 fully prevented fentanyl-induced p25 upregulation. Notably, chronic morphine treatment (10-100mg/kg for 6 days) also increased p25 content and p25/p35 ratio (and activated/inactivated MEK1) in rat brain cortex, which indicated that p25 upregulation persisted under the sustained stimulation of μ-opioid receptors. The results demonstrate that the acute stimulation of opioid receptors leads to upregulation of p25 activator through a MEK-ERK and calpain-dependent pathway, and to disruption of MEK-ERK signalling by a cdk5/p35-induced MEK1 inhibition. Moreover, the effects induced by the sustained stimulation of μ-receptors with morphine suggest the participation of cdk5/p25 complex in opiate-induced long-term neuroplasticity.

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SNC80, ≥98% (HPLC), solid