Nicotine-induced phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase and CREB in PC12h cells


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Hitoshi Nakayama, Department of Pharmacology, Nara Medical University, 840 Shijo-Chou, Kashihara, Nara 634–8521, Japan. E-mail:


We have investigated mechanisms of nicotine-induced phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (p42/44 MAP kinase, ERK) and cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) in PC12h cells. Nicotine transiently induced ERK phosphorylation at more than 1 µm. The maximal level of nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation was lower than that of the membrane depolarization induced and, to a great extent, the nerve growth factor (NGF)-induced ERK phosphorylation. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) α7 subunit-selective inhibitors had no significant effect on nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation. l-Type voltage-sensitive calcium channel antagonists inhibited nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation. Calcium imaging experiments showed that α7-containing nAChR subtypes were functional at 1 µm of nicotine in the nicotine-induced calcium influx, and non-α7 nAChRs were prominent in the Ca2+ influx at 50 µm of nicotine. An expression of dominant inhibitory Ras inhibited nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation. A calmodulin antagonist, a CaM kinase inhibitor, a MAP kinase kinase inhibitor inhibited nicotine-induced ERK and CREB phosphorylation. The time course of the phosphorylation of CREB induced by nicotine was similar to that of ERK induced by nicotine. These results suggest that non-α7 nAChRs are involved in nicotine-induced ERK phosphorylation through CaM kinase and the Ras-MAP kinase cascade and most of the nicotine-induced CREB phosphorylation is mediated by the ERK phosphorylation in PC12h cells.