Functional characterization of putative cholesterol binding sequence (CRAC) in human type-1 cannabinoid receptor.J Neurochem. 2011 Mar; 116(5):858-65.JN
Endocannabinoid signaling modulates a variety of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, mainly through the activation of type-1 and type-2 (CB(1)R and CB(2)R) cannabinoid receptors. CB(1)R is negatively regulated by membrane cholesterol, while CB(2)R is unaffected. Here, we identified in the transmembrane helix 7 of human CBRs a consensus sequence already known in other proteins as cholesterol recognition/interaction amino acid sequence and consensus pattern. As this motif is different in the two CBR subtypes, we mutated lysine 402 of CB(1)R into glycine, to obtain a cholesterol recognition/interaction amino acid sequence and consensus similar to that of CB(2)R. Both mutated and wild-type receptors were transiently expressed in human neuronal SH-SY5Y cells, and their localization and functioning were investigated using biochemical assays and immunofluorescence labelling. We found a reduced propensity of the mutant CB(1)R to reside in cholesterol-rich microdomains and, by means of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching analysis, we documented its loss of sensitivity to increased membrane cholesterol content. These results seem to uncover the existence of a new structural determinant in cannabinoid receptors, that is likely implicated in directing their interaction with cholesterol-rich microdomains of cell membranes.