The key participants in G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling are the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascades. The mechanisms involved in the activation of the above cascades by GPCRs are not fully elucidated. The prototypical GPCR is the receptor for gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRHR), which serves as a key regulator of the reproductive system. Here, we expressed GnRHR in COS7 cells and found that GnRHR transmits its signals to MAPKs mainly via Gαi and the EGF receptor, without the involvement of Hb-EGF or PKCs. The main pathway that leads to JNK activation downstream of the EGF receptor involves a sequential activation of c-Src and PI3K. ERK activation by GnRHR is mediated by the EGF receptor, which activates Ras either directly or via c-Src. Beside the main pathway, the dissociated Gβγ and β-arrestin may initiate additional (albeit minor) pathways that lead to MAPK activation in the transfected COS7 cells. The pathways detected are significantly different from those in other GnRHR-bearing cells, indicating that GnRH can utilize various signaling mechanisms for MAPK activation. The unique pathway elucidated here, in which c-Src and PI3K are sequentially activated downstream of the EGF receptor, may serve as a prototype of signaling mechanisms by GnRHR and additional GPCRs in various cell types.
- GnRH: GPCR