Stimulation of Gq-coupled acetylcholine muscarinic receptors leads to proliferation of astroglial cells, but the signal transduction pathway(s) that mediate this mitogenic response have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we report on the ability of carbachol to stimulate the phosphorylation of Akt/PKB, an important target of phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3 kinase) in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Carbachol induced a dose-dependent phosphorylation of Ser473 on Akt, peaking after 15 min. This effect was mediated by activation of the M3 subtype of muscarinic receptors and was inhibited by two PI3 kinase inhibitors. Inhibitors of protein kinase C, mitogen-activated protein kinase and p70S6 kinase, had no effect on carbachol-induced Akt phosphorylation. Carbachol-induced DNA synthesis was strongly inhibited by two PI3 kinase inhibitors, wortmannin and LY294002, suggesting that PI3 kinase activation plays an important role in carbachol-induced proliferation 1321N1 astrocytoma cells.
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