(R,R′)-4′-methoxy-1-naphthylfenoterol targets GPR55-mediated ligand internalization and impairs cancer cell motility

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(R,R′)-4′-Methoxy-1-naphthylfenoterol (MNF) promotes growth inhibition and apoptosis of human HepG2 hepatocarcinoma cells via cannabinoid receptor (CBR) activation. The synthetic CB1R inverse agonist, AM251, has been shown to block the anti-mitogenic effect of MNF in these cells; however, AM251 is also an agonist of the recently deorphanized, lipid-sensing receptor, GPR55, whose upregulation contributes to carcinogenesis. Here, we investigated the role of MNF in GPR55 signaling in human HepG2 and PANC-1 cancer cell lines in culture by focusing first on internalization of the fluorescent ligand Tocrifluor 1117 (T1117). Initial results indicated that cell pretreatment with GPR55 agonists, including the atypical cannabinoid O-1602 and l-α-lysophosphatidylinositol, dose-dependently reduced the rate of cellular T1117 uptake, a process that was sensitive to MNF inhibition. GPR55 internalization and signaling mediated by O-1602 was blocked by MNF in GPR55-expressing HEK293 cells. Pretreatment of HepG2 and PANC-1 cells with MNF significantly abrogated the induction of ERK1/2 phosphorylation in response to AM251 and O-1602. Moreover, MNF exerted a coordinated negative regulation of AM251 and O-1602 inducible processes, including changes in cellular morphology and cell migration using scratch wound healing assay. This study shows for the first time that MNF impairs GPR55-mediated signaling and, therefore, may have therapeutic potential in the management of cancer.

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