Endogenous Gαq-Coupled Neuromodulator Receptors Activate Protein Kinase A

Yao Chen, Adam J. Granger, Trinh Tran, Jessica L. Saulnier, Alfredo Kirkwood, Bernardo L. Sabatini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Protein kinase A (PKA) integrates inputs from G-protein-coupled neuromodulator receptors to modulate synaptic and cellular function. Gαs signaling stimulates PKA activity, whereas Gαi inhibits PKA activity. Gαq, on the other hand, signals through phospholipase C, and it remains unclear whether Gαq-coupled receptors signal to PKA in their native context. Here, using two independent optical reporters of PKA activity in acute mouse hippocampus slices, we show that endogenous Gαq-coupled muscarinic acetylcholine receptors activate PKA. Mechanistically, this effect is mediated by parallel signaling via either calcium or protein kinase C. Furthermore, multiple Gαq-coupled receptors modulate phosphorylation by PKA, a classical Gαs/Gαi effector. Thus, these results highlight PKA as a biochemical integrator of three major types of GPCRs and necessitate reconsideration of classic models used to predict neuronal signaling in response to the large family of Gαq-coupled receptors. Chen et al. show that hippocampal Gαq-coupled muscarinic receptors activate PKA, an effector classically associated with the Gαs/Gαi pathways. The regulation is mediated by parallel signaling via either Ca2+ or PKC and generalizes to other endogenous and designer Gαq-coupled receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1070-1083.e5
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 6 2017


  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • Gαq signaling
  • acetylcholine
  • designer receptors
  • fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy
  • hippocampus
  • muscarinic receptors
  • neuromodulation
  • optical reporters
  • protein kinase A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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