G-protein coupled cannabinoid CB2 receptor signaling and function is primarily mediated by its inhibitory effect on adenylate cyclase. The visualization and monitoring of agonist dependent dynamic 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) signaling at the single cell level is still missing for CB2 receptors. This paper presents an application of a live cell imaging while using a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensor, Epac1-camps, for quantification of cAMP. We established HEK293 cells stably co-expressing human CB2 and Epac1-camps and quantified cAMP responses upon Forskolin pre-stimulation, followed by treatment with the CB2 ligands JWH-133, HU308, β-caryophyllene, or 2-arachidonoylglycerol. We could identify cells showing either an agonist dependent CB2-response as expected, cells displaying no response, and cells with constitutive receptor activity. In Epac1-CB2-HEK293 responder cells, the terpenoid β-caryophyllene significantly modified the cAMP response through CB2. For all of the tested ligands, a relatively high proportion of cells with constitutively active CB2 receptors was identified. Our method enabled the visualization of intracellular dynamic cAMP responses to the stimuli at single cell level, providing insights into the nature of heterologous CB2 expression systems that contributes to the understanding of Gαi-mediated G-Protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling in living cells and opens up possibilities for future investigations of endogenous CB2 responses.
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