The intracellular signaling mechanisms by which cholecystokinin (CCK) and other secretagogues regulate pancreatic acinar function are more complex than originally realized. CCK couples through heterotrimeric G proteins of the G family to lead to an increase in intracellular free Ca2+, which shows spatial and temporal patterns of signaling. The actions of Ca2+ are mediated in part by activation of a number of Ca2+-activated protein kinases and the protein phosphatase calcineurin. By the process of exocytosis the intracellular messengers Ca2+, diacylglycerol, and cAMP activate the release of the zymogen granule content in a manner that is poorly understood. This fusion event most likely involves SNARE and Rab proteins present on zymogen granules and cellular membrane domains. More likely related to nonsecretory aspects of cell function, CCK also activates three MAPK cascades leading to activation of ERKs, JNKs, and p38 MAPK. Although the function of these pathways is not well understood, ERKs are probably related to cell growth, and through phosphorylation of hsp27, p38 can affect the actin cytoskeleton. The PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase)-mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway is important for regulation of acinar cell protein synthesis because it leads to both activation of p70S6K and regulation of the availability of eIF4E in response to CCK. CCK also activates a number of tyrosyl phosphorylation events including that of p125FAK and other proteins associated with focal adhesions.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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