Research has shown that the synergistic interaction between vagal cholecystokinin-A receptors (CCKARs) and leptin receptors (LRbs) mediates short term satiety. We hypothesize that this synergistic interaction is mediated by cross-talk between signaling cascades used by CCKARs and LRbs, which, in turn, activates closure of K+ channels, leading to membrane depolarization and neuronal firing. Whole cell patch clamp recordings were performed on isolated rat nodose ganglia neurons. Western immunoblots elucidated the intracellular signaling pathways that modulate leptin/CCK synergism. In addition, STAT3, PI3K, Src, and MAPK genes were silenced by lentiviral infection and transient Lipofectamine transfection of cultured rat nodose ganglia to determine the effect of these molecules on leptin/CCK synergism. Patch clamp studies showed that a combination of leptin and CCK-8 caused a significant increase in membrane input resistance compared with leptin or CCK-8 alone. Silencing the STAT3 gene abolished the synergistic action of leptin/CCK-8 on neuronal firing. Leptin/CCK-8 synergistically stimulated a 7.7-fold increase in phosphorylated STAT3 (pSTAT3), which was inhibited by AG490, C3 transferase, PP2, LY294002, and wortmannin, but not PD98059. Silencing the Src and PI3K genes resulted in a loss of leptin/CCK-stimulated pSTAT3. We conclude that the synergistic interaction between vagal CCKARs and LRbs is mediated by the phosphorylation of STAT3, which, in turn, activates closure of K+ channels, leading to membrane depolarization and neuronal firing. This involves the interaction between CCK/Src/PI3K cascades and leptin/JAK2/PI3K/STAT3 signaling pathways. Malfunctioning of these signaling molecules may result in eating disorders
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