PACAP and acetylcholine cause distinct Ca2+ signals and secretory responses in chromaffin cells

Alina Morales, Ramkumar Mohan, Xiaohuan Chen, Breanna L. Coffman, Mounir Bendahmane, Lester Watch, Joshua L. West, Shreeya Bakshi, John R. Traynor, David R. Giovannucci, Paul J. Kammermeier, Daniel Axelrod, Kevin P.M. Currie, Alan V. Smrcka, Arun Anantharam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The adrenomedullary chromaffin cell transduces chemical messages into outputs that regulate end organ function throughout the periphery. At least two important neurotransmitters are released by innervating preganglionic neurons to stimulate exocytosis in the chromaffin cell—acetylcholine (ACh) and pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP). Although PACAP is widely acknowledged as an important secretagogue in this system, the pathway coupling PACAP stimulation to chromaffin cell secretion is poorly understood. The goal of this study is to address this knowledge gap. Here, it is shown that PACAP activates a Gαs-coupled pathway that must signal through phospholipase C ε (PLCε) to drive Ca2+ entry and exocytosis. PACAP stimulation causes a complex pattern of Ca2+ signals in chromaffin cells, leading to a sustained secretory response that is kinetically distinct from the form stimulated by ACh. Exocytosis caused by PACAP is associated with slower release of peptide cargo than exocytosis stimulated by ACh. Importantly, only the secretory response to PACAP, not ACh, is eliminated in cells lacking PLCε expression. The data show that ACh and PACAP, acting through distinct signaling pathways, enable nuanced and variable secretory outputs from chromaffin cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202213180
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 6 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology


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