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1.  Impaired Osteoblast Function in GPRC6A Null Mice 
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research  2009;25(5):1092-1102.
GPRC6A is a widely expressed orphan G protein–coupled receptor that senses extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin, and divalent cations in vitro. GPRC6A null (GPRC6A−/−) mice exhibit multiple metabolic abnormalities including osteopenia. To investigate whether the osseous abnormalities are a direct function of GPRC6A in osteoblasts, we examined the function of primary osteoblasts and bone marrow stromal cell cultures (BMSCs) in GPRC6A−/− mice. We confirmed that GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) associated with reduced expression of osteocalcin, ALP, osteoprotegerin, and Runx2-II transcripts in bone. Osteoblasts and BMSCs derived from GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited an attenuated response to extracellular calcium-stimulated extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) activation, diminished alkaline phosphatase (ALP) expression, and impaired mineralization ex vivo. In addition, siRNA-mediated knockdown of GPRC6A in MC3T3 osteoblasts also resulted in a reduction in extracellular calcium-stimulated ERK activity. To explore the potential relevance of GPRC6A function in humans, we looked for an association between GPRC6A gene polymorphisms and BMD in a sample of 1000 unrelated American Caucasians. We found that GPRC6A gene polymorphisms were significantly associated with human spine BMD. These data indicate that GRPC6A directly participates in the regulation of osteoblast-mediated bone mineralization and may mediate the anabolic effects of extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin, and divalent cations in bone. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
PMCID: PMC3153369  PMID: 19874200
GPRC6A; G protein–coupled receptor (GPCR); osteoblast; bone mineral density; gene polymorphisms
2.  GPRC6A regulates prostate cancer progression 
The Prostate  2011;72(4):399-409.
GPRC6A is a nutrient sensing GPCR that is activated in vitro by a variety of ligands, including amino acids, calcium, zinc, osteocalcin (OC) and testosterone. The association between nutritional factors and risk of prostate cancer, the finding of increased expression of OC in prostate cancer cells and the association between GPRC6A and risk of prostate cancer in Japanese men implicates a role of GPRC6A in prostate cancer.
We examined if GPRC6A is expressed in human prostate cancer cell lines and used siRNA-mediated knockdown GPRC6A expression in prostate cancer cells to explore the function of GPRC6A in vitro. To assess the role GPRC6A in prostate cancer progression in vivo we intercrossed Gprc6a−/− mice onto the TRAMP mouse prostate cancer model.
GPRC6A transcripts were markedly increased in prostate cancer cell lines 22Rv1, PC-3 and LNCaP, compared to the normal prostate RWPE-1 cell line. In addition, a panel of GPRC6A ligands, including calcium, OC, and arginine, exhibited in prostate cancer cell lines a dose-dependent stimulation of ERK activity, cell proliferation, chemotaxis, and prostate specific antigen and Runx 2 gene expression. These responses were inhibited by siRNA-mediated knockdown of GPRC6A. Finally, transfer of Gprc6a deficiency onto a TRAMP mouse model of prostate cancer significantly retarded prostate cancer progression and improved survival of compound Gprc6a−/−/TRAMP mice.
GPRC6A is a novel molecular target for regulating prostate growth and cancer progression. Increments in GPRC6A may augment the ability of prostate cancer cells to proliferate in response to dietary and bone derived ligands.
PMCID: PMC3183291  PMID: 21681779
GPRC6A; GPCR; calcium; osteocalcin; siRNA; prostate cancer; cell proliferation; metastases
3.  Identification of a Novel Extracellular Cation-sensing G-protein-coupled Receptor* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2005;280(48):40201-40209.
The C family G-protein-coupled receptors contain members that sense amino acid and extracellular cations, of which calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) is the prototypic extracellular calcium-sensing receptor. Some cells, such as osteoblasts in bone, retain responsiveness to extracellular calcium in CASR-deficient mice, consistent with the existence of another calcium-sensing receptor. We examined the calcium-sensing properties of GPRC6A, a newly identified member of this family. Alignment of GPRC6A with CASR revealed conservation of both calcium and calcimimetic binding sites. In addition, calcium, magnesium, strontium, aluminum, gadolinium, and the calcimimetic NPS 568 resulted in a dose-dependent stimulation of GPRC6A overexpressed in human embryonic kidney cells 293 cells. Also, osteocalcin, a calcium-binding protein highly expressed in bone, dose-dependently stimulated GPRC6A activity in the presence of calcium but inhibited the calcium-dependent activation of CASR. Coexpression of β-arrestins 1 and 2, regulators of G-protein signaling RGS2 or RGS4, the RhoA inhibitor C3 toxin, the dominant negative Gαq-(305–359) minigene, and pretreatment with pertussis toxin inhibited activation of GPRC6A by extracellular cations. Reverse transcription-PCR analyses showed that mouse GPRC6A is widely expressed in mouse tissues, including bone, calvaria, and the osteoblastic cell line MC3T3-E1. These data suggest that in addition to sensing amino acids, GPRC6A is a cation-, calcimimetic-, and osteocalcin-sensing receptor and a candidate for mediating extracellular calcium-sensing responses in osteoblasts and possibly other tissues.
PMCID: PMC1435382  PMID: 16199532
4.  Gprc5a deletion enhances the transformed phenotype in normal and malignant lung epithelial cells by eliciting persistent Stat3 signaling induced by autocrine Lif 
Cancer research  2010;70(21):8917-8926.
Signal transduction and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) is activated by cytokines and growth factors in lung cancers and regulates expression of genes implicated in cell growth, survival, and transformation. Previously, we found that mice with a deletion of the G protein-coupled receptor, family C, group 5, member a (Gprc5a) gene develop lung tumors indicating that Gprc5a is a tumor suppressor. Herein, we show that epithelial cells from Gprc5a knockout mouse lung (Gprc5a−/− cells) survive better in vitro in medium deprived of exogenous growth factors and form more colonies in semi-solid medium than their counterparts from wildtype mice (Gprc5a+/+ cells). Stat3 Tyrosine 705 phosphorylation and expression of several Stat3-regulated anti-apoptotic genes were higher in Gprc5a−/− than in Gprc5a+/+ cells. Both cell types secreted Leukemia inhibitory factor (Lif), however, whereas Stat3 activation was persistent in Gprc5a−/− cells it was transient in Gprc5a+/+ cells. Lung adenocarcinoma cells isolated from Gprc5a−/− mice also exhibited autocrine Lif-mediated Stat3 activation. The level of Socs3, the endogenous Stat3 inhibitory protein, was higher in Gprc5a+/+ than in Gprc5a−/− cells and expression of the tumor suppressor stabilized Socs3. Inhibition of Stat3 signaling in Gprc5a−/− normal and cancer cells by the Jak2 inhibitor AG490 or by a dominant negative Stat3(Y705F) increased starvation-induced apoptosis and inhibited colony formation. These results demonstrate that persistent Stat3 activation is important for the survival and transformation of Gprc5a−/− lung cells and suggest that the tumor suppressive effects of Gprc5a are mediated, at least in part, by inhibition of Stat3 signaling via Socs3 stabilization.
PMCID: PMC2970717  PMID: 20959490
Stat3; Gprc5a; lung cancer; Lif; apoptosis
5.  A Flanking Gene Problem Leads to the Discovery of a Gprc5b Splice Variant Predominantly Expressed in C57Bl/6J Mouse Brain and in Maturing Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10351.
Gprc5b, a retinoic acid-inducible orphan G protein–coupled receptor (GPCR), is a member of the group C metabotropic glutamate receptor family proteins possibly involved in non-canonical Wnt signaling. Many GPCR transcripts are alternatively spliced, which diversifies this class of proteins in their cell- and tissue-specific signaling, regulatory and/or pharmacological properties. We previously generated p97FE65 isoform-specific knockout mice that showed learning/memory deficits. In this study, we further characterized the 97FE65 null mice using cDNA microarray and RT-PCR analyses.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We discovered a novel brain-specific C-terminal splice variant of Gprc5b, Gprc5b_v2, which was differentially expressed in p97FE65 wild type and null mouse brains. The null mice were generated in 129/Sv ES cells, and backcrossed to C57Bl/6J for ten generations. We found that expression of Gprc5b_v2 mRNA in the brains of p97FE65 null mice was dramatically down-regulated (more than 20 fold) compared to their wild type littermates. However, expression profiles of Gprc5b variants and SNP analysis surrounding the FE65 locus suggest that the down-regulation is unlikely due to the altered FE65 function, but rather is caused by gene retention from the 129/Sv ES cells. Consistently, in contrast to ubiquitously expressed Gprc5b_v1, Gprc5b_v2 was predominantly expressed in the brain tissues of C57Bl/6J mice. The alternative splicing of the 3′ terminal exon also altered the protein coding sequences, giving rise to the characteristic C-termini. Levels of Gprc5b_v2 mRNA were increased during neuronal maturation, paralleling the expression of synaptic proteins. Overexpression of both Gprc5b variants stimulated neurite-like outgrowth in a neuroblastoma cell line.
Our results suggest that Gprc5b-v2 may play a role during brain maturation and in matured brain, possibly through the regulation of neuronal morphology and protein-protein interaction. This study also highlights the fact that unexpected gene retention following repeated backcrosses can lead to important biological consequences.
PMCID: PMC2859937  PMID: 20436672
6.  EGFR phosphorylates and inhibits lung tumor suppressor GPRC5A in lung cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13(1):233.
GPRC5A is a retinoic acid inducible gene that is preferentially expressed in lung tissue. Gprc5a– knockout mice develop spontaneous lung cancer, indicating Gprc5a is a lung tumor suppressor gene. GPRC5A expression is frequently suppressed in majority of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs), however, elevated GPRC5A is still observed in a small portion of NSCLC cell lines and tumors, suggesting that the tumor suppressive function of GPRC5A is inhibited in these tumors by an unknown mechanism.
In this study, we examined EGF receptor (EGFR)-mediated interaction and tyrosine phosphorylation of GPRC5A by immunoprecipitation (IP)-Westernblot. Tyrosine phosphorylation of GPRC5A by EGFR was systematically identified by site-directed mutagenesis. Cell proliferation, migration, and anchorage-independent growth of NSCLC cell lines stably transfected with wild-type GPRC5A and mutants defective in tyrosine phosphorylation were assayed. Immunohistochemical (IHC) staining analysis with specific antibodies was performed to measure the total and phosphorylated GPRC5A in both normal lung and lung tumor tissues.
We found that EGFR interacted with GPRC5A and phosphorylated it in two conserved double-tyrosine motifs, Y317/Y320 and Y347/ Y350, at the C-terminal tail of GPRC5A. EGF induced phosphorylation of GPRC5A, which disrupted GPRC5A-mediated suppression on anchorage-independent growth of NSCLC cells. On contrary, GPRC5A-4 F, in which the four tyrosine residues have been replaced with phenylalanine, was resistant to EGF-induced phosphorylation and maintained tumor suppressive activities. Importantly, IHC analysis with anti-Y317/Y320-P sites showed that GPRC5A was non-phosphorylated in normal lung tissue whereas it was highly tyrosine-phosphorylated in NSCLC tissues.
GPRC5A can be inactivated by receptor tyrosine kinase via tyrosine phosphorylation. Thus, targeting EGFR can restore the tumor suppressive functions of GPRC5A in lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4200229  PMID: 25311788
GPRC5A; EGFR; Tyrosine kinase; Lung cancer; Post-translation modification
7.  Comparison of human chromosome 19q13 and syntenic region on mouse chromosome 7 reveals absence, in man, of 11.6 Mb containing four mouse calcium-sensing receptor-related sequences: relevance to familial benign hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia type 3 
Familial benign hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FBHH) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder that consists of three designated types, FBHH1, FBHH2 and FBHH3, whose chromosomal locations are 3q21.1, 19p and 19q13, respectively. FBHH1 is caused by mutations of a calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR), but the abnormalities underlying FBHH2 and FBHH3 are unknown. FBHH3, also referred to as the Oklahoma variant (FBHHOk), has been mapped to a 12cM interval, flanked by D19S908 and D19S866. To refine the location of FBHH3, we pursued linkage studies using 24 polymorphic loci. Our results establish a linkage between FBHH3 and 17 of these loci, and indicate that FBHH3 is located in a 4.1 Mb region flanked centromerically by D19S112 and telomerically by rs245111, which in the syntenic region on mouse chromosome 7 contains four Casr-related sequences (Gprc2a-rss). However, human homologues of these Gprc2a-rss were not found and a comparative analysis of the 22.0 Mb human and 39.3 Mb mouse syntenic regions showed evolutionary conservation of two segments that were inverted with loss from the human genome of 11.6 Mb that contained the four Gprc2a-rss. Thus, FBHH3 cannot be attributed to Gprc2a-rss abnormalities. DNA sequence analysis of 12 other genes from the interval that were expressed in the parathyroids and/or kidneys did not detect any abnormalities, thereby indicating that these genes are unlikely to be the cause of FBHH3. The results of this study have refined the map location of FBHH3, which will facilitate the identification of another CaSR or a mediator of calcium homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2842244  PMID: 19809483
calcium; linkage; rearrangement
8.  Comparison of human chromosome 19q13 and syntenic region on mouse chromosome 7 reveals absence, in man, of 11.6Mb containing 4 mouse calcium sensing receptor related sequences: relevance to familial benign hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia type 3 
Familial benign hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FBHH) is a genetically heterogenous disorder that consists of three types designated, FBHH1, FBHH2 and FBHH3 whose chromosomal locations are 3q21.1, 19p and 19q13, respectively. FBHH1 is caused by mutations of a calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), but the abnormalities underlying FBHH2 and FBHH3 are unknown. FBHH3, also referred to as the Oklahoma variant (FBHHOk), has been mapped to a 12cM interval, flanked by D19S908 and D19S866. To refine the location of FBHH3, we pursued linkage studies using 24 polymorphic loci. Our results establish linkage between FBHH3 and 17 of these loci, and indicate that FBHH3 is located in a 4.1Mb region flanked centromerically by D19S112 and telomerically by rs245111, which in the syntenic region on mouse chromosome 7 contains 4 Casr related sequences (Gprc2a-rss). However, human homologues of these Gprc2a-rss were not found and a comparative analysis of the 22.0Mb human and 39.3Mb mouse syntenic regions showed evolutionary conservation of 2 segments that were inverted with loss from the human genome of 11.6Mb that contained the 4 Gprc2a-rss. Thus, FBHH3 cannot be due to Gprc2a-rss abnormalities. DNA sequence analysis of 12 other genes from the interval that were expressed in the parathyroids and/or kidneys did not detect any abnormalities, thereby indicating that these genes are unlikely to be the cause of FBHH3. The results of this study have refined the map location of FBHH3, which will facilitate the identification of another CaSR or a mediator of calcium homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2842244  PMID: 19809483
calcium; linkage; rearrangement
9.  Comparative Functional Genomics Analysis of NNK Tobacco-Carcinogen Induced Lung Adenocarcinoma Development in Gprc5a-Knockout Mice 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11847.
Improved understanding of lung cancer development and progression, including insights from studies of animal models, are needed to combat this fatal disease. Previously, we found that mice with a knockout (KO) of G-protein coupled receptor 5A (Gprc5a) develop lung tumors after a long latent period (12 to 24 months).
Methodology/Principal Findings
To determine whether a tobacco carcinogen will enhance tumorigenesis in this model, we administered 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) i.p. to 2-months old Gprc5a-KO mice and sacrificed groups (n = 5) of mice at 6, 9, 12, and 18 months later. Compared to control Gprc5a-KO mice, NNK-treated mice developed lung tumors at least 6 months earlier, exhibited 2- to 4-fold increased tumor incidence and multiplicity, and showed a dramatic increase in lesion size. A gene expression signature, NNK-ADC, of differentially expressed genes derived by transcriptome analysis of epithelial cell lines from normal lungs of Gprc5a-KO mice and from NNK-induced adenocarcinoma was highly similar to differential expression patterns observed between normal and tumorigenic human lung cells. The NNK-ADC expression signature also separated both mouse and human adenocarcinomas from adjacent normal lung tissues based on publicly available microarray datasets. A key feature of the signature, up-regulation of Ube2c, Mcm2, and Fen1, was validated in mouse normal lung and adenocarcinoma tissues and cells by immunohistochemistry and western blotting, respectively.
Our findings demonstrate that lung tumorigenesis in the Gprc5a-KO mouse model is augmented by NNK and that gene expression changes induced by tobacco carcinogen(s) may be conserved between mouse and human lung epithelial cells. Further experimentation to prove the reliability of the Gprc5a knockout mouse model for the study of tobacco-induced lung carcinogenesis is warranted.
PMCID: PMC2912294  PMID: 20686609
10.  G-Protein Coupled Receptor Family C, Group 5, Member A (GPRC5A) Expression Is Decreased in the Adjacent Field and Normal Bronchial Epithelia of Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
Understanding oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes expression patterns is essential for characterizing lung cancer pathogenesis. We have previously demonstrated that mGprc5a/hGPRC5A is a lung-specific tumor suppressor evidenced by inflammation-mediated tumorigenesis in Gprc5a-knockout mice. The implication of GPRC5A in human lung cancer pathogenesis, including that associated with inflammatory chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a risk factor for the malignancy, remains elusive.
We sought to examine GPRC5A immunohistochemical expression in histologically normal bronchial epithelia (NBE) from lung disease-free never- and ever-smokers (n = 13 and n = 18, respectively), from COPD patients with (n = 26) and without cancer (n = 24) and in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) (n = 474). Quantitative assessment of GPRC5A transcript expression in airways (n = 6), adjacent NBEs (n = 29) and corresponding tumors (n = 6) from 6 NSCLC patients was also performed.
GPRC5A immunohistochemical expression was significantly lower in tumors compared to uninvolved NBE (p < 0.0001) and was positively associated with adenocarcinoma histology (p < 0.001). GPRC5A airway expression was highest in lung disease-free NBE, decreased and intermediate in NBE of cancer-free COPD patients (p = 0.004) and further attenuated and lowest in epithelia of COPD patients with adenocarcinoma and SCC (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, GPRC5A mRNA was significantly decreased in NSCLCs and corresponding NBE compared to uninvolved normal lung (p = 0.03).
Our findings highlight decreased GPRC5A expression in the field cancerization of NSCLC, including that associated with lung inflammation. Assessment of the use of GPRC5A expression as a risk factor for NSCLC development in COPD patients is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3622592  PMID: 23154545
Field cancerization; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Non–small-cell lung cancer; g-protein coupled receptor family C; group 5; member A; gene expression
11.  Osteocalcin regulates murine and human fertility through a pancreas-bone-testis axis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(6):2421-2433.
The osteoblast-derived hormone osteocalcin promotes testosterone biosynthesis in the mouse testis by binding to GPRC6A in Leydig cells. Interestingly, Osteocalcin-deficient mice exhibit increased levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), a pituitary hormone that regulates sex steroid synthesis in the testes. These observations raise the question of whether LH regulates osteocalcin’s reproductive effects. Additionally, there is growing evidence that osteocalcin levels are a reliable marker of insulin secretion and sensitivity and circulating levels of testosterone in humans, but the endocrine function of osteocalcin is unclear. Using mouse models, we found that osteocalcin and LH act in 2 parallel pathways and that osteocalcin-stimulated testosterone synthesis is positively regulated by bone resorption and insulin signaling in osteoblasts. To determine the importance of osteocalcin in humans, we analyzed a cohort of patients with primary testicular failure and identified 2 individuals harboring the same heterozygous missense variant in one of the transmembrane domains of GPRC6A, which prevented the receptor from localizing to the cell membrane. This study uncovers the existence of a second endocrine axis that is necessary for optimal male fertility in the mouse and suggests that osteocalcin modulates reproductive function in humans.
PMCID: PMC3668813  PMID: 23728177
12.  Osteocalcin Induces Release of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 and Thereby Stimulates Insulin Secretion in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57375.
The uncarboxylated form (ucOC), but not the γ-carboxylated form (GlaOC), of the bone-derived protein osteocalcin stimulates insulin secretion and regulates energy metabolism in insulin target tissues. Glucagon-like peptide–1 (GLP-1) is an insulin secretagogue that is released from the gut in response to food intake. We have now found that Gprc6a, a putative ucOC receptor, is expressed in epithelial cells of the mouse small intestine as well as in STC-1 enteroendocrine cells. Secretion of GLP-1 by STC-1 cells was stimulated by ucOC but not by GlaOC. The serum GLP-1 concentration in mice was increased by intraperitoneal or oral administration of ucOC, whereas GlaOC was effective in this regard only after oral application. Serum insulin levels were also increased by ucOC, and this effect was potentiated by an inhibitor of dipeptidyl peptidase IV and blocked by a GLP-1 receptor antagonist. Intravenous injection of ucOC in mice increased the serum GLP-1 concentration, and also increased the serum level of insulin. Our results suggest that ucOC acts via Gprc6a to induce GLP-1 release from the gut, and that the stimulatory effect of ucOC on insulin secretion is largely mediated by GLP-1.
PMCID: PMC3577726  PMID: 23437377
13.  G protein-coupled receptor, family C, group 5 (GPRC5B) downregulation in spinal cord neurons is involved in neuropathic pain 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2014;66(3):230-236.
G protein-coupled receptor, family C, group 5 (GPRC5B), a retinoic acid-inducible orphan G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), is a member of the group C metabotropic glutamate receptor family proteins presumably related in non-canonical Wnt signaling. In this study, we investigated altered GPRC5B expression in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord after spinal nerve injury and its involvement in the development of neuropathic pain.
After induction of anesthesia by intraperitoneal injection of pentobarbital (35 mg /kg), the left L5 spinal nerve at the level of 2 mm distal to the L5 DRG was tightly ligated with silk and cut just distal to the ligature. Seven days after nerve injury, animals were perfused with 4% paraformaldehyde, and the spinal cords were extracted and post-fixed at 4℃ overnight. To identify the expression of GPRC5B and analyze the involvement of GPRC5B in neuropathic pain, immunofluorescence was performed using several markers for neurons and glial cells in spinal cord tissue.
After L5 spinal nerve ligation (SNL), the expression of GPRC5B was decreased in the ipsilateral part, as compared to the contralateral part, of the spinal dorsal horn. SNL induced the downregulation of GPRC5B in NeuN-positive neurons in the spinal dorsal horn. However, CNPase-positive oligodendrocytes, OX42-positive microglia, and GFAP-positive astrocytes were not immunolabeled with GPRC5B antibody in the spinal dorsal horn.
These results imply that L5 SNL-induced GPRC5B downregulation may affect microglial activation in the spinal dorsal horn and be involved in neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC3983420  PMID: 24729846
GPCR5B; Microglial activation; Neuroglial cell; Neuropathic pain; Spinal nerve injury
14.  The emerging roles of GPRC5A in diseases 
Oncoscience  2014;1(12):765-776.
The ‘Retinoic Acid-Inducible G-protein-coupled receptors’ or RAIG are a group comprising the four orphan receptors GPRC5A, GPRC5B, GPRC5C and GPRC5D. As the name implies, their expression is induced by retinoic acid but beyond that very little is known about their function. In recent years, one member, GPRC5A, has been receiving increasing attention as it was shown to play important roles in human cancers. As a matter of fact, dysregulation of GPRC5A has been associated with several cancers including lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Here we review the current state of knowledge about the heterogeneity and evolution of GPRC5A, its regulation, its molecular functions, and its involvement in human disease.
PMCID: PMC4303886  PMID: 25621293
GPRC5A; RAI3; tumor suppressor; oncogene; dual-behavior; cancer
15.  Regulation of male fertility by the bone-derived hormone osteocalcin 
Molecular and cellular endocrinology  2013;382(1):10.1016/j.mce.2013.10.008.
Traditionally, bone has been viewed as a relatively static tissue only fulfilling mechanical and scaffolding function. In the past decade however, this classical view of the bone has considerably evolved towards a more complex picture. It is now clear that the skeleton is not only a recipient for hormonal input but it is also an endocrine organ itself. Through the secretion of an osteoblast-derived molecule, osteocalcin, the skeleton regulates glucose homeostasis and male reproductive functions. When undercarboxylated, osteocalcin acts following its binding to a G-coupled receptor, GPRC6A, on pancreatic β cells to increase insulin secretion, on muscle and white adipose tissue to promote glucose homeostasis and on Leydig cells of the testis to favor testosterone biosynthesis. More recently, it was also shown that osteocalcin acts via a pancreas-bone-testis axis that regulates, independently of and in parallel to the hypothalamus-pituitary-testis axis, male reproductive functions by promoting testosterone biosynthesis. Lastly, in trying to expand the biological relevance of osteocalcin from mouse to human, it was shown that GPRC6A is a potential new susceptibility locus for primary testicular failure in humans. Altogether, these results shed new light on the importance of the endocrine role of the skeleton and also provide credence to the search for additional endocrine functions of this organ.
PMCID: PMC3850748  PMID: 24145129
16.  Novel Bone Endocrine Networks Integrating Mineral and Energy Metabolism 
Current osteoporosis reports  2013;11(4):391-399.
The skeleton is an endocrine organ that regulates energy metabolism through the release of the osteoblast-derived hormone, osteocalcin (Ocn), and phosphate and vitamin D homeostasis through the secretion by osteoblasts and osteocytes of the novel hormone, FGF23 Ocn activates a widely expressed G-protein coupled receptor, GPRC6A, to regulate insulin secretion by pancreatic β–cells, testosterone secretion by testicular Leydig cells, fatty acid metabolism in the liver, and insulin sensitivity of muscle and fat, as well as other functions. FGF23 targets a limited number of tissues, including kidney, parathyroid gland, choroid plexus and pituitary gland that co-express FGF receptors and α-Klotho complexes. Ectodomain shedding and secretion of a soluble form of Klotho also is purported to act as an anti-ageing hormone. Further elucidation of these novel endocrine networks is likely to lead to new appreciation of the cooperation between various organ systems to regulate phosphate, vitamin D, and energy metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4011556  PMID: 24193547
Bone; osteoblast; osteocyte; extracellular matrix; mineralization; fibroblastic growth factors; alpha-Klotho; fibroblastic growth factor receptor; hypophosphatemia; vitamin D; Cyp27b1; Cyp24; PTH; G-protein coupled receptors; GPRC6A; L-arginine; testosterone; osteocalcin; insulin resistance; insulin secretion; metabolic syndrome; hypophosphatemia
17.  Enhancement of lung tumorigenesis in a Gprc5a Knockout mouse by chronic extrinsic airway inflammation 
Molecular Cancer  2012;11:4.
Although cigarette smoking is the principal cause of lung carcinogenesis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory disease of the lung, has been identified as an independent risk factor for lung cancer. Bacterial colonization, particularly with non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), has been implicated as a cause of airway inflammation in COPD besides cigarette smoke. Accordingly, we hypothesized that lung cancer promotion may occur in a chronic inflammatory environment in the absence of concurrent carcinogen exposure.
Herein, we investigated the effects of bacterial-induced COPD-like inflammation and tobacco carcinogen-enhanced tumorigenesis/inflammation in the retinoic acid inducible G protein coupled receptor knock out mouse model (Gprc5a-/- mouse) characterized by late-onset, low multiplicity tumor formation. Three-month-old Gprc5a-/- mice received 4 intraperitoneal injections of the tobacco-specific carcinogen, NNK, followed by weekly exposure to aerosolized NTHi lysate for 6 months. The numbers of inflammatory cells in the lungs and levels of several inflammatory mediators were increased in Gprc5a-/- mice treated with NTHi alone, and even more so in mice pretreated with NNK followed by NTHi. The incidence of spontaneous lung lesions in the Gprc5a-/- mice was low, but NTHi exposure led to enhanced development of hyperplastic lesions. Gprc5a-/- mice exposed to NNK alone developed multiple lung tumors, while NTHi exposure increased the number of hyperplastic foci 6-fold and the tumor multiplicity 2-fold. This was associated with increased microvessel density and HIF-1α expression.
We conclude that chronic extrinsic lung inflammation induced by bacteria alone or in combination with NNK enhances lung tumorigenesis in Gprc5a-/- mice.
PMCID: PMC3281775  PMID: 22239913
lung cancer; inflammation; COPD; Gpcr5a; NTHi
18.  A Gprc5a Tumor Suppressor Loss of Expression Signature Is Conserved, Prevalent, and Associated with Survival in Human Lung Adenocarcinomas12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2010;12(6):499-505.
Increasing the understanding of the impact of changes in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes is essential for improving the management of lung cancer. Recently, we identified a new mouse lung-specific tumor suppressor—the G protein-coupled receptor 5A (Gprc5a). Microarray analysis of the transcriptomes of lung epithelial cells cultured from normal tracheas of Gprc5a knockout and wild-type mice defined a loss-of-Gprc5a gene signature, which revealed many aberrations in cancer-associated pathways. To assess the relevance of this mouse tumor suppressor to human lung cancer, the loss-of-Gprc5a signature was cross species compared with and integrated with publicly available gene expression data of human normal lung tissue and non-small cell lung cancers. The loss-of-Gprc5a signature was prevalent in human lung adenocarcinomas compared with squamous cell carcinomas or normal lung. Furthermore, it identified subsets of lung adenocarcinomas with poor outcome. These results demonstrate that gene expression patterns of Gprc5a loss in nontumorigenic mouse lung epithelial cells are evolutionarily conserved and important in human lung adenocarcinomas.
PMCID: PMC2887090  PMID: 20563252
19.  Extracellular Ca2+ is a danger signal activating the NLRP3 inflammasome through G protein-coupled calcium sensing receptors 
Nature Communications  2012;3:1329-.
Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome enables monocytes and macrophages to release high levels of interleukin-1β during inflammatory responses. Concentrations of extracellular calcium can increase at sites of infection, inflammation or cell activation. Here we show that increased extracellular calcium activates the NLRP3 inflammasome via stimulation of G protein-coupled calcium sensing receptors. Activation is mediated by signalling through the calcium-sensing receptor and GPRC6A via the phosphatidyl inositol/Ca2+ pathway. The resulting increase in the intracellular calcium concentration triggers inflammasome assembly and Caspase-1 activation. We identified necrotic cells as one source for excess extracellular calcium triggering this activation. In vivo, increased calcium concentrations can amplify the inflammatory response in the mouse model of carrageenan-induced footpad swelling, and this effect was inhibited in GPRC6A−/− mice. Our results demonstrate that G-protein-coupled receptors can activate the inflammasome, and indicate that increased extracellular calcium has a role as a danger signal and amplifier of inflammation.
Levels of extracellular calcium can increase at sites of infection and inflammation; however, the physiological significance of this has been unclear. This work shows that extracellular calcium acts as a danger signal, triggering the NLRP3 inflammasome via two G protein-coupled receptors.
PMCID: PMC3535422  PMID: 23271661
20.  Molecular evolution of a chordate specific family of G protein-coupled receptors 
Chordate evolution is a history of innovations that is marked by physical and behavioral specializations, which led to the development of a variety of forms from a single ancestral group. Among other important characteristics, vertebrates obtained a well developed brain, anterior sensory structures, a closed circulatory system and gills or lungs as blood oxygenation systems. The duplication of pre-existing genes had profound evolutionary implications for the developmental complexity in vertebrates, since mutations modifying the function of a duplicated protein can lead to novel functions, improving the evolutionary success.
We analyzed here the evolution of the GPRC5 family of G protein-coupled receptors by comprehensive similarity searches and found that the receptors are only present in chordates and that the size of the receptor family expanded, likely due to genome duplication events in the early history of vertebrate evolution. We propose that a single GPRC5 receptor coding gene originated in a stem chordate ancestor and gave rise by duplication events to a gene family comprising three receptor types (GPRC5A-C) in vertebrates, and a fourth homologue present only in mammals (GPRC5D). Additional duplications of GPRC5B and GPRC5C sequences occurred in teleost fishes. The finding that the expression patterns of the receptors are evolutionarily conserved indicates an important biological function of these receptors. Moreover, we found that expression of GPRC5B is regulated by vitamin A in vivo, confirming previous findings that linked receptor expression to retinoic acid levels in tumor cell lines and strengthening the link between the receptor expression and the development of a complex nervous system in chordates, known to be dependent on retinoic acid signaling.
GPRC5 receptors, a class of G protein-coupled receptors with unique sequence characteristics, may represent a molecular novelty that helped non-chordates to become chordates.
PMCID: PMC3238225  PMID: 21827690
GPRC5; chordate development; retinoic acid; phylogeny; GPCR
21.  Receptors Responsive to Protein Breakdown Products in G-Cells and D-Cells of Mouse, Swine and Human 
Monitoring the luminal content in the stomach is of vital importance for adjusting the gastric activities, including the release of gastric hormones such as gastrin. Our previous studies have shown that in mice the gastrin-secreting G-cells express receptor types which are responsive to amino acids. Since the pig is considered as more suitable model for studying gastro-physiological aspects relevant for men, in this study we have analyzed the distribution of G-cells and D-cells in the gastric antrum of men, swine, and mouse and the expression of receptor types which may render these cells responsiveness to protein breakdown products. The results indicate that the number of G-cells per antral invagination was significantly higher in swine and human compared to mice and also the distribution pattern of G-cells differed between the species. The molecular phenotyping revealed that the receptors GPRC6A and CaSR were also expressed in G-cells and in a subpopulation of D-cells from swine and men. As an additional receptor type, the peptone-receptor GPR92, was found to be expressed in G-cells and a subpopulation of D-cells; this receptor type may be particular suitable for sensing protein breakdown products and thus be a key element to adjust the activity of G-cells and D-cells according to the progress of the digestive processes in the stomach. In search for elements of an intracellular signaling cascade it was found that G-cells express the G-protein subunit Gαq as well as the phospholipase C subtype PLCβ3; in contrast, D-cells expressed the subtype PLCβ2 and neither Gαq. These results indicate that there are significant species differences concerning the number and distribution pattern, but not concerning the molecular phenotype of the gastric endocrine cells. However, G-cells and D-cells significantly differ from each other regarding the repertoire of receptors and signaling elements.
PMCID: PMC3322525  PMID: 22514536
receptors; GPR92; GPRC6A; CaSR; G- and D-cells; mouse; swine; human
22.  G protein-linked signaling pathways in bipolar and major depressive disorders 
Frontiers in Genetics  2013;4:297.
The G-protein linked signaling system (GPLS) comprises a large number of G-proteins, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), GPCR ligands, and downstream effector molecules. G-proteins interact with both GPCRs and downstream effectors such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), phosphatidylinositols, and ion channels. The GPLS is implicated in the pathophysiology and pharmacology of both major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BPD). This study evaluated whether GPLS is altered at the transcript level. The gene expression in the dorsolateral prefrontal (DLPFC) and anterior cingulate (ACC) were compared from MDD, BPD, and control subjects using Affymetrix Gene Chips and real time quantitative PCR. High quality brain tissue was used in the study to control for confounding effects of agonal events, tissue pH, RNA integrity, gender, and age. GPLS signaling transcripts were altered especially in the ACC of BPD and MDD subjects. Transcript levels of molecules which repress cAMP activity were increased in BPD and decreased in MDD. Two orphan GPCRs, GPRC5B and GPR37, showed significantly decreased expression levels in MDD, and significantly increased expression levels in BPD. Our results suggest opposite changes in BPD and MDD in the GPLS, “activated” cAMP signaling activity in BPD and “blunted” cAMP signaling activity in MDD. GPRC5B and GPR37 both appear to have behavioral effects, and are also candidate genes for neurodegenerative disorders. In the context of the opposite changes observed in BPD and MDD, these GPCRs warrant further study of their brain effects.
PMCID: PMC3870297  PMID: 24391664
G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR); transcriptome; bipolar disorder; major depressive disorder; GPR37; GPRC5B; cyclic AMP; phosphatidylinositol
23.  Heptahelical Receptors GprC and GprD of Aspergillus fumigatus Are Essential Regulators of Colony Growth, Hyphal Morphogenesis, and Virulence▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(12):3989-3998.
The filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus normally grows on compost or hay but is also able to colonize environments such as the human lung. In order to survive, this organism needs to react to a multitude of external stimuli. Although extensive work has been carried out to investigate intracellular signal transduction in A. fumigatus, little is known about the specific stimuli and the corresponding receptors activating these signaling cascades. Here, two putative G-protein-coupled receptors, GprC and GprD, were characterized with respect to their cellular functions. Deletion of the corresponding genes resulted in drastic growth defects as hyphal extension was reduced, germination was retarded, and hyphae showed elevated levels of branching. The growth defect was found to be temperature dependent. The higher the temperature the more pronounced was the growth defect. Furthermore, compared with the wild type, the sensitivity of the mutant strains toward environmental stress caused by reactive oxygen intermediates was increased and the mutants displayed an attenuation of virulence in a murine infection model. Both mutants, especially the ΔgprC strain, exhibited increased tolerance toward cyclosporine, an inhibitor of the calcineurin signal transduction pathway. Transcriptome analyses indicated that in both the gprC and gprD deletion mutants, transcripts of primary metabolism genes were less abundant, whereas transcription of several secondary metabolism gene clusters was upregulated. Taken together, our data suggest the receptors are involved in integrating and processing stress signals via modulation of the calcineurin pathway.
PMCID: PMC2893470  PMID: 20418440
24.  L-Arginine Stimulates Fibroblast Proliferation through the GPRC6A-ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92168.
l-Arginine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid and has been shown to enhance wound healing. However, the molecular mechanisms through which arginine stimulates cutaneous wound repair remain unknown. Here, we evaluated the effects of arginine supplementation on fibroblast proliferation, which is a key process required for new tissue formation. We also sought to elucidate the signaling pathways involved in mediating the effects of arginine on fibroblasts by evaluation of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) 1/2 activation, which is important for cell growth, survival, and differentiation. Our data demonstrated that addition of 6 mM arginine significantly enhanced fibroblast proliferation, while arginine deprivation increased apoptosis, as observed by enhanced DNA fragmentation. In vitro kinase assays demonstrated that arginine supplementation activated ERK1/2, Akt, PKA and its downstream target, cAMP response element binding protein (CREB). Moreover, knockdown of GPRC6A using siRNA blocked fibroblast proliferation and decreased phosphorylation of ERK1/2, Akt and CREB. The present experiments demonstrated a critical role for the GPRC6A-ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathway in arginine-mediated fibroblast survival. Our findings provide novel mechanistic insights into the positive effects of arginine on wound healing.
PMCID: PMC3961283  PMID: 24651445
25.  Exposure to ionizing radiation induced persistent gene expression changes in mouse mammary gland 
Breast tissue is among the most sensitive tissues to the carcinogenic actions of ionizing radiation and epidemiological studies have linked radiation exposure to breast cancer. Currently, molecular understanding of radiation carcinogenesis in mammary gland is hindered due to the scarcity of in vivo long-term follow up data. We undertook this study to delineate radiation-induced persistent alterations in gene expression in mouse mammary glands 2-month after radiation exposure.
Six to eight week old female C57BL/6J mice were exposed to 2 Gy of whole body γ radiation and mammary glands were surgically removed 2-month after radiation. RNA was isolated and microarray hybridization performed for gene expression analysis. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) was used for biological interpretation of microarray data. Real time quantitative PCR was performed on selected genes to confirm the microarray data.
Compared to untreated controls, the mRNA levels of a total of 737 genes were significantly (p<0.05) perturbed above 2-fold of control. More genes (493 genes; 67%) were upregulated than the number of downregulated genes (244 genes; 33%). Functional analysis of the upregulated genes mapped to cell proliferation and cancer related canonical pathways such as ‘ERK/MAPK signaling’, ‘CDK5 signaling’, and ‘14-3-3-mediated signaling’. We also observed upregulation of breast cancer related canonical pathways such as ‘breast cancer regulation by Stathmin1’, and ‘HER-2 signaling in breast cancer’ in IPA. Interestingly, the downregulated genes mapped to fewer canonical pathways involved in cell proliferation. We also observed that a number of genes with tumor suppressor function (GPRC5A, ELF1, NAB2, Sema4D, ACPP, MAP2, RUNX1) persistently remained downregulated in response to radiation exposure. Results from qRT-PCR on five selected differentially expressed genes confirmed microarray data. The PCR data on PPP4c, ELF1, MAPK12, PLCG1, and E2F6 showed similar trend in up and downregulation as has been observed with the microarray.
Exposure to a clinically relevant radiation dose led to long-term activation of mammary gland genes involved in proliferative and metabolic pathways, which are known to have roles in carcinogenesis. When considered along with downregulation of a number of tumor suppressor genes, our study has implications for breast cancer initiation and progression after therapeutic radiation exposure.
PMCID: PMC3551737  PMID: 23216862
Radiation exposure; Mouse mammary gland; Gene expression; Persistent microarray changes.

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