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1.  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
2.  Electro-acupuncture at Conception and Governor vessels and transplantation of umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells for treating cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury 
Neural Regeneration Research  2014;9(1):84-91.
Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation is a novel means of treating cerebral ischemia/reperfusion, and can promote angiogenesis and neurological functional recovery. Acupuncture at Conception and Governor vessels also has positive effects as a treatment for cerebral ischemia/reperfusion. Therefore, we hypothesized that electro-acupuncture at Conception and Governor vessels plus mesenchymal stem cell transplantation may have better therapeutic effects on the promotion of angiogenesis and recovery of neurological function than either treatment alone. In the present study, human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells were isolated, cultured, identified and intracranially transplanted into the striatum and subcortex of rats at 24 hours following cerebral ischemia/reperfusion. Subsequently, rats were electro-acupunctured at Conception and Governor vessels at 24 hours after transplantation. Modified neurological severity scores and immunohistochemistry findings revealed that the combined interventions of electro-acupuncture and mesenchymal stem cell transplantation clearly improved neurological impairment and up-regulated vascular endothelial growth factor expression around the ischemic focus. The combined intervention provided a better outcome than mesenchymal stem cell transplantation alone. These findings demonstrate that electro-acupuncture at Conception and Governor vessels and mesenchymal stem cell transplantation have synergetic effects on promoting neurological function recovery and angiogenesis in rats after cerebral ischemia/reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC4146313  PMID: 25206747
nerve regeneration; acupuncture; human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells; electro-acupuncture; cerebral ischemia/reperfusion; vascular endothelial growth factor; angiogenesis; Conception vessel; Governor vessel; modified neurological severity score; NSFC grant; neural regeneration
3.  Antiandrogen Gold Nanoparticles Dual-Target and Overcome Treatment Resistance in Hormone-Insensitive Prostate Cancer Cells 
Bioconjugate chemistry  2012;23(8):1507-1512.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in developed countries.1 One in six males in the US2 and one in nine males in the UK3 will develop the disease at some point during their lifetime. Despite advances in prostate cancer screening, more than a quarter million men die from the disease every year1 due primarily to treatment-resistance and metastasis. Colloidal nanotechnologies can provide tremendous enhancements to existing targeting/treatment strategies for prostate cancer to which malignant cells are less sensitive. Here, we show that antiandrogen gold nanoparticles – multivalent analogues of antiandrogens currently used in clinical therapy for prostate cancer – selectively engage two distinct receptors, androgen receptor (AR), a target for the treatment of prostate cancer, as well as a novel G-protein coupled receptor, GPRC6A, that is also upregulated in prostate cancer. These nanoparticles selectively accumulated in hormone-insensitive and chemotherapy-resistant prostate cancer cells, bound androgen receptor with multivalent affinity, and exhibited greatly enhanced drug potency versus monovalent antiandrogens currently in clinical use. Further, antiandrogen gold nanoparticles selectively stimulated GPRC6A with multivalent affinity, demonstrating that the delivery of nanoscale antiandrogens can also be facilitated by the transmembrane receptor in order to realize increasingly selective, increasingly potent therapy for treatment-resistant prostate cancers.
PMCID: PMC3434689  PMID: 22768914
4.  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
5.  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
6.  1-[(Phenyl­iminio)amino]-2-naphtho­late 
In the zwitterionic title compound, C16H12N2O, the dihedral angle between the benzene ring and naphthalene ring system is 2.0 (1)°. The azo group adopts a trans configuration and an intra­molecular N—H⋯O hydrogen bond is found. In the crystal, the mol­ecules are packed by strong π–π inter­actions [centroid–centroid distance between aromatic rings = 3.375 (3) Å].
PMCID: PMC3006992  PMID: 21587968
7.  Parathyroid-specific interaction of the calcium-sensing receptor and Gaq 
Kidney international  2008;74(12):1548-1556.
The calcium-sensing receptor regulates various parathyroid gland functions, including hormone secretion, gene transcription, and chief cell hyperplasia through Gαq- and Gαi-dependent signaling pathways. To determine the specific function of Gαq in these processes, we generated transgenic mice using the human parathyroid hormone promoter to drive overexpression of a dominant negative Gαqloop minigene to selectively disrupt Gαq function in the parathyroid gland. The Gαqloop mRNA was highly expressed in the parathyroid gland but not in other tissues of these transgenic mice. Gross appearance, body weight, bone mineral density, and survival of the transgenic mice were indistinguishable from those of their wild-type littermates. Adult transgenic mice, however, exhibited an increase in parathyroid hormone mRNA and in its basal serum level as well as in gland size. The response of the parathyroid gland to hypocalcemia was found to be reduced in sensitivity in the transgenic mice when compared to their wild-type controls. Abnormalities of the parathyroid gland function in these transgenic mice were similar to those of heterozygous Gαq+/− and calcium sensing receptor+/− mice. These studies demonstrate the feasibility of selectively targeting the parathyroid gland to investigate signaling mechanisms downstream of the calcium receptor.
PMCID: PMC2760404  PMID: 18813283
calcium-sensing receptor; G-protein; parathyroid gland
8.  3-Benzyl-1-methyl­imidazolium picrate 
In the title salt, C11H13N2 +·C6H2N3O7 −, the dihedral angles between the benzene ring in the cation and the imidazolium ring and the benzene ring of the picrate anion are 113.7 (2) and 116.3 (2)°, respectively. The imidazolium ring is nearly parallel to the benzene ring of the picrate anion, the dihedral angle between the planes being 2.6 (1)°. The nitro groups in the picrate anions are disordered (occupancy ratio 0.54:0.46). The crystal packing is stabilized by weak C—H⋯O inter­actions between the cation–anion pairs.
PMCID: PMC2970314  PMID: 21577850
9.  GPRC6A Null Mice Exhibit Osteopenia, Feminization and Metabolic Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e3858.
GPRC6A is a widely expressed orphan G-protein coupled receptor that senses extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin and divalent cations in vitro. The physiological functions of GPRC6A are unknown.
Methods/Principal Findings
In this study, we created and characterized the phenotype of GPRC6A−/− mice. We observed complex metabolic abnormalities in GPRC6A−/− mice involving multiple organ systems that express GPRC6A, including bone, kidney, testes, and liver. GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited hepatic steatosis, hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. In addition, we observed high expression of GPRC6A in Leydig cells in the testis. Ablation of GPRC6A resulted in feminization of male GPRC6A−/− mice in association with decreased lean body mass, increased fat mass, increased circulating levels of estradiol, and reduced levels of testosterone. GPRC6A was also highly expressed in kidney proximal and distal tubules, and GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited increments in urine Ca/Cr and PO4/Cr ratios as well as low molecular weight proteinuria. Finally, GPRC6A−/− mice exhibited a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) in association with impaired mineralization of bone.
GPRC6A−/− mice have a metabolic syndrome characterized by defective osteoblast-mediated bone mineralization, abnormal renal handling of calcium and phosphorus, fatty liver, glucose intolerance and disordered steroidogenesis. These findings suggest the overall function of GPRC6A may be to coordinate the anabolic responses of multiple tissues through the sensing of extracellular amino acids, osteocalcin and divalent cations.
PMCID: PMC2585477  PMID: 19050760
10.  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
11.  Osteoblast Calcium-Sensing Receptor Has Characteristics of ANF/7TM Receptors 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2005;95(6):1081-1092.
There is evidence for a functionally important extracelluar calcium-sensing receptor in osteoblasts, but there is disagreement regarding its identity. Candidates are CASR and a putative novel calcium-sensing receptor, called Ob.CASR. To further characterize Ob.CASR and to distinguish it from CASR, we examined the extracellular cation-sensing response in MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts and in osteoblasts derived from CASR null mice. We found that extracellular cations activate ERK and serum response element (SRE)-luciferase reporter activity in osteoblasts lacking CASR. Amino acids, but not the calcimimetic NPS-R568, an allosteric modulator of CASR, also stimulate Ob.CASR-dependent SRE-luciferase activation in MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts. In addition, we found that the dominant negative Gαq(305–359) construct inhibited cation-stimulated ERK activation, consistent with Ob.CASR coupling to Gαq-dependent pathways. Ob.CASR is also a target for classical GPCR desensitization mechanisms, since β-arrestins, which bind to and uncouple GRK phosphorylated GPCRs, attenuated cation-stimulated SRE-luciferase activity in CASR deficient osteoblasts. Finally, we found that Ob.CASR and CASR couple to SRE through distinct signaling pathways. Ob.CASR does not activate RhoA and C3 toxin fails to block Ob.CASR-induced SRE-luciferase activity. Mutational analysis of the serum response factor (SRF) and ternary complex factor (TCF) elements in SRE demonstrates that Ob.CASR predominantly activates TCF-dependent mechanisms, whereas CASR activates SRE-luciferase mainly through a RhoA and SRF-dependent mechanism. The ability of Ob.CASR to sense cations and amino acids and function like a G-protein coupled receptor suggests that it may belong to the family of receptors characterized by an evolutionarily conserved amino acid sensing motif (ANF) linked to an intramembranous 7 transmembrane loop region (7TM).
PMCID: PMC1360183  PMID: 15962313
G-protein coupled receptors; calcium-sensing; osteoblasts; β-arrestin; Gαq; ERK; SRE; CASR, calcium-sensing receptor; Ob.CASR, osteoblastic calcium-sensing receptor; GPCR, G-protein coupled receptor; ERK, extracellular signal-regulated kinase; SRE, serum response element; SRF, serum response factor; TCF, ternary complex factor
12.  Rescue of the skeletal phenotype in CasR-deficient mice by transfer onto the Gcm2 null background 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;111(7):1029-1037.
To understand the role of the calcium-sensing receptor (CasR) in the skeleton, we used a genetic approach to ablate parathyroid glands and remove the confounding effects of elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) in CasR-deficient mice. CasR deficiency was transferred onto the glial cells missing 2–deficient (Gcm2-deficient) background by intercrossing CasR- and Gcm2-deficient mice. Superimposed Gcm2 deficiency rescued the perinatal lethality in CasR-deficient mice in association with ablation of the parathyroid glands and correction of the severe hyperparathyroidism. In addition, the double homozygous CasR- and Gcm2-deficient mice demonstrated healing of the abnormal mineralization of cartilage and bone associated with CasR deficiency, indicating that rickets and osteomalacia in CasR-deficient mice are not due to an independent function of CasR in bone and cartilage but to the effect of severe hyperparathyroidism in the neonate. Analysis of the skeleton of 6-week-old homozygous CasR- and Gcm2-deficient mice also failed to identify any essential, nonredundant role for CasR in regulating chondrogenesis or osteogenesis, but further studies are needed to establish the function of CasR in the skeleton. In contrast, concomitant Gcm2 and CasR deficiency failed to rescue the hypocalciuria in CasR-deficient mice, consistent with direct regulation of urinary calcium excretion by CasR in the kidney. Double Gcm2- and CasR-deficient mice provide an important model for evaluating the extraparathyroid functions of CasR.
PMCID: PMC152586  PMID: 12671052

Results 1-12 (12)