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J Biol Chem. 2005 May 20;280(20):19507-15. Epub 2005 Mar 17.

Free fatty acids inhibit serum deprivation-induced apoptosis through GPR120 in a murine enteroendocrine cell line STC-1.

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Bioinformatics Center, Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Uji, Japan.


Free fatty acids (FFAs) provide an important energy source and also act as signaling molecules. FFAs are known to exert a variety of physiological responses via their G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), such as the GPR40 family. Recently, we identified a novel FFA receptor, GPR120, that promotes secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (Hirasawa, A., Tsumaya, K., Awaji, T., Katsuma, S., Adachi, T., Yamada, M., Sugimoto, Y., Miyazaki, S., and Tsujimoto, G. (2005) Nat. Med. 11, 90-94). Here we showed that FFAs inhibit serum deprivation-induced apoptosis of murine enteroendocrine STC-1 cells, which express two types of GPCRs, GPR120 and GPR40, for unsaturated long chain FFA. We first found that linolenic acid potently activated ERK and Akt/protein kinase B (Akt) in STC-1 cells. ERK kinase inhibitors significantly reduced the anti-apoptotic effects of linolenic acid. Inhibitors for phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), a major target of which is Akt, significantly reduced the anti-apoptotic effects. Transfection of STC-1 cells with the dominant-negative form of Akt also inhibited the anti-apoptotic effect. These results suggested that the activation of ERK and PI3K-Akt pathways is required for FFA-induced anti-apoptotic effects on STC-1 cells. Transient transfection of STC-1 cells with GPR120 cDNA, but not GPR40 cDNA, enhanced inhibition of caspase-3 activation. RNA interference experiments showed that reduced expression of GPR120, but not GPR40, resulted in reduced ERK activation and reduced effects of FFAs on caspase-3 inhibition. Collectively, these results demonstrated that FFAs promote the activation of ERK and PI3K-Akt pathways mainly via GPR120, leading to the anti-apoptotic effect of STC-1 cells.

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