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Cancer Lett. 2011 Dec 22;312(2):197-208. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

Inhibition of tumor cell migration and metastasis by the proton-sensing GPR4 receptor.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, United States.


GPR4 is a member of the proton-sensing G protein-coupled receptor family. Within tumor microenvironments, the interstitial acidic pH may activate GPR4 to regulate the behavior of tumor cells. Mouse B16F10 melanoma cells and TRAMP-C1 prostate cancer cells, genetically engineered to overexpress GPR4 or the control vector, were subject to a series of cell migration, invasion and metastasis assays. Upon GPR4 overexpression and activation in an acidic pH, the migration of B16F10 and TRAMP-C1 cells was substantially inhibited in comparison to the vector control. Similar results were observed in the Matrigel invasion and transendothelial invasion assays. At the molecular level, stimulation of GPR4 by acidosis induced the activation of RhoA and the formation of actin stress fibers. In addition, treating B16F10 cells with the known Rho activator CN01 (calpeptin) strongly inhibited cell migration, recapitulating the acidosis/GPR4-induced motility inhibition phenotype. To examine the biological effects in vivo, B16F10 melanoma cells were intravenously injected into syngeneic C57BL/6 mice and pulmonary metastasis was inhibited by approximately 80% in GPR4-overexpressing B16F10 cells in comparison to the vector control. Upon treatment with the Rho activator CN01, the phenotype of the B16F10 vector cells paralleled that of the GPR4-overexpressing cells in cell migration and metastasis assays. These findings suggest that GPR4 activation by an acidic pH inhibits tumor cell migration and invasion, and the Rho GTPase is at least partly responsible for this phenotype.

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