Publications by authors named "Klaus Seuwen"

44 Publications

pH-Sensing G Protein-Coupled Receptor OGR1 (GPR68) Expression and Activation Increases in Intestinal Inflammation and Fibrosis.

Int J Mol Sci 2022 Jan 26;23(3). Epub 2022 Jan 26.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland.

Local extracellular acidification occurs at sites of inflammation. Proton-sensing ovarian cancer G-protein-coupled receptor 1 (OGR1, also known as GPR68) responds to decreases in extracellular pH. Our previous studies show a role for OGR1 in the pathogenesis of mucosal inflammation, suggesting a link between tissue pH and immune responses. Additionally, pH-dependent signalling is associated with the progression of intestinal fibrosis. In this study, we aimed to investigate OGR1 expression and OGR1-mediated signalling in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our results show that OGR1 expression significantly increased in patients with IBD compared to non-IBD patients, as demonstrated by qPCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC). Paired samples from non-inflamed and inflamed intestinal areas of IBD patients showed stronger OGR1 IHC staining in inflamed mucosal segments compared to non-inflamed mucosa. IHC of human surgical samples revealed OGR1 expression in macrophages, granulocytes, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts. OGR1-dependent inositol phosphate (IP) production was significantly increased in CD14+ monocytes from IBD patients compared to healthy subjects. Primary human and murine fibroblasts exhibited OGR1-dependent IP formation, RhoA activation, F-actin, and stress fibre formation upon an acidic pH shift. OGR1 expression and signalling increases with IBD disease activity, suggesting an active role of OGR1 in the pathogenesis of IBD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms23031419DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8835966PMC
January 2022

New Therapeutic Approach for Intestinal Fibrosis Through Inhibition of pH-Sensing Receptor GPR4.

Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022 01;28(1):109-125

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) express increased mucosal levels of pH-sensing receptors compared with non-IBD controls. Acidification leads to angiogenesis and extracellular matrix remodeling. We aimed to determine the expression of pH-sensing G protein-coupled receptor 4 (GPR4) in fibrotic lesions in Crohn's disease (CD) patients. We further evaluated the effect of deficiency in Gpr4 or its pharmacologic inhibition.

Methods: Paired samples from fibrotic and nonfibrotic terminal ileum were obtained from CD patients undergoing ileocaecal resection. The effects of Gpr4 deficiency were assessed in the spontaneous Il-10-/- and the chronic dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) murine colitis model. The effects of Gpr4 deficiency and a GPR4 antagonist (39c) were assessed in the heterotopic intestinal transplantation model.

Results: In human terminal ileum, increased expression of fibrosis markers was accompanied by an increase in GPR4 expression. A positive correlation between the expression of procollagens and GPR4 was observed. In murine disease models, Gpr4 deficiency was associated with a decrease in angiogenesis and fibrogenesis evidenced by decreased vessel length and expression of Edn, Vegfα, and procollagens. The heterotopic animal model for intestinal fibrosis, transplanted with terminal ileum from Gpr4-/- mice, revealed a decrease in mRNA expression of fibrosis markers and a decrease in collagen content and layer thickness compared with grafts from wild type mice. The GPR4 antagonist decreased collagen deposition. The GPR4 expression was also observed in human and murine intestinal fibroblasts. The GPR4 inhibition reduced markers of fibroblast activation stimulated by low pH, notably Acta2 and cTgf.

Conclusions: Expression of GPR4 positively correlates with the expression of profibrotic genes and collagen. Deficiency of Gpr4 is associated with a decrease in angiogenesis and fibrogenesis. The GPR4 antagonist decreases collagen deposition. Targeting GPR4 with specific inhibitors may constitute a new treatment option for IBD-associated fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ibd/izab140DOI Listing
January 2022

Natural cystatin C fragments inhibit GPR15-mediated HIV and SIV infection without interfering with GPR15L signaling.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 01;118(3)

Institute of Molecular Virology, Ulm University Medical Center, 89081 Ulm, Germany;

GPR15 is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) proposed to play a role in mucosal immunity that also serves as a major entry cofactor for HIV-2 and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). To discover novel endogenous GPR15 ligands, we screened a hemofiltrate (HF)-derived peptide library for inhibitors of GPR15-mediated SIV infection. Our approach identified a C-terminal fragment of cystatin C (CysC95-146) that specifically inhibits GPR15-dependent HIV-1, HIV-2, and SIV infection. In contrast, GPR15L, the chemokine ligand of GPR15, failed to inhibit virus infection. We found that cystatin C fragments preventing GPR15-mediated viral entry do not interfere with GPR15L signaling and are generated by proteases activated at sites of inflammation. The antiretroviral activity of CysC95-146 was confirmed in primary CD4 T cells and is conserved in simian hosts of SIV infection. Thus, we identified a potent endogenous inhibitor of GPR15-mediated HIV and SIV infection that does not interfere with the physiological function of this GPCR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2023776118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7826402PMC
January 2021

Targeting interleukin-4 to the arthritic joint.

J Control Release 2020 10 10;326:172-180. Epub 2020 Jul 10.

Institute of Pharmacy and Food Chemistry, University of Würzburg, DE-97074 Würzburg, Germany. Electronic address:

Anti-inflammatory cytokines are a promising class of therapeutics for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but their use is currently limited by a rapid clearance and systemic toxicity. Interleukin-4 is a small cytokine with potential for RA therapy. To increase its pharmacokinetic features, we engineered a murine IL4 conjugate by incorporating an unnatural amino acid through genetic code expansion to which PEG-folate, as a targeting moiety and PEG alone as control, were site-specifically bound. Both IL4 conjugates retained bioactivity and induced primary murine macrophage polarization into an alternatively activated (M2) related phenotype. The PEGylated conjugates had a terminal half-life of about four hours in healthy mice compared to unPEGylated IL4 (0.76 h). We showed that both conjugates successfully accumulated into arthritic joints in an antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) mouse model, as assessed by non-invasive fluorescence imaging. The modular nature of the IL4 conjugate chemistry presented herein facilitates easy adaption of PEG chain length and targeting moieties for further improvement of half-life and targeting function for future efficacy studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2020.07.005DOI Listing
October 2020

The proton-activated ovarian cancer G protein-coupled receptor 1 (OGR1) is responsible for renal calcium loss during acidosis.

Kidney Int 2020 05 25;97(5):920-933. Epub 2019 Dec 25.

Institute of Physiology, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland; National Center for Competence in Research, NCCR Kidney.CH, Swiss National Science Foundation, Bern, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Hypercalciuria is a common feature during metabolic acidosis and associates to nephrolithiasis and nephrocalcinosis. The mechanisms sensing acidosis and inducing increased urinary calcium excretion are still unknown. Here we tested whether mice deficient for proton-activated Ovarian cancer G-protein coupled receptor 1 (OGR1 or Gpr68) have reduced urinary excretion of calcium during chronic metabolic acidosis. In the kidney, OGR1 mRNA was found in cells of the glomerulus, proximal tubule, and interstitium including endothelial cells. Wild type (OGR1) and OGR1 knockout (OGR1) mice were given standard chow without (control) or loaded with ammonium chloride for one or seven days to induce acute or chronic metabolic acidosis, respectively. No differences in responding to the acid load were observed in the knockout mice, except for higher plasma bicarbonate after one day. Bone mineral density, resorption activity of osteoclasts, and urinary deoxypyridinoline were similar between genotypes. During metabolic acidosis the expression levels of key proteins involved in calcium reabsorption, i.e. the sodium/proton exchanger (NHE3), the epithelial calcium-selective channel TRPV5, and the vitamin D-dependent calcium binding protein calbindin-D28k were all higher in the knockout mice compared to wild type mice. This is consistent with the previous demonstration that OGR1 reduces NHE3 activity in proximal tubules of mice. Wild-type mice displayed a non-linear positive association between urinary proton and calcium excretion which was lost in the knockout mice. Thus, OGR1 is a pH sensor involved in the hypercalciuria of metabolic acidosis by controlling NHE3 activity in the proximal tubule. Hence, novel drugs modulating OGR1 activity may improve renal calcium handling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2019.12.006DOI Listing
May 2020

Enzymatic interconversion of the oxysterols 7β,25-dihydroxycholesterol and 7-keto,25-hydroxycholesterol by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 and 2.

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2019 06 19;190:19-28. Epub 2019 Mar 19.

Division of Molecular and Systems Toxicology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 50, 4056 Basel, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Oxysterols are cholesterol metabolites derived through either autoxidation or enzymatic processes. They consist of a large family of bioactive lipids that have been associated with the progression of multiple pathologies. In order to unravel (patho-)physiological mechanisms involving oxysterols, it is crucial to elucidate the underlying formation and degradation of oxysterols. A role of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (11β-HSDs) in oxysterol metabolism by catalyzing the interconversion of 7-ketocholesterol (7kC) and 7β-hydroxycholesterol (7βOHC) has already been reported. The present study addresses a function of 11β-HSD1 in the enzymatic generation of 7β,25-dihydroxycholesterol (7β25OHC) from 7-keto,25-hydroxycholesterol (7k25OHC) and tested whether 11β-HSD2 is able to catalyze the reverse reaction. For the first time, using recombinant enzymes, the formation of 7k25OHC from 7kC by cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (CH25H) and further stereospecific oxoreduction to 7β25OHC by human and mouse 11β-HSD1 could be demonstrated. Additionally, experiments using human 11β-HSD2 showed the oxidation of 7β25OHC to 7k25OHC. Molecular modeling provided an explanation for the stereospecific interconversion of 7β25OHC and 7k25OHC. Production of the Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 2 (EBI2) ligand 7β25OHC from 7k25OHC in challenged tissue by 11β-HSD1 may be important in inflammation. In conclusion, these results demonstrate a novel glucocorticoid-independent pre-receptor regulation mediated by 11β-HSDs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2019.03.011DOI Listing
June 2019

The impact of the rs8005161 polymorphism on G protein-coupled receptor GPR65 (TDAG8) pH-associated activation in intestinal inflammation.

BMC Gastroenterol 2019 Jan 7;19(1). Epub 2019 Jan 7.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Tissue inflammation in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is associated with a decrease in local pH. The gene encoding G-protein-coupled receptor 65 (GPR65) has recently been reported to be a genetic risk factor for IBD. In response to extracellular acidification, proton activation of GPR65 stimulates cAMP and Rho signalling pathways. We aimed to analyse the clinical and functional relevance of the GPR65 associated single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs8005161.

Methods: 1138 individuals from a mixed cohort of IBD patients and healthy volunteers were genotyped for SNPs associated with GPR65 (rs8005161, rs3742704) and galactosylceramidase (rs1805078) by Taqman SNP assays. 2300 patients from the Swiss IBD Cohort Study (SIBDC) were genotyped for rs8005161 by mass spectrometry based SNP genotyping. IBD patients from the SIBDC carrying rs8005161 TT, CT, CC and non-IBD controls (CC) were recruited for functional studies. Human CD14+ cells were isolated from blood samples and subjected to an extracellular acidic pH shift, cAMP accumulation and RhoA activation were measured.

Results: In our mixed cohort, but not in SIBDC patients, the minor variant rs8005161 was significantly associated with UC. In SIBDC patients, we observed a consistent trend in increased disease severity in patients carrying the rs8005161-TT and rs8005161-CT alleles. No significant differences were observed in the pH associated activation of cAMP production between IBD (TT, CT, WT/CC) and non-IBD (WT/CC) genotype carriers upon an acidic extracellular pH shift. However, we observed significantly impaired RhoA activation after an extracellular acidic pH shift in IBD patients, irrespective of the rs8005161 allele.

Conclusions: The T allele of rs8005161 might confer a more severe disease course in IBD patients. Human monocytes from IBD patients showed impaired pH associated RhoA activation upon an acidic pH shift.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12876-018-0922-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6323805PMC
January 2019

Lack of the pH-sensing Receptor TDAG8 [GPR65] in Macrophages Plays a Detrimental Role in Murine Models of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

J Crohns Colitis 2019 Feb;13(2):245-258

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zürich, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: Tissue inflammation in inflammatory bowel diseases [IBD] is associated with local acidification. Genetic variants in the pH-sensing G protein-coupled receptor 65, also known as T cell death-associated gene 8 [TDAG8], have been implicated in IBD and other autoimmune diseases. Since the role of TDAG8 in intestinal inflammation remains unclear, we investigated the function of TDAG8 using murine colitis models.

Methods: The effects of TDAG8 deficiency were assessed in dextran sodium sulphate [DSS], IL-10-/-, and T cell transfer colitis murine models. RNA sequencing of acidosis-activated TDAG8-/- and wild-type [WT] peritoneal macrophages [MΦs] was performed.

Results: mRNA expression of IFN-γ, TNF, IL-6, and iNOS in TDAG8-/- mice increased significantly in colonic lymphoid patches and in colonic tissue in acute and chronic DSS colitis, respectively. In transfer colitis, there was a trend towards increased IFN-γ, iNOS, and IL-6 expression in mice receiving TDAG8-/- T cells. However, absence of TDAG8 did not lead to changes in clinical scores in the models tested. Increased numbers of infiltrating MΦs and neutrophils, but not CD3+ T cells, were observed in DSS-treated TDAG8-/- mice. No differences in infiltrating CD3+ T cells were observed between mice receiving TDAG8-/- or WT naïve T cells in transfer colitis. RNA sequencing showed that acidosis activation of TDAG8 in MΦs modulated the expression of immune response genes.

Conclusions: TDAG8 deficiency triggers colonic MΦ and neutrophil infiltration, and expression of pro-inflammatory mediators in DSS colitis models. In transfer colitis, mice receiving TDAG8-/- T cells presented a significantly higher spleen weight and a tendency towards increased expression of pro-inflammatory markers of monocyte/MΦ activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjy152DOI Listing
February 2019

SLC2A9 (GLUT9) mediates urate reabsorption in the mouse kidney.

Pflugers Arch 2018 12 13;470(12):1739-1751. Epub 2018 Aug 13.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Lausanne, 27 rue du Bugnon, 1011, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Uric acid (UA) is a metabolite of purine degradation and is involved in gout flairs and kidney stones formation. GLUT9 (SLC2A9) was previously shown to be a urate transporter in vitro. In vivo, humans carrying GLUT9 loss-of-function mutations have familial renal hypouricemia type 2, a condition characterized by hypouricemia, UA renal wasting associated with kidney stones, and an increased propensity to acute renal failure during strenuous exercise. Mice carrying a deletion of GLUT9 in the whole body are hyperuricemic and display a severe nephropathy due to intratubular uric acid precipitation. However, the precise role of GLUT9 in the kidney remains poorly characterized. We developed a mouse model in which GLUT9 was deleted specifically along the whole nephron in a tetracycline-inducible manner (subsequently called kidney-inducible KO or kiKO). The urate/creatinine ratio was increased as early as 4 days after induction of the KO and no GLUT9 protein was visible on kidney extracts. kiKO mice are morphologically identical to their wild-type littermates and had no spontaneous kidney stones. Twenty-four-hour urine collection revealed a major increase of urate urinary excretion rate and of the fractional excretion of urate, with no difference in urate concentration in the plasma. Polyuria was observed, but kiKO mice were still able to concentrate urine after water restriction. KiKO mice displayed lower blood pressure accompanied by an increased heart rate. Overall, these results indicate that GLUT9 is a crucial player in renal handling of urate in vivo and a putative target for uricosuric drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00424-018-2190-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224025PMC
December 2018

Glucocorticoid-loaded liposomes induce a pro-resolution phenotype in human primary macrophages to support chronic wound healing.

Biomaterials 2018 09 5;178:481-495. Epub 2018 Apr 5.

Chemical Biology and Therapeutics, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Basel, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Glucocorticoids are well established anti-inflammatory agents, however, their use to treat chronic inflammatory diseases is limited due to a number of serious side effects. For example, long-term local treatment of chronic wounds with glucocorticoids is prohibited by dysregulation of keratinocyte and fibroblast function, leading to skin thinning. Here, we developed and tested liposome formulations for local delivery of dexamethasone to primary human macrophages, to drive an anti-inflammatory/pro-resolution phenotype appropriate for tissue repair. The liposomes were loaded with the pro-drug dexamethasone-phosphate and surface-modified with either polyethylene glycol or phosphatidylserine. The latter was used to mimic phosphatidylserine-harboring apoptotic cells, which are substrates for efferocytosis, an essential pro-resolution function. Both formulations induced a dexamethasone-like gene expression signature in macrophages, decreased IL6 and TNFα release, increased secretion of thrombospondin 1 and increased efferocytosis activity. Phosphatidylserine-modified liposomes exhibited a faster uptake, a higher potency and a more robust phenotype induction than polyethylene glycol-modified liposomes. Fibroblast and keratinocyte cell cultures as well as a 3D skin equivalent model showed that liposomes applied locally to wounds are preferentially phagocytosed by macrophages. These findings indicate that liposomes, in particular upon shell modification with phosphatidylserine, promote dexamethasone delivery to macrophages and induce a phenotype suitable to support chronic wound healing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2018.04.006DOI Listing
September 2018

A natural ligand for the orphan receptor GPR15 modulates lymphocyte recruitment to epithelia.

Sci Signal 2017 Sep 12;10(496). Epub 2017 Sep 12.

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.

GPR15 is an orphan G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that is found in lymphocytes. It functions as a co-receptor of simian immunodeficiency virus and HIV-2 and plays a role in the trafficking of T cells to the lamina propria in the colon and to the skin. We describe the purification from porcine colonic tissue extracts of an agonistic ligand for GPR15 and its functional characterization. In humans, this ligand, which we named GPR15L, is encoded by the gene and has some features similar to the CC family of chemokines. was found in some human and mouse epithelia exposed to the environment, such as the colon and skin. In humans, was also abundant in the cervix. In skin, was readily detected after immunologic challenge and in human disease, for example, in psoriatic lesions. Allotransplantation of skin from -deficient mice onto wild-type mice resulted in substantial graft protection, suggesting nonredundant roles for GPR15 and GPR15L in the generation of effector T cell responses. Together, these data identify a receptor-ligand pair that is required for immune homeostasis at epithelia and whose modulation may represent an alternative approach to treating conditions affecting the skin such as psoriasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.aal0180DOI Listing
September 2017

Multidimensional pooled shRNA screens in human THP-1 cells identify candidate modulators of macrophage polarization.

PLoS One 2017 24;12(8):e0183679. Epub 2017 Aug 24.

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland.

Macrophages are key cell types of the innate immune system regulating host defense, inflammation, tissue homeostasis and cancer. Within this functional spectrum diverse and often opposing phenotypes are displayed which are dictated by environmental clues and depend on highly plastic transcriptional programs. Among these the 'classical' (M1) and 'alternative' (M2) macrophage polarization phenotypes are the best characterized. Understanding macrophage polarization in humans may reveal novel therapeutic intervention possibilities for chronic inflammation, wound healing and cancer. Systematic loss of function screening in human primary macrophages is limited due to lack of robust gene delivery methods and limited sample availability. To overcome these hurdles we developed cell-autonomous assays using the THP-1 cell line allowing genetic screens for human macrophage phenotypes. We screened 648 chromatin and signaling regulators with a pooled shRNA library for M1 and M2 polarization modulators. Validation experiments confirmed the primary screening results and identified OGT (O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) transferase) as a novel mediator of M2 polarization in human macrophages. Our approach offers a possible avenue to utilize comprehensive genetic tools to identify novel candidate genes regulating macrophage polarization in humans.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0183679PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5570424PMC
October 2017

Design and synthesis of potent and orally active GPR4 antagonists with modulatory effects on nociception, inflammation, and angiogenesis.

Bioorg Med Chem 2017 08 29;25(16):4512-4525. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Autoimmunity, Transplantation and Inflammation, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland.

GPR4, a G-protein coupled receptor, functions as a proton sensor being activated by extracellular acidic pH and has been implicated in playing a key role in acidosis associated with a variety of inflammatory conditions. An orally active GPR4 antagonist 39c was developed, starting from a high throughput screening hit 1. The compound shows potent cellular activity and is efficacious in animal models of angiogenesis, inflammation and pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2017.06.050DOI Listing
August 2017

Epithelial Gpr116 regulates pulmonary alveolar homeostasis via Gq/11 signaling.

JCI Insight 2017 Jun 2;2(11). Epub 2017 Jun 2.

Department of Pediatrics, Perinatal Institute, Section of Pulmonary Biology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Pulmonary function is dependent upon the precise regulation of alveolar surfactant. Alterations in pulmonary surfactant concentrations or function impair ventilation and cause tissue injury. Identification of the molecular pathways that sense and regulate endogenous alveolar surfactant concentrations, coupled with the ability to pharmacologically modulate them both positively and negatively, would be a major therapeutic advance for patients with acute and chronic lung diseases caused by disruption of surfactant homeostasis. The orphan adhesion GPCR GPR116 (also known as Adgrf5) is a critical regulator of alveolar surfactant concentrations. Here, we show that human and mouse GPR116 control surfactant secretion and reuptake in alveolar type II (AT2) cells by regulating guanine nucleotide-binding domain α q and 11 (Gq/11) signaling. Synthetic peptides derived from the ectodomain of GPR116 activated Gq/11-dependent inositol phosphate conversion, calcium mobilization, and cortical F-actin stabilization to inhibit surfactant secretion. AT2 cell-specific deletion of Gnaq and Gna11 phenocopied the accumulation of surfactant observed in Gpr116-/- mice. These data provide proof of concept that GPR116 is a plausible therapeutic target to modulate endogenous alveolar surfactant pools to treat pulmonary diseases associated with surfactant dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93700DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5453702PMC
June 2017

Hypoxia Positively Regulates the Expression of pH-Sensing G-Protein-Coupled Receptor OGR1 (GPR68).

Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016 Nov 25;2(6):796-810. Epub 2016 Jun 25.

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background & Aims: A novel family of proton-sensing G-protein-coupled receptors, including ovarian cancer G-protein-coupled receptor 1 (OGR1) (GPR68) has been identified to play a role in pH homeostasis. Hypoxia is known to change tissue pH as a result of anaerobic glucose metabolism through the stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α. We investigated how hypoxia regulates the expression of OGR1 in the intestinal mucosa and associated cells.

Methods: OGR1 expression in murine tumors, human colonic tissue, and myeloid cells was determined by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. The influence of hypoxia on OGR1 expression was studied in monocytes/macrophages and intestinal mucosa of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. Changes in OGR1 expression in MonoMac6 (MM6) cells under hypoxia were determined upon stimulation with tumor necrosis factor (TNF), in the presence or absence of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) inhibitors. To study the molecular mechanisms involved, chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of the OGR1 promoter was performed.

Results: OGR1 expression was significantly higher in tumor tissue compared with normal murine colon tissue. Hypoxia positively regulated the expression of OGR1 in MM6 cells, mouse peritoneal macrophages, primary human intestinal macrophages, and colonic tissue from IBD patients. In MM6 cells, hypoxia-enhanced TNF-induced OGR1 expression was reversed by inhibition of NF-κB. In addition to the effect of TNF and hypoxia, OGR1 expression was increased further at low pH. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that HIF-1α, but not NF-κB, binds to the promoter of OGR1 under hypoxia.

Conclusions: The enhancement of TNF- and hypoxia-induced OGR1 expression under low pH points to a positive feed-forward regulation of OGR1 activity in acidic conditions, and supports a role for OGR1 in the pathogenesis of IBD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmgh.2016.06.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5247318PMC
November 2016

Adhesion GPCR Function in Pulmonary Development and Disease.

Handb Exp Pharmacol 2016 ;234:309-327

Department of Pediatrics, Section of Pulmonary Biology, Perinatal Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, 45229, USA.

Classic G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) control multiple aspects of pulmonary physiology as demonstrated by loss-of-function experiments in mice and pharmacologic targeting of GPCRs for treatment of several pulmonary diseases. Emerging data demonstrate critical roles for members of the adhesion GPCR (aGPCR) family in pulmonary development, homeostasis, and disease. Although this field is still in its infancy, this chapter will review all available data regarding aGPCRs in pulmonary biology, with a particular focus on the aGPCR for which the most substantial data to date exist: Adgrf5.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-41523-9_14DOI Listing
June 2017

Identification of oncogenic driver mutations by genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 dropout screening.

BMC Genomics 2016 09 9;17(1):723. Epub 2016 Sep 9.

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland.

Background: Genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 dropout screens can identify genes whose knockout affects cell viability. Recent CRISPR screens detected thousands of essential genes required for cellular survival and key cellular processes; however discovering novel lineage-specific genetic dependencies from the many hits still remains a challenge.

Results: To assess whether CRISPR-Cas9 dropout screens can help identify cancer dependencies, we screened two human cancer cell lines carrying known and distinct oncogenic mutations using a genome-wide sgRNA library. We found that the gRNA targeting the driver mutation EGFR was one of the highest-ranking candidates in the EGFR-mutant HCC-827 lung adenocarcinoma cell line. Likewise, sgRNAs for NRAS and MAP2K1 (MEK1), a downstream kinase of mutant NRAS, were identified among the top hits in the NRAS-mutant neuroblastoma cell line CHP-212. Depletion of these genes targeted by the sgRNAs strongly correlated with the sensitivity to specific kinase inhibitors of the EGFR or RAS pathway in cell viability assays. In addition, we describe other dependencies such as TBK1 in HCC-827 cells and TRIB2 in CHP-212 cells which merit further investigation.

Conclusions: We show that genome-wide CRISPR dropout screens are suitable for the identification of oncogenic drivers and other essential genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-016-3042-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5016932PMC
September 2016

The pH-sensing receptor OGR1 improves barrier function of epithelial cells and inhibits migration in an acidic environment.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2015 Sep 23;309(6):G475-90. Epub 2015 Jul 23.

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland;

The pH-sensing receptor ovarian cancer G protein-coupled receptor 1 (OGR1; GPR68) is expressed in the gut. Inflammatory bowel disease is typically associated with a decrease in local pH, which may lead to altered epithelial barrier function and subsequent gastrointestinal repair involving epithelial cell adhesion and migration. As the mechanisms underlying the response to pH changes are not well understood, we have investigated OGR1-mediated, pH-dependent signaling pathways in intestinal epithelial cells. Caco-2 cells stably overexpressing OGR1 were created and validated as tools to study OGR1 signaling. Barrier function, migration, and proliferation were measured using electric cell-substrate impedance-sensing technology. Localization of the tight junction proteins zonula occludens protein 1 and occludin and the rearrangement of cytoskeletal actin were examined by confocal microscopy. Paracellular permeability and protein and gene expression analysis using DNA microarrays were performed on filter-grown Caco-2 monolayers. We report that an acidic pH shift from pH 7.8 to 6.6 improved barrier function and stimulated reorganization of filamentous actin with prominent basal stress fiber formation. Cell migration and proliferation during in vitro wound healing were inhibited. Gene expression analysis revealed significant upregulation of genes related to cytoskeleton remodeling, cell adhesion, and growth factor signaling. We conclude that acidic extracellular pH can have a signaling function and impact the physiology of intestinal epithelial cells. The deconstruction of OGR1-dependent signaling may aid our understanding of mucosal inflammation mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00408.2014DOI Listing
September 2015

PHYSIOLOGY. Regulation of breathing by CO₂ requires the proton-activated receptor GPR4 in retrotrapezoid nucleus neurons.

Science 2015 Jun 11;348(6240):1255-60. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

Department of Pharmacology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.

Blood gas and tissue pH regulation depend on the ability of the brain to sense CO2 and/or H(+) and alter breathing appropriately, a homeostatic process called central respiratory chemosensitivity. We show that selective expression of the proton-activated receptor GPR4 in chemosensory neurons of the mouse retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN) is required for CO2-stimulated breathing. Genetic deletion of GPR4 disrupted acidosis-dependent activation of RTN neurons, increased apnea frequency, and blunted ventilatory responses to CO2. Reintroduction of GPR4 into RTN neurons restored CO2-dependent RTN neuronal activation and rescued the ventilatory phenotype. Additional elimination of TASK-2 (K(2P)5), a pH-sensitive K(+) channel expressed in RTN neurons, essentially abolished the ventilatory response to CO2. The data identify GPR4 and TASK-2 as distinct, parallel, and essential central mediators of respiratory chemosensitivity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa0922DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5171229PMC
June 2015

G Protein-coupled pH-sensing Receptor OGR1 Is a Regulator of Intestinal Inflammation.

Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015 Jun;21(6):1269-81

*Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland; †Institute of Physiology, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland; ‡Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University Hospital Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland; and §Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland.

Background: A novel family of proton-sensing G protein-coupled receptors, including OGR1, GPR4, and TDAG8, was identified to be important for physiological pH homeostasis and inflammation. Thus, we determined the function of proton-sensing OGR1 in the intestinal mucosa.

Mtehods: OGR1 expression in colonic tissues was investigated in controls and patients with IBD. Expression of OGR1 upon cell activation was studied in the Mono Mac 6 (MM6) cell line and primary human and murine monocytes by real-time PCR. Ogr1 knockout mice were crossbred with Il-10 deficient mice and studied for more than 200 days. Microarray profiling was performed using Ogr1 and Ogr1 (WT) residential peritoneal macrophages.

Results: Patients with IBD expressed higher levels of OGR1 in the mucosa than non-IBD controls. Treatment of MM6 cells with TNF, led to significant upregulation of OGR1 expression, which could be reversed by the presence of NF-κB inhibitors. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed a significantly delayed onset and progression of rectal prolapse in female Ogr1/Il-10 mice. These mice displayed significantly less rectal prolapses. Upregulation of gene expression, mediated by OGR1, in response to extracellular acidification in mouse macrophages was enriched for inflammation and immune response, actin cytoskeleton, and cell-adhesion gene pathways.

Conclusions: OGR1 expression is induced in cells of human macrophage lineage and primary human monocytes by TNF. NF-κB inhibition reverses the induction of OGR1 expression by TNF. OGR1 deficiency protects from spontaneous inflammation in the Il-10 knockout model. Our data indicate a pathophysiological role for pH-sensing receptor OGR1 during the pathogenesis of mucosal inflammation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MIB.0000000000000375DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4450952PMC
June 2015

AXT914 a novel, orally-active parathyroid hormone-releasing drug in two early studies of healthy volunteers and postmenopausal women.

Bone 2014 Jul 24;64:204-10. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, MA, USA. Electronic address:

Antagonism of the calcium-sensing receptor in the parathyroid gland leads to parathyroid hormone (PTH) release. Calcilytics are a new class of molecules designed to exploit this mechanism. In order to mimic the known bone-anabolic pharmacokinetic (PK) profile of s.c. administered PTH, such molecules must trigger sharp, transient and robust release of PTH. The results of two early clinical studies with the orally-active calcilytic AXT914, a quinazolin-2ne derivative are reported. These were GCP-compliant, single and multiple dose studies of PK/PD and tolerability in healthy volunteers and postmenopausal women. The first study, examined single ascending doses (4 to 120 mg) and limited multiple doses (60 or 120 mgq.d. for 12 days) of AXT914. The second study was a randomized, double-blind, active- and placebo-controlled, 4-week repeat-dose parallel group study of healthy postmenopausal women (45 and 60 mg AXT914, placebo, 20 μg Forteo/teriparatide/PTH(1-34) fragment). AXT914 was well tolerated at all doses and reproducibly induced the desired PTH-release profiles. Yet, 4 weeks of 45 or 60 mg AXT914 did not result in the expected changes in circulating bone biomarkers seen with teriparatide. However total serum calcium levels increased above baseline in the 45 and 60 mg AXT914 treatment groups (8.0% and 10.7%, respectively), compared to that in the teriparatide and placebo groups (1.3% and 1.0%, respectively). Thus the trial was terminated after a planned interim analysis due to lack of effect on bone formation biomarkers and dose-limiting effects on serum calcium. In conclusion, AXT914 was well tolerated but the observed transient and reproducible PTH-release after repeat oral administration of AXT914 which showed an exposure profile close to that of s c. PTH, did not translate into a bone anabolic response and was associated with a persistent dose-related increase in serum calcium concentrations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bone.2014.04.015DOI Listing
July 2014

Identification and characterization of small molecule modulators of the Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 2 (EBI2) receptor.

J Med Chem 2014 Apr 15;57(8):3358-68. Epub 2014 Apr 15.

Global Discovery Chemistry; ‡Developmental & Molecular Pathways, §Analytical Sciences, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research , Basel 4002, Switzerland.

Oxysterols have recently been identified as natural ligands for a G protein-coupled receptor called EBI2 (aka GPR183) ( Nature 2011 , 475 , 524 ; 519 ). EBI2 is highly expressed in immune cells ( J. Biol. Chem. 2006 , 281 , 13199 ), and its activation has been shown to be critical for the adaptive immune response and has been genetically linked to autoimmune diseases such as type I diabetes ( Nature 2010 , 467 , 460 ). Here we describe the isolation of a potent small molecule antagonist for the EBI2 receptor. First, we identified a small molecule agonist NIBR51 (1), which enabled identification of inhibitors of receptor activation. One antagonist called NIBR127 (2) was used as a starting point for a medicinal chemistry campaign, which yielded NIBR189 (4m). This compound was extensively characterized in binding and various functional signaling assays. Furthermore, we have used 4m to block migration of a monocyte cell line called U937, suggesting a functional role of the oxysterol/EBI2 pathway in these immune cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jm4019355DOI Listing
April 2014

Target identification for a Hedgehog pathway inhibitor reveals the receptor GPR39.

Nat Chem Biol 2014 May 16;10(5):343-9. Epub 2014 Mar 16.

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Hedgehog (Hh) signaling determines cell fate during development and can drive tumorigenesis. We performed a screen for new compounds that can impinge on Hh signaling downstream of Smoothened (Smo). A series of cyclohexyl-methyl aminopyrimidine chemotype compounds ('CMAPs') were identified that could block pathway signaling in a Smo-independent manner. In addition to inhibiting Hh signaling, the compounds generated inositol phosphates through an unknown GPCR. Correlation of GPCR mRNA expression levels with compound activity across cell lines suggested the target to be the orphan receptor GPR39. RNA interference or cDNA overexpression of GPR39 demonstrated that the receptor is necessary for compound activity. We propose a model in which CMAPs activate GPR39, which signals to the Gli transcription factors and blocks signaling. In addition to the discovery of GPR39 as a new target that impinges on Hh signaling, we report on small-molecule modulators of the receptor that will enable in vitro interrogation of GPR39 signaling in different cellular contexts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.1481DOI Listing
May 2014

Transcriptional regulation and functional characterization of the oxysterol/EBI2 system in primary human macrophages.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2014 Apr 27;446(3):663-8. Epub 2014 Jan 27.

Developmental and Molecular Pathways, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Basel, Switzerland. Electronic address:

Oxysterols such as 7 alpha, 25-dihydroxycholesterol (7α,25-OHC) are natural ligands for the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced gene 2 (EBI2, aka GPR183), a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) highly expressed in immune cells and required for adaptive immune responses. Activation of EBI2 by specific oxysterols leads to chemotaxis of B cells in lymphoid tissues. While the ligand gradient necessary for this critical process of the adaptive immune response is established by a stromal cells subset here we investigate the involvement of the oxysterol/EBI2 system in the innate immune response. First, we show that primary human macrophages express EBI2 and the enzymes needed for ligand production such as cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (CH25H), sterol 27-hydroxylase (CYP27A1), and oxysterol 7α-hydroxylase (CYP7B1). Furthermore, challenge of monocyte-derived macrophages with lipopolysaccharides (LPS) triggers a strong up-regulation of CH25H and CYP7B1 in comparison to a transient increase in EBI2 expression. Stimulation of EBI2 expressed on macrophages leads to calcium mobilization and to directed cell migration. Supernatants of LPS-stimulated macrophages are able to stimulate EBI2 signaling indicating that an induction of CH25H, CYP27A1, and CYP7B1 results in an enhanced production and release of oxysterols into the cellular environment. This is a study characterizing the oxysterol/EBI2 pathway in primary monocyte-derived macrophages. Given the crucial functional role of macrophages in the innate immune response these results encourage further exploration of a possible link to systemic autoimmunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.01.069DOI Listing
April 2014

The proton-activated receptor GPR4 modulates glucose homeostasis by increasing insulin sensitivity.

Cell Physiol Biochem 2013 ;32(5):1403-16

Background: The proton-activated G protein-coupled receptor GPR4 is expressed in many tissues including white adipose tissue. GPR4 is activated by extracellular protons in the physiological pH range (i.e. pH 7.7 - 6.8) and is coupled to the production of cAMP.

Methods: We examined mice lacking GPR4 and examined glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in young and aged mice as well as in mice fed with a high fat diet. Expression profiles of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in white adipose tissue, liver and skeletal muscle was assessed.

Results: Here we show that mice lacking GPR4 have an improved intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test and increased insulin sensitivity. Insulin levels were comparable but leptin levels were increased in GPR4 KO mice. Gpr4-/- showed altered expression of PPARa, IL-6, IL-10, TNFa, and TGF-1b in skeletal muscle, white adipose tissue, and liver. High fat diet abolished the differences in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity between Gpr4+/+ and Gpr4-/- mice. In contrast, in aged mice (12 months old), the positive effect of GPR4 deficiency on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity was maintained. Liver and adipose tissue showed no major differences in the mRNA expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors between aged mice of both genotypes.

Conclusion: Thus, GPR4 deficiency improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. The effect may involve an altered balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory factors in insulin target tissues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000356578DOI Listing
August 2014

Identification of the C3a receptor (C3AR1) as the target of the VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 in rodent cells.

J Biol Chem 2013 Sep 12;288(38):27434-27443. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

From Novartis AG, Novartis Campus, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland. Electronic address:

TLQP-21, a peptide derived from VGF (non-acronymic) by proteolytic processing, has been shown to modulate energy metabolism, differentiation, and cellular response to stress. Although extensively investigated, the receptor for this endogenous peptide has not previously been described. This study describes the use of a series of studies that show G protein-coupled receptor-mediated biological activity of TLQP-21 signaling in CHO-K1 cells. Unbiased genome-wide sequencing of the transcriptome from responsive CHO-K1 cells identified a prioritized list of possible G protein-coupled receptors bringing about this activity. Further experiments using a series of defined receptor antagonists and siRNAs led to the identification of complement C3a receptor-1 (C3AR1) as a target for TLQP-21 in rodents. We have not been able to demonstrate so far that this finding is translatable to the human receptor. Our results are in line with a large number of physiological observations in rodent models of food intake and metabolic control, where TLQP-21 shows activity. In addition, the sensitivity of TLQP-21 signaling to pertussis toxin is consistent with the known signaling pathway of C3AR1. The binding of TLQP-21 to C3AR1 not only has effects on signaling but also modulates cellular functions, as TLQP-21 was shown to have a role in directing migration of mouse RAW264.7 cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M113.497214DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779738PMC
September 2013

A potent and selective S1P(1) antagonist with efficacy in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

Chem Biol 2012 Sep;19(9):1142-51

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.

Lymphocyte trafficking is critically regulated by the Sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor-1 (S1P(1)), a G protein-coupled receptor that has been highlighted as a promising therapeutic target in autoimmunity. Fingolimod (FTY720, Gilenya) is a S1P(1) receptor agonist that has recently been approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we report the discovery of NIBR-0213, a potent and selective S1P(1) antagonist that induces long-lasting reduction of peripheral blood lymphocyte counts after oral dosing. NIBR-0213 showed comparable therapeutic efficacy to fingolimod in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model of human MS. These data provide convincing evidence that S1P(1) antagonists are effective in EAE. In addition, the profile of NIBR-0213 makes it an attractive candidate to further study the consequences of S1P(1) receptor antagonism and to differentiate the effects from those of S1P(1) agonists.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.07.016DOI Listing
September 2012

The proton-activated G protein coupled receptor OGR1 acutely regulates the activity of epithelial proton transport proteins.

Cell Physiol Biochem 2012 3;29(3-4):313-24. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Institute of Physiology and Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

The Ovarian cancer G protein-coupled Receptor 1 (OGR1; GPR68) is proton-sensitive in the pH range of 6.8 - 7.8. However, its physiological function is not defined to date. OGR1 signals via inositol trisphosphate and intracellular calcium, albeit downstream events are unclear. To elucidate OGR1 function further, we transfected HEK293 cells with active OGR1 receptor or a mutant lacking 5 histidine residues (H5Phe-OGR1). An acute switch of extracellular pH from 8 to 7.1 (10 nmol/l vs 90 nmol/l protons) stimulated NHE and H(+)-ATPase activity in OGR1-transfected cells, but not in H5Phe-OGR1-transfected cells. ZnCl(2) and CuCl(2) that both inhibit OGR1 reduced the stimulatory effect. The activity was blocked by chelerythrine, whereas the ERK1/2 inhibitor PD 098059 had no inhibitory effect. OGR1 activation increased intracellular calcium in transfected HEK293 cells. We next isolated proximal tubules from kidneys of wild-type and OGR1-deficient mice and measured the effect of extracellular pH on NHE activity in vitro. Deletion of OGR1 affected the pH-dependent proton extrusion, however, in the opposite direction as expected from cell culture experiments. Upregulated expression of the pH-sensitive kinase Pyk2 in OGR1 KO mouse proximal tubule cells may compensate for the loss of OGR1. Thus, we present the first evidence that OGR1 modulates the activity of two major plasma membrane proton transport systems. OGR1 may be involved in the regulation of plasma membrane transport proteins and intra- and/or extracellular pH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000338486DOI Listing
August 2012

Reduced pathological angiogenesis and tumor growth in mice lacking GPR4, a proton sensing receptor.

Angiogenesis 2011 Dec 2;14(4):533-44. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Forum 1 Novartis Campus, CH-4056, Basel, Switzerland.

The G protein-coupled receptor GPR4 is activated by acidic pH and recent evidence indicates that it is expressed in endothelial cells. In agreement with these reports, we observe a high correlation of GPR4 mRNA expression with endothelial marker genes, and we confirm expression and acidic pH dependent function of GPR4 in primary human vascular endothelial cells. GPR4-deficient mice were generated; these are viable and fertile and show no gross abnormalities. However, these animals show a significantly reduced angiogenic response to VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), but not to bFGF (basic fibroblast growth factor), in a growth factor implant model. Accordingly, in two different orthotopic models, tumor growth is strongly reduced in mice lacking GPR4. Histological analysis of tumors indicates reduced tumor cell proliferation as well as altered vessel morphology, length and density. Moreover, GPR4 deficiency results in reduced VEGFR2 (VEGF Receptor 2) levels in endothelial cells, accounting, at least in part, for the observed phenotype. Our data suggest that endothelial cells sense local tissue acidosis via GPR4 and that this signal is required to generate a full angiogenic response to VEGF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10456-011-9238-9DOI Listing
December 2011
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