BACKGROUND: 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.

METHODS: 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.

RESULT: 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.

CONCLUSION: 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.

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Published in Molecular Cancer, v. 13, article 233, p. 1-12.

© 2014 Lin et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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