Quantitative expression profiling of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in metastatic melanoma: the constitutively active orphan GPCR GPR18 as novel drug target

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2011 Feb;24(1):207-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-148X.2010.00781.x. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have been implicated in the tumorigenesis and metastasis of human cancers and are considered amongst the most desirable targets for drug development. Utilizing a robust quantitative PCR array, we quantified expression of 94 human GPCRs, including 75 orphan GPCRs and 19 chemokine receptors, and 36 chemokine ligands, in 40 melanoma metastases from different individuals and benign nevi. Inter-metastatic site comparison revealed that orphan GPR174 and CCL28 are statistically significantly overexpressed in subcutaneous metastases, while P2RY5 is overexpressed in brain metastases. Comparison between metastases (all three metastatic sites) and benign nevi revealed that 16 genes, including six orphan receptors (GPR18, GPR34, GPR119, GPR160, GPR183 and P2RY10) and chemokine receptors CCR5, CXCR4, and CXCR6, were statistically significantly differentially expressed. Subsequent functional experiments in yeast and melanoma cells indicate that GPR18, the most abundantly overexpressed orphan GPCR in all melanoma metastases, is constitutively active and inhibits apoptosis, indicating an important role for GPR18 in tumor cell survival. GPR18 and five other orphan GPCRs with yet unknown biological function may be considered potential novel anticancer targets in metastatic melanoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • Gene Silencing / drug effects
  • Genes, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Nevus / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • GPR174 protein, human
  • GPR18 protein, human
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled