PTH1 receptor is involved in mediating cellular response to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52583. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052583. Epub 2012 Dec 27.


The molecular pathways by which long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) influence skeletal health remain elusive. Both LCPUFA and parathyroid hormone type 1 receptor (PTH1R) are known to be involved in bone metabolism while any direct link between the two is yet to be established. Here we report that LCPUFA are capable of direct, PTH1R dependent activation of extracellular ligand-regulated kinases (ERK). From a wide range of fatty acids studied, varying in chain length, saturation, and position of double bonds, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic fatty acids (DHA) caused the highest ERK phosphorylation. Moreover, EPA potentiated the effect of parathyroid hormone (PTH(1-34)) in a superagonistic manner. EPA or DHA dependent ERK phosphorylation was inhibited by the PTH1R antagonist and by knockdown of PTH1R. Inhibition of PTH1R downstream signaling molecules, protein kinases A (PKA) and C (PKC), reduced EPA and DHA dependent ERK phosphorylation indicating that fatty acids predominantly activate G-protein pathway and not the β-arrestin pathway. Using picosecond time-resolved fluorescence microscopy and a genetically engineered PTH1R sensor (PTH-CC), we detected conformational responses to EPA similar to those caused by PTH(1-34). PTH1R antagonist blocked the EPA induced conformational response of the PTH-CC. Competitive binding studies using fluorescence anisotropy technique showed that EPA and DHA competitively bind to and alter the affinity of PTH1 receptor to PTH(1-34) leading to a superagonistic response. Finally, we showed that EPA stimulates protein kinase B (Akt) phosphorylation in a PTH1R-dependent manner and affects the osteoblast survival pathway, by inhibiting glucocorticoid-induced cell death. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that LCPUFAs, EPA and DHA, can activate PTH1R receptor at nanomolar concentrations and consequently provide a putative molecular mechanism for the action of fatty acids in bone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / chemistry
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / chemistry
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Parathyroid Hormone / metabolism
  • Parathyroid Hormone-Related Protein / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Conformation / drug effects
  • Protein Kinase C / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Receptor, Parathyroid Hormone, Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Parathyroid Hormone, Type 1 / deficiency
  • Receptor, Parathyroid Hormone, Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Parathyroid Hormone, Type 1 / metabolism*


  • PTH1R protein, human
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Parathyroid Hormone-Related Protein
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptor, Parathyroid Hormone, Type 1
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases