Genetic Variations in the Human G Protein-coupled Receptor Class C, Group 6, Member A (GPRC6A) Control Cell Surface Expression and Function

J Biol Chem. 2017 Jan 27;292(4):1524-1534. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.756577. Epub 2016 Dec 16.


GPRC6A is a G protein-coupled receptor activated by l-amino acids, which, based on analyses of knock-out mice, has been suggested to have physiological functions in metabolism and testicular function. The human ortholog is, however, mostly retained intracellularly in contrast to the cell surface-expressed murine and goldfish orthologs. The latter orthologs are Gq-coupled and lead to intracellular accumulation of inositol phosphates and calcium release. In the present study we cloned the bonobo chimpanzee GPRC6A receptor, which is 99% identical to the human receptor, and show that it is cell surface-expressed and functional. By analyses of chimeric human/mouse and human/bonobo receptors, bonobo receptor mutants, and the single nucleotide polymorphism database at NCBI, we identify an insertion/deletion variation in the third intracellular loop responsible for the intracellular retention and lack of function of the human ortholog. Genetic analyses of the 1000 genome database and the Inter99 cohort of 6,000 Danes establish the distribution of genotypes among ethnic groups, showing that the cell surface-expressed and functional variant is much more prevalent in the African population than in European and Asian populations and that this variant is partly linked with a stop codon early in the receptor sequence (rs6907580, amino acid position 57). In conclusion, our data solve a more than decade-old question of why the cloned human GPRC6A receptor is not cell surface-expressed and functional and provide a genetic framework to study human phenotypic traits in large genome sequencing projects linked with physiological measurement and biomarkers.

Keywords: 7-helix receptor; G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR); GPRC6A receptor; cell surface receptor; human genetics; molecular pharmacology; third intracellular loop.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • INDEL Mutation*
  • Mice
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / genetics


  • GPRC6A protein, human
  • GPRC6A protein, mouse
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled