Progesterone activates GPR126 to promote breast cancer development via the Gi pathway

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Apr 12;119(15):e2117004119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2117004119. Epub 2022 Apr 8.


GPR126 is a member of the adhesion G protein-coupled receptors (aGPCRs) that is essential for the normal development of diverse tissues, and its mutations are implicated in various pathological processes. Here, through screening 34 steroid hormones and their derivatives for cAMP production, we found that progesterone (P4) and 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17OHP) could specifically activate GPR126 and trigger its downstream Gi signaling by binding to the ligand pocket in the seven-transmembrane domain of the C-terminal fragment of GPR126. A detailed mutagenesis screening according to a computational simulated structure model indicated that K1001ECL2 and F1012ECL2 are key residues that specifically recognize 17OHP but not progesterone. Finally, functional analysis revealed that progesterone-triggered GPR126 activation promoted cell growth in vitro and tumorigenesis in vivo, which involved Gi-SRC pathways in a triple-negative breast cancer model. Collectively, our work identified a membrane receptor for progesterone/17OHP and delineated the mechanisms by which GPR126 participated in potential tumor progression in triple-negative breast cancer, which will enrich our understanding of the functions and working mechanisms of both the aGPCR member GPR126 and the steroid hormone progesterone.

Keywords: 17OHP; GPR126; Gi; TNBC; progesterone.

MeSH terms

  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Progesterone* / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone* / genetics
  • Receptors, Progesterone* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism


  • ADGRG6 protein, human
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Progesterone
  • 17-alpha-Hydroxyprogesterone