EP1 prostanoid receptor coupling to Gi/o up-regulates the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α through activation of a phosphoinositide-3 kinase signaling pathway

Ruyue Ji, Chih Ling Chou, Wei Xu, Xiao Bo Chen, David F. Woodward, John W. Regan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The EP1 prostanoid receptor is one of four subtypes whose cognate physiological ligand is prostaglandin-E2 (PGE2). It is in the family of G-protein-coupled receptors and is known to activate Ca2+ signaling, although relatively little is known about other aspects of E-type prostanoid receptor (EP) 1 receptor signaling. In human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells expressing human EP1 receptors, we now show that PGE2 stimulation of the EP1 receptor up-regulates the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), which can be completely blocked by pertussis toxin, indicating coupling to Gi/o. This up-regulation of HIF-1α occurs under normoxic conditions and could be inhibited with wortmannin, Akt inhibitor, and rapamycin, consistent with the activation of a phosphoinositide-3 kinase/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, respectively. In contrast to the hypoxia-induced up-regulation of HIF-1α, which involves decreased protein degradation, the up-regulation of HIF-1α by the EP1 receptor was associated with the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (rpS6), suggesting activation of the ribosomal S6 kinases and increased translation. Stimulation of endogenous EP1 receptors in human HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells recapitulated the normoxic up-regulation of HIF-1α observed in HEK cells, was sensitive to pertussis toxin, and involved the activation of mTOR signaling and phosphorylation of rpS6. In addition, treatment of HepG2 cells with sulprostone, an EP1-selective agonist, up-regulated the mRNA expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-C, a HIF-regulated gene. HIF-1α is known to promote tumor growth and metastasis and is often up-regulated in cancer. Our findings provide a potential mechanism by which increased PGE2 biosynthesis could up-regulate the expression of HIF-1α and promote tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1036
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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