Gene Summary

Gene:GRM1; glutamate receptor, metabotropic 1
Aliases: MGLU1, GPRC1A, MGLUR1, SCAR13, PPP1R85
Summary:This gene encodes a metabotropic glutamate receptor that functions by activating phospholipase C. L-glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and activates both ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors. Glutamatergic neurotransmission is involved in most aspects of normal brain function and can be perturbed in many neuropathologic conditions. The canonical alpha isoform of the encoded protein is a disulfide-linked homodimer whose activity is mediated by a G-protein-coupled phosphatidylinositol-calcium second messenger system. This gene may be associated with many disease states, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and breast cancer. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms. [provided by RefSeq, May 2013]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:metabotropic glutamate receptor 1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 11 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (20)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 11 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Skin Cancer
  • Genetic Therapy
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • RT-PCR
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Receptors, Gastrointestinal Hormone
  • Signal Transduction
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Melanoma
  • Riluzole
  • Breast Cancer
  • Gene Expression
  • Tumor Markers
  • Mutation
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Phosphorylation
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • Western Blotting
  • Genotype
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Triple Negative Breast Cancer
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Receptors, Somatostatin
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Phenotype
  • Melanocytes
  • ras Proteins
  • Untranslated Regions
  • Apoptosis
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Chromosome 6
  • Immunohistochemistry
Tag cloud generated 11 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: GRM1 (cancer-related)

Ali S, Shourideh M, Koochekpour S
Identification of novel GRM1 mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms in prostate cancer cell lines and tissues.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(7):e103204 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1) signaling has been implicated in benign and malignant disorders including prostate cancer (PCa). To further explore the role of genetic alterations of GRM1 in PCa, we screened the entire human GRM1 gene including coding sequence, exon-intron junctions, and flanking untranslated regions (UTRs) for the presence of mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in several PCa cell lines and matched tumor-normal tissues from Caucasian Americans (CAs) and African Americans (AAs). We used bidirectional sequencing, allele-specific PCR, and bioinformatics to identify the genetic changes in GRM1 and to predict their functional role. A novel missense mutation identified at C1744T (582 Pro > Ser) position of GRM1 gene in a primary AA-PCa cell line (E006AA) was predicted to affect the protein stability and functions. Another novel mutation identified at exon-intron junction of exon-8 in C4-2B cell line resulted in alteration of the GRM1 splicing donor site. In addition, we found missense SNP at T2977C (993 Ser > Pro) position and multiple non-coding mutations and SNPs in 3'-UTR of GRM1 gene in PCa cell lines and tissues. These novel mutations may contribute to the disease by alterations in GRM1 gene splicing, receptor activation, and post-receptor downstream signaling.

Nord KH, Lilljebjörn H, Vezzi F, et al.
GRM1 is upregulated through gene fusion and promoter swapping in chondromyxoid fibroma.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(5):474-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glutamate receptors are well-known actors in the central and peripheral nervous systems, and altered glutamate signaling is implicated in several neurological and psychiatric disorders. It is increasingly recognized that such receptors may also have a role in tumor growth. Here we provide direct evidence of aberrant glutamate signaling in the development of a locally aggressive bone tumor, chondromyxoid fibroma (CMF). We subjected a series of CMFs to whole-genome mate-pair sequencing and RNA sequencing and found that the glutamate receptor gene GRM1 recombines with several partner genes through promoter swapping and gene fusion events. The GRM1 coding region remains intact, and 18 of 20 CMFs (90%) showed a more than 100-fold and up to 1,400-fold increase in GRM1 expression levels compared to control tissues. Our findings unequivocally demonstrate that direct targeting of GRM1 is a necessary and highly specific driver event for CMF development.

Speyer CL, Hachem AH, Assi AA, et al.
Metabotropic glutamate receptor-1 as a novel target for the antiangiogenic treatment of breast cancer.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(3):e88830 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are normally expressed in the central nervous system, where they mediate neuronal excitability and neurotransmitter release. Certain cancers, including melanoma and gliomas, express various mGluR subtypes that have been implicated as playing a role in disease progression. Recently, we detected metabotropic glutamate receptor-1 (gene: GRM1; protein: mGluR1) in breast cancer and found that it plays a role in the regulation of cell proliferation and tumor growth. In addition to cancer cells, brain endothelial cells express mGluR1. In light of these studies, and because angiogenesis is both a prognostic indicator in cancer correlating with a poorer prognosis and a potential therapeutic target, we explored a potential role for mGluR1 in mediating endothelial cell (EC) proliferation and tumor-induced angiogenesis. GRM1 and mGluR1 were detected in various types of human ECs and, using mGluR1-specific inhibitors or shRNA silencing, we demonstrated that EC growth and Matrigel tube formation are dependent on mGluR1 signaling. In addition, loss of mGluR1 activity leads to reduced angiogenesis in a murine Matrigel sponge implant model as well as a murine tumor model. These results suggest a role for mGluR1 in breast cancer as a pro-angiogenic factor as well as a mediator of tumor progression. They also suggest mGluR1 as a potential new molecular target for the anti-angiogenic therapy of breast cancer.

Sherman SK, Maxwell JE, Carr JC, et al.
GIPR expression in gastric and duodenal neuroendocrine tumors.
J Surg Res. 2014; 190(2):587-93 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Compounds targeting somatostatin-receptor-type-2 (SSTR2) are useful for small bowel neuroendocrine tumor (SBNET) and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (PNET) imaging and treatment. We recently characterized expression of 13 cell surface receptor genes in SBNETs and PNETs, identifying three drug targets (GIPR, OXTR, and OPRK1). This study set out to characterize expression of this gene panel in the less common neuroendocrine tumors of the stomach and duodenum (gastric and duodenal neuroendocrine tumors [GDNETs]).
METHODS: Primary tumors and adjacent normal tissue were collected at surgery, RNA was extracted, and expression of 13 target genes was determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Expression was normalized to GAPDH and POLR2A internal control genes. Expression relative to normal tissue (ddCT) and absolute expression (dCT) were calculated. Wilcoxon tests compared median expression with false discovery rate correction for multiple comparisons.
RESULTS: Gene expression was similar in two gastric and seven duodenal tumors, and these were analyzed together. Like SBNETs (n = 63) and PNETs (n = 51), GDNETs showed significant overexpression compared with normal tissue of BRS3, GIPR, GRM1, GPR113, OPRK1, and SSTR2 (P < 0.05 for all). Of these, SSTR2 had the highest absolute expression in GDNETs (median dCT 4.0). Absolute expression of BRS3, GRM1, GPR113, and OPRK1 was significantly lower than SSTR2 in GDNETs (P < 0.05 for all), whereas expression of GIPR was similar to SSTR2 (median 4.3, P = 0.4).
CONCLUSIONS: As in SBNETs and PNETs, GIPR shows absolute expression close to SSTR2 but has greater overexpression relative to normal tissue (21.1 versus 3.5-fold overexpression). We conclude that GIPR could provide an improved signal-to-noise ratio for imaging versus SSTR2 and represents a promising novel therapeutic target in GDNETs.

Banda M, Speyer CL, Semma SN, et al.
Metabotropic glutamate receptor-1 contributes to progression in triple negative breast cancer.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(1):e81126 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
TNBC is an aggressive breast cancer subtype that does not express hormone receptors (estrogen and progesterone receptors, ER and PR) or amplified human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2), and there currently exist no targeted therapies effective against it. Consequently, finding new molecular targets in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is critical to improving patient outcomes. Previously, we have detected the expression of metabotropic glutamate receptor-1 (gene: GRM1; protein: mGluR1) in TNBC and observed that targeting glutamatergic signaling inhibits TNBC growth both in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we explored how mGluR1 contributes to TNBC progression, using the isogenic MCF10 progression series, which models breast carcinogenesis from nontransformed epithelium to malignant basal-like breast cancer. We observed that mGluR1 is expressed in human breast cancer and that in MCF10A cells, which model nontransformed mammary epithelium, but not in MCF10AT1 cells, which model atypical ductal hyperplasia, mGluR1 overexpression results in increased proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and invasiveness. In contrast, mGluR1 knockdown results in a decrease in these activities in malignant MCF10CA1d cells. Similarly, pharmacologic inhibition of glutamatergic signaling in MCF10CA1d cells results in a decrease in proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. Finally, transduction of MCF10AT1 cells, which express c-Ha-ras, using a lentiviral construct expressing GRM1 results in transformation to carcinoma in 90% of resultant xenografts. We conclude that mGluR1 cooperates with other factors in hyperplastic mammary epithelium to contribute to TNBC progression and therefore propose that glutamatergic signaling represents a promising new molecular target for TNBC therapy.

Yang W, Maolin H, Jinmin Z, Zhe W
High expression of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4: correlation with clinicopathologic characteristics and prognosis of osteosarcoma.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2014; 140(3):419-26 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Analyze protein and gene expression of mGluRs (mGluR1, mGluR5, mGluR4) in osteosarcoma tissues and discuss the relation between expression level and clinical characteristics of osteosarcoma, and study the clinical significance.
METHODS: Detect protein and mRNA expression level of mGluRs (mGluR1, mGluR5, mGluR4) in 40 osteosarcoma tissues and the corresponding adjacent normal tissues by Western blot and RT-PCR accordingly. Immunohistochemistry was adopted to detect the expression of mGluRs (mGluR1, mGluR5, mGluR4) in 118 paraffin embedded osteosarcoma tissues and eight normal bone tissues. Then, the correlation between the expression and clinical characteristics of patients was analyzed. Furthermore, survival analysis of osteosarcoma was performed to study the relation between expression level of mGluRs and patient prognosis.
RESULTS: No correlation of mGluR1 and mGluR5 with clinicopathologic characteristics of osteosarcoma was found. Statistical analysis demonstrated that the expression level of mGluR4 shared no significant correlation with gender, age, histologic type and tumor location of patient, but was related to Enneking stage and tumor metastasis (P < 0.05). High mGluR4 expression is more frequently noted in the osteosarcoma tissues with higher Enneking stage and metastasis. The results of Western blot and RT-PCR indicated a significantly increased expression level of mGluR4 gene and protein in osteosarcoma tissues compared with normal tissues. Though higher gene and protein expression of mGluR5 and mGluR1 were also indicated in osteosarcoma tissues compared with normal tissues, no statistical significance was noted for the difference (P > 0.05). According to the survival analysis of 118 osteosarcoma patients, cases in the mGluR4 high-expression group showed inferior disease-free survival rate and poorer overall survival rate.
CONCLUSION: High expression of mGluR4 in osteosarcoma tissues is related to poor prognosis, thus holding certain reference value for estimating prognosis of osteosarcoma patients.

Wall BA, Wangari-Talbot J, Shin SS, et al.
Disruption of GRM1-mediated signalling using riluzole results in DNA damage in melanoma cells.
Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2014; 27(2):263-74 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Gain of function of the neuronal receptor, metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1), was sufficient to induce melanocytic transformation in vitro and spontaneous melanoma development in vivo when ectopically expressed in melanocytes. The human form of this receptor, GRM1, has been shown to be ectopically expressed in a subset of human melanomas but not benign nevi or normal melanocytes, suggesting that misregulation of GRM1 is involved in the pathogenesis of certain human melanomas. Sustained stimulation of Grm1 by the ligand, glutamate, is required for the maintenance of transformed phenotypes in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo. In this study, we investigate the mechanism of an inhibitor of glutamate release, riluzole, on human melanoma cells that express metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1). Various in vitro assays conducted show that inhibition of glutamate release in several human melanoma cell lines resulted in an increase of oxidative stress and DNA damage response markers.

Sherman SK, Carr JC, Wang D, et al.
Gastric inhibitory polypeptide receptor (GIPR) is a promising target for imaging and therapy in neuroendocrine tumors.
Surgery. 2013; 154(6):1206-13; discussion 1214 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Ligands binding the somatostatin receptor type 2 (SSTR2) are useful for imaging and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), but not all tumors express high levels of these receptors. The aim of this study was to evaluate gene expression of new therapeutic targets in NETs relative to SSTR2.
METHODS: RNA was extracted from 103 primary small bowel and pancreatic NETs, matched normal tissue, and 123 metastases. Expression of 12 candidate genes was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction normalized to internal controls; candidate gene expression was compared with SSTR2.
RESULTS: Relative to normal tissue, primary NET expression of SSTR2, GPR98, BRS3, GIPR, GRM1, and OPRK1 were increased by 3, 8, 13, 13, 17, and 20-fold, respectively. Similar changes were found in metastases. Although most candidate genes showed lesser absolute expressions than SSTR2, absolute GIPR expression was closest to SSTR2 (mean dCT 3.6 vs. 2.7, P = .01). Absolute OPRK1 and OXTR expression varied greatly by primary tumor type and was close to SSTR2 in small bowel NETs but not pancreatic NETs.
CONCLUSION: Compared with the current treatment standard SSTR2, GIPR has only somewhat lesser absolute gene expression in tumor tissue but much lesser expression in normal tissue, making it a promising new target for NET imaging and therapy.

Mehta MS, Dolfi SC, Bronfenbrener R, et al.
Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 expression and its polymorphic variants associate with breast cancer phenotypes.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(7):e69851 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Several epidemiological studies have suggested a link between melanoma and breast cancer. Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1), which is involved in many cellular processes including proliferation and differentiation, has been implicated in melanomagenesis, with ectopic expression of GRM1 causing malignant transformation of melanocytes. This study was undertaken to evaluate GRM1 expression and polymorphic variants in GRM1 for associations with breast cancer phenotypes. Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in GRM1 were evaluated for associations with breast cancer clinicopathologic variables. GRM1 expression was evaluated in human normal and cancerous breast tissue and for in vitro response to hormonal manipulation. Genotyping was performed on genomic DNA from over 1,000 breast cancer patients. Rs6923492 and rs362962 genotypes associated with age at diagnosis that was highly dependent upon the breast cancer molecular phenotype. The rs362962 TT genotype also associated with risk of estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive breast cancer. In vitro analysis showed increased GRM1 expression in breast cancer cells treated with estrogen or the combination of estrogen and progesterone, but reduced GRM1 expression with tamoxifen treatment. Evaluation of GRM1 expression in human breast tumor specimens demonstrated significant correlations between GRM1 staining with tissue type and molecular features. Furthermore, analysis of gene expression data from primary breast tumors showed that high GRM1 expression correlated with a shorter distant metastasis-free survival as compared to low GRM1 expression in tamoxifen-treated patients. Additionally, induced knockdown of GRM1 in an estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cell line correlated with reduced cell proliferation. Taken together, these findings suggest a functional role for GRM1 in breast cancer.

DiRaddo JO, Pshenichkin S, Gelb T, Wroblewski JT
Two newly identified exons in human GRM1 express a novel splice variant of metabotropic glutamate 1 receptor.
Gene. 2013; 519(2):367-73 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
To date, five human metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) 1 receptor splice variants (1a, 1b, 1d, 1f, and 1g) have been described, all of which involve alternative C-terminal splicing. mGlu1a receptor contains a long C-terminal domain (341 amino acids), which has been shown to scaffold with several proteins and contribute to the structure of the post-synaptic density. However, several shorter mGlu1 receptor splice variants lack the sequence required for these interactions, and no major functional differences between these short splice variants have been described. By using RT-PCR we have shown that two human melanoma cell lines express both mGlu1a and mGlu1b receptors. In addition, using 3'RACE, we identified three previously unknown mGlu1 receptor mRNAs. Two differ in the length of their 3' untranslated region (UTR), and encode the same predicted protein as mGlu1g receptor-the shortest of all mGlu1 receptor splice variants. The third mRNA, named mGlu1h, encodes a predicted C-terminal splice variant of 10 additional amino acids. mGlu1h mRNA was observed in two different melanoma cell lines and is overexpressed, compared with melanoma precursor cells, melanocytes. Most importantly, this new splice variant, mGlu1h receptor, is encoded by two previously unidentified exons located within the human GRM1 gene. Additionally, these new exons are found exclusively within the GRM1 genes of higher primates and are highly conserved. Therefore, we hypothesize that mGlu1h receptors play a distinct role in primate glutamatergic signaling.

Reimand J, Bader GD
Systematic analysis of somatic mutations in phosphorylation signaling predicts novel cancer drivers.
Mol Syst Biol. 2013; 9:637 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Large-scale cancer genome sequencing has uncovered thousands of gene mutations, but distinguishing tumor driver genes from functionally neutral passenger mutations is a major challenge. We analyzed 800 cancer genomes of eight types to find single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) that precisely target phosphorylation machinery, important in cancer development and drug targeting. Assuming that cancer-related biological systems involve unexpectedly frequent mutations, we used novel algorithms to identify genes with significant phosphorylation-associated SNVs (pSNVs), phospho-mutated pathways, kinase networks, drug targets, and clinically correlated signaling modules. We highlight increased survival of patients with TP53 pSNVs, hierarchically organized cancer kinase modules, a novel pSNV in EGFR, and an immune-related network of pSNVs that correlates with prolonged survival in ovarian cancer. Our findings include multiple actionable cancer gene candidates (FLNB, GRM1, POU2F1), protein complexes (HCF1, ASF1), and kinases (PRKCZ). This study demonstrates new ways of interpreting cancer genomes and presents new leads for cancer research.

Martino JJ, Wall BA, Mastrantoni E, et al.
Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1) is an oncogene in epithelial cells.
Oncogene. 2013; 32(37):4366-76 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Non-neuronal expression of components of the glutamatergic system has been increasingly observed, and our laboratory previously had demonstrated the etiological role of ectopically expressed metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1/mGluR1) in mouse models of melanoma. We hypothesize that inappropriate glutamatergic signaling in other cell types can dysregulate growth leading to transformation and tumorigenesis. As most cancers are carcinomas, we selected an immortalized primary baby mouse kidney (iBMK) cell model to assess whether Grm1 can transform epithelial cells. These iBMK cells, engineered to be immortal yet nontumorigenic and retaining normal epithelial characteristics, were used as recipients for exogenous Grm1 cDNA. Several stable Grm1-expressing clones were isolated and the Grm1-receptors were shown to be functional, as evidenced by the accumulation of second messengers in response to Grm1 agonist. Additionally activated by agonist were mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and AKT/protein kinase B signaling cascades, the major intracellular pathways shown by many investigators to be critical in melanomagenesis and other neoplasms. These Grm1-iBMK cells exhibited enhanced cell proliferation in in vitro methylthiazolyldiphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays and significant tumorigenicity in in vivo allografts. Persistent Grm1 expression was required for the maintenance of the in vivo tumorigenic phenotype as demonstrated by an inducible Grm1-silencing RNA. These are the first results that indicate that Grm1 can be an oncogene in epithelial cells. In addition, relevance to human disease in the corresponding tumor type of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) may be suggested by observed expression of GRM1/mGluR1 in a number of RCC tumor biopsy samples and cell lines, and the effects of GRM1 modulation on tumorigenicity therein. Moreover, RCC cell lines exhibited elevated levels of extracellular glutamate, and some lines responded to drugs, which modulate the glutamatergic system. These findings imply a possible role for glutamate signaling apparatus in RCC cell growth, and that the glutamatergic system may be a therapeutic target in RCC.

Abushahba W, Olabisi OO, Jeong BS, et al.
Non-canonical Smads phosphorylation induced by the glutamate release inhibitor, riluzole, through GSK3 activation in melanoma.
PLoS One. 2012; 7(10):e47312 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Riluzole, an inhibitor of glutamate release, has shown the ability to inhibit melanoma cell xenograft growth. A phase 0 clinical trial of riluzole as a single agent in patients with melanoma resulted in involution of tumors associated with inhibition of both the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phophoinositide-3-kinase/AKT (PI3K/AKT) pathways in 34% of patients. In the present study, we demonstrate that riluzole inhibits AKT-mediated glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) phosphorylation in melanoma cell lines. Because we have demonstrated that GSK3 is involved in the phosphorylation of two downstream effectors of transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ), Smad2 and Smad3, at their linker domain, our aim was to determine whether riluzole could induce GSK3β-mediated linker phosphorylation of Smad2 and Smad3. We present evidence that riluzole increases Smad2 and Smad3 linker phosphorylation at the cluster of serines 245/250/255 and serine 204 respectively. Using GSK3 inhibitors and siRNA knock-down, we demonstrate that the mechanism of riluzole-induced Smad phosphorylation involved GSK3β. In addition, GSK3β could phosphorylate the same linker sites in vitro. The riluzole-induced Smad linker phosphorylation is mechanistically different from the Smad linker phosphorylation induced by TGFβ. We also demonstrate that riluzole-induced Smad linker phosphorylation is independent of the expression of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (GRM1), which is one of the glutamate receptors whose involvement in human melanoma has been documented. We further show that riluzole upregulates the expression of INHBB and PLAU, two genes associated with the TGFβ signaling pathway. The non-canonical increase in Smad linker phosphorylation induced by riluzole could contribute to the modulation of the pro-oncogenic functions of Smads in late stage melanomas.

Wangari-Talbot J, Wall BA, Goydos JS, Chen S
Functional effects of GRM1 suppression in human melanoma cells.
Mol Cancer Res. 2012; 10(11):1440-50 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Ectopic expression of a neuronal receptor, metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1), in melanocytes has been implicated in melanoma development in mouse models. The human relevance of this receptor's involvement in melanoma pathogenesis was shown by detecting GRM1 expression in subsets of human melanomas, an observation lacking in benign nevi or normal melanocytes. Grm1-transformed mouse melanocytes and a conditional Grm1 transgenic mouse model confirmed a requirement for sustained expression of Grm1 for the maintenance of transformed phenotypes in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo. Here, we investigate if continued GRM1 expression is also required in human melanoma cell lines by using two inducible, silencing RNA systems: the ecdysone/Ponasterone A and tetracycline on/off approaches to regulate GRM1 expression in the presence of each inducer. Various in vitro assays were conducted to assess the consequences of a reduction in GRM1 expression on cell proliferation, apoptosis, downstream targeted signaling pathways, and in vivo tumorigenesis. We showed that suppression of GRM1 expression in several human melanoma cell lines resulted in a reduction in the number of viable cells and a decrease in stimulated mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and PI3K/AKT and suppressed tumor progression in vivo. These results reinforce earlier observations where a reduction in cell growth in vitro and tumorigenesis in vivo were correlated with decreased GRM1 activities by pharmacologic inhibitors of the receptor, supporting the notion that GRM1 plays a role in the maintenance of transformed phenotypes in human melanoma cells in vitro and in vivo and could be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma.

Lee HJ, Wall BA, Wangari-Talbot J, Chen S
Regulation of mGluR1 expression in human melanocytes and melanoma cells.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Nov-Dec; 1819(11-12):1123-31 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We demonstrated that ectopic expression of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1/Grm1) in mouse melanocytes was sufficient to induce melanoma development in vivo with 100% penetrance. We also showed that about 60% of human melanoma biopsies and cell lines, but not benign nevi or normal human melanocytes expressed mGluR1, suggesting that GRM1 may be involved in melanomagenesis. mGluR1 is expressed primarily in neurons. In various non-neuronal cells, mGluR1 expression is regulated via binding of Neuron-Restrictive-Silencer-Factor (NRSF) to a Neuron-Restrictive-Silencer-Element (NRSE). Here, we report on the possibility that aberrant mGluR1 expression in melanoma is due to alterations in NRSF and/or NRSE. We show that in human melanocytes, binding of NRSF to NRSE in the GRM1 promoter region is necessary for the suppression of mGluR1 expression. We also show that inhibiting the expression of the transcription factor Sp1 or interference with its ability to bind DNA can result in increased mGluR1 expression perhaps via its function as a negative regulator. In addition, we also provide evidence that demethylation within the promoter region of GRM1 may also be a mechanism for the derepression of mGluR1 expression in melanocytes that progress to cell transformation and tumor formation.

Teh JL, Chen S
Glutamatergic signaling in cellular transformation.
Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2012; 25(3):331-42 [PubMed] Related Publications
The role of the glutamatergic system in cancer cell homeostasis has expanded exponentially over the last decade. Once thought to participate only in synaptic transmission and neuronal excitability, the presence of functional glutamate receptors has since been demonstrated in peripheral tissues. Most notable is the implication of glutamate receptors in the pathophysiology of various human malignancies. We previously described the oncogenic properties of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1), a G-protein-coupled receptor in melanoma development in vivo. TG-3, a transgenic mouse line, developed spontaneous melanoma with 100% penetrance in the absence of any known stimuli. Stable Grm1-mouse melanocytic clones display transformed phenotypes in vitro and were aggressively tumorigenic in vivo. Recent reports from other groups implicate two additional members of the metabotropic glutamate receptor family in melanomagenesis, overexpression of mGluR5 and activating mutations in GRM3. These findings highlight a previously underappreciated link between the glutamate signaling pathway and oncogenesis in melanoma biology, raising exciting possibilities in elucidating mechanisms in melanocyte transformation and exploring glutamate receptors as novel therapeutic targets. Here we further consider the potential mechanisms by which glutamate receptors can function as an oncogene leading to malignant transformation.

Speyer CL, Smith JS, Banda M, et al.
Metabotropic glutamate receptor-1: a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012; 132(2):565-73 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Metabotropic glutamate receptors are G-protein-coupled receptors normally expressed in the central nervous system where they mediate neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, and feedback inhibition of neurotransmitter release. However, recent data suggest that these receptors are also expressed and functional in some cancers, most notably melanoma. We detected the expression of metabotropic glutamate receptor-1 (gene: GRM1; protein: mGluR1) in triple negative breast cancer cells and evaluated its role in regulating the pro-proliferative phenotype of these cells. mGluR1 inhibitors (Riluzole or BAY36-7620) inhibited the proliferation of triple negative breast cancer cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner and this inhibition correlated with increased apoptosis as demonstrated by increase in PARP cleavage products and Annexin V staining. mGluR1 knockdown using Lentiviral constructs expressing shRNA targeting GRM1 also inhibited proliferation compared to non-silencing controls. In addition, treatment of mice bearing MDA-MB-231 xenografts with Riluzole or BAY36-7620, by intraperitoneal injection, resulted in a significant reduction in tumor volume of up to 80%. Moreover, Riluzole was effective against triple negative breast cancer xenografts in mice at doses equivalent to those currently being used in humans for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Our observations implicate mGluR1 and glutamate signaling as a promising new molecular target for the treatment of breast cancer. Even more promising, Riluzole, because it is an oral drug that can be administered with low toxicity, represents a promising approach in the treatment of triple negative breast cancer.

Shin SS, Wall BA, Goydos JS, Chen S
AKT2 is a downstream target of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1).
Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2010; 23(1):103-11 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We reported earlier on the oncogenic properties of Grm1 by demonstrating that stable Grm1-mouse-melanocytic clones proliferate in the absence of growth supplement and anchorage in vitro. In addition, these clones also exhibit aggressive tumorigenic phenotypes in vivo with short latency in tumor formation in both immunodeficient and syngeneic mice. We also detected strong activation of AKT in allograft tumors specifically AKT2 as the predominant isoform involved. In parallel, we assessed several human melanoma biopsy samples and found again that AKT2 was the predominantly activated AKT in these human melanoma biopsies. In cultured stable Grm1-mouse-melanocytic clones, as well as an metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1) expressing human melanoma cell line, C8161, stimulation of Grm1 by its agonist led to the activation of AKT, while preincubation with Grm1-antagonist abolished Grm1-agonist-induced AKT activation. In addition, a reduction in tumor volume of Grm1-mouse-melanocytic-allografts was detected in the presence of small interfering AKT2 RNA (siAKT2). Taken together, these results showed that, in addition to the MAPK pathway previously reported being a downstream target of stimulated Grm1, AKT2 is another downstream target in Grm1 mediated melanocyte transformation.

Lee HJ, Wall B, Chen S
G-protein-coupled receptors and melanoma.
Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2008; 21(4):415-28 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) are the largest family of receptors with over 500 members. Evaluation of GPCR gene expression in primary human tumors identified over-expression of GPCR in several tumor types. Analysis of cancer samples in different disease stages also suggests that some GPCR may be involved in early tumor progression and others may play a critical role in tumor invasion and metastasis. Currently, >50% of drug targets to various human diseases are based on GPCR. In this review, the relationships between several GPCR and melanoma development and/or progression will be discussed. Finally, the possibility of using one or more of these GPCR as therapeutic targets in melanoma will be summarized.

Parent AS, Matagne V, Westphal M, et al.
Gene expression profiling of hypothalamic hamartomas: a search for genes associated with central precocious puberty.
Horm Res. 2008; 69(2):114-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hypothalamic hamartomas (HHs) are congenital lesions composed of neurons and astroglia. Frequently, HHs cause central precocious puberty (CPP) and/or gelastic seizures. Because HHs might express genes similar to those required for the initiation of normal puberty, we used cDNA arrays to compare the gene expression profile of an HH associated with CPP with three HHs not accompanied by sexual precocity.
METHODS: Global changes in gene expression were detected using Affymetrix arrays. The results were confirmed by semiquantitative PCR, which also served to examine the expression of selected genes in the hypothalamus of female monkeys undergoing puberty.
RESULTS: All HHs were associated with seizures. Ten genes whose expression was increased in the HH with CPP were identified. They encode proteins involved in three key cellular processes: transcriptional regulation, cell-cell signaling, and cell adhesiveness. They include IA-1 and MEF2A, two transcription factors required for neuronal development; mGluR1 and VILIP-1, which encode proteins involved in neuronal communication, and TSG-6 that encodes a protein involved in cell adhesiveness. Of these, expression of mGluR1 also increases in the female monkey hypothalamus at puberty.
CONCLUSIONS: Increased expression of these genes in HHs may be relevant to the ability of some HHs to induce sexual precocity.

Ortiz P, Vanaclocha F, López-Bran E, et al.
Genetic analysis of the GRM1 gene in human melanoma susceptibility.
Eur J Hum Genet. 2007; 15(11):1176-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Data obtained from a mouse model indicated that the ectopic expression of the Grm1 gene is sufficient for transforming melanocytes and causing malignant melanoma in vivo. In addition, it has also been documented that the GRM1 gene is aberrantly expressed in human melanomas. Here we have performed a genetic association study to elucidate whether the GRM1 gene contributes to human melanoma susceptibility. To carry out this study, we initially genotyped 250 melanoma patients and 329 nonselected and nonrelated controls with three single nucleotide polymorphisms, rs854145, rs362962 and rs6923492, located in the intron 1, intron 4 and exon 10 of the GRM1 gene, respectively. To perform sample genotyping, we used pyrosequencing techniques. Regarding rs854145 and rs6923492, there were no differences in genotypic distribution or allelic frequency between patients and controls. However, we observed (i) a higher frequency of patients carrying the C allele of rs362962 than in controls (OR=1.40, CI=[1.01-1.95], P=0.045), and (ii) that difference became greater in a subgroup of patients with a low level of sun exposure and tumours located on the trunk and extremities (OR=2.10, CI=[1.26-3.51], P=0.0039). To confirm these observations, the sample size of both patient and control groups was increased. In total, 464 patients and 561 controls were genotyped for the rs362962 polymorphism. Only the second observation was confirmed (OR=1.69, CI=[1.16-2.47], P=0.0064). Our results suggest that the GRM1 gene may contribute to melanoma susceptibility in that specific group of patients.

Marín YE, Namkoong J, Cohen-Solal K, et al.
Stimulation of oncogenic metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 in melanoma cells activates ERK1/2 via PKCepsilon.
Cell Signal. 2006; 18(8):1279-86 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1, formerly mGluR1) is a G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) normally expressed and functional in the central nervous system. Studies of our transgenic mouse melanoma model (TG-3) revealed that ectopic expression of Grm1 in melanocytes is sufficient to induce melanoma development in vivo [P.M. Pollock, K. Cohen-Solal, R. Sood, J. Namkoong, J.J. Martino, A. Koganti, H. Zhu, C. Robbins, I. Makalowska, S.S. Shin, Y. Marin, K.G. Roberts, L.M. Yudt, A. Chen, J. Cheng, A. Incao, H.W. Pinkett, C.L. Graham, K. Dunn, S.M. Crespo-Carbone, K.R. Mackason, K.B. Ryan, D. Sinsimer, J. Goydos, K.R. Reuhl, M. Eckhaus, P.S. Meltzer, W.J. Pavan, J.M. Trent, S. Chen, Nat. Genet. 34 (2003) 108-112.]. We have established and characterized several cell lines in vitro from independent mouse melanoma tumors [Y.E. Marín, J. Namkoong, S.S. Shin, J. Raines, K. Degenhardt, E. White, S. Chen, Neuropharmacol. 49 (2005) 70-79.]. These cell lines are useful tools in the studies of signaling events that may be mediated by Grm1 in transformed melanocytes. Here we show that stimulation of Grm1 by l-quisqualate, a group I metabotropic glutamate receptor agonist, results in inositol triphosphate (IP3) accumulation, and the activation of ERK1/2 in these cell lines. IP3 accumulation and ERK1/2 activation were inhibited by pretreatment of the tumor cells with a Grm1-specific antagonist (LY367385) or by dominant negative mutants of Grm1, demonstrating the specificity of these events. We also show that ERK1/2 activation by Grm1 was PKC-dependent, but cAMP and PKA-independent. PKCepsilon was shown to play a pivotal role in Grm1-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Insights into the signaling cascades mediated by Grm1 in melanoma cells may aid in the identification of key molecular targets for the future design of combined therapies for melanoma.

Marín YE, Namkoong J, Shin SS, et al.
Grm5 expression is not required for the oncogenic role of Grm1 in melanocytes.
Neuropharmacology. 2005; 49 Suppl 1:70-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Melanoma is the aberrant proliferation of melanocytes, the cells in the skin responsible for pigment (melanin) production. In its early stages, melanoma can be surgically removed with great success, however, advanced stages of melanoma have a high mortality rate due to the lack of responsiveness to currently available therapies. We have previously characterized a mouse melanoma model, TG-3, which has implicated the ectopic expression of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (Grm1, formerly mGluR1), in melanomagenesis and metastasis [Pollock et al., 2003. Melanoma mouse model implicates metabotropic glutamate signaling in melanocytic neoplasia. Nat Genet. 34, 108-112.]. Here we report the characterization of several in vitro cell lines derived from independent mouse melanoma tumors. These cell lines show characteristic phenotypes of transformed melanocytes, and express Grm1, and Grm5 (another metabotropic glutamate receptor), as well as melanocyte-specific protein markers. To investigate the possible role of Grm5 in vivo during melanoma development in our mice, we have crossed Grm5 null mice with TG-3, generating a new line of transgenic mice, TGM. TGMs, which are homozygote knockouts for Grm5 and carry the TG transgene, develop tumors with onset, progression, and metastasis very similar to that described for TG-3. Taken together, these results indicate that Grm1 can act as an oncogene in melanocytes independently of Grm5 expression.

Musshoff U, Schünke U, Köhling R, Speckmann EJ
Alternative splicing of the NMDAR1 glutamate receptor subunit in human temporal lobe epilepsy.
Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2000; 76(2):377-84 [PubMed] Related Publications
It has been demonstrated in animal models that chronic epilepsy is associated with increased excitability which may result from abnormal glutamatergic transmission involving altered properties of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. We have investigated whether human temporal lobe epilepsy is associated with changes in the NMDA receptor at the molecular level by assessing the relative expression of mRNAs of the different splice variants at the N-terminal (exon 5) and C-terminal (exon 21) position for the NMDAR1 subunit. Specimens of hippocampus and temporal lobe cortex from patients with refractory epilepsy were obtained during neurosurgical operations and analyzed by means of the reverse transcription reaction followed by polymerase chain reaction. Non-epileptic control specimens obtained at autopsy exhibited a relatively high level in expression of exon 5-lacking (hippocampus: 0.87; cortex: 0.81) and exon 21-containing (hippocampus: 0.95; cortex: 0.93) transcripts. The ratio for these alternatively spliced transcripts was not significantly changed in epileptic hippocampal and cortical tissues relative to the corresponding non-epileptic samples. These results did not support a potential role for NMDAR1 splice variants in the pathophysiology of epilepsy.

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