Cancer cell adaptation to hypoxia involves a HIF-GPRC5A-YAP axis

Alexander Greenhough, Clare Bagley, Kate J Heesom, David B Gurevich, David Gay, Mark Bond, Tracey J Collard, Chris Paraskeva, Paul Martin, Owen J Sansom, Karim Malik, Ann C Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (SciVal)


Hypoxia is a hallmark of solid tumours and a key physiological feature distinguishing cancer from normal tissue. However, a major challenge remains in identifying tractable molecular targets that hypoxic cancer cells depend on for survival. Here, we used SILAC-based proteomics to identify the orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPRC5A as a novel hypoxia-induced protein that functions to protect cancer cells from apoptosis during oxygen deprivation. Using genetic approaches in vitro and in vivo, we reveal HIFs as direct activators of GPRC5A transcription. Furthermore, we find that GPRC5A is upregulated in the colonic epithelium of patients with mesenteric ischaemia, and in colorectal cancers high GPRC5A correlates with hypoxia gene signatures and poor clinical outcomes. Mechanistically, we show that GPRC5A enables hypoxic cell survival by activating the Hippo pathway effector YAP and its anti-apoptotic target gene BCL2L1 Importantly, we show that the apoptosis induced by GPRC5A depletion in hypoxia can be rescued by constitutively active YAP. Our study identifies a novel HIF-GPRC5A-YAP axis as a critical mediator of the hypoxia-induced adaptive response and a potential target for cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8699
JournalEMBO Molecular Medicine
Issue number11
Early online date24 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Adaptation, Physiological/drug effects
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm/metabolism
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors/metabolism
  • Carbonic Anhydrase IX/metabolism
  • Cell Hypoxia/drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival/drug effects
  • Doxycycline/pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit/metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms/genetics
  • Phosphoproteins/metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction/drug effects
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic/drug effects
  • Zebrafish


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