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 hypoxiainduced 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.
Greenhough, A., Bagley, C., Heesom, K., Gurevich, D., Gay, D., Bond, M., Collard, T., Paraskeva, C., Martin, P., Sansom, O. J., Malik, K., & Williams, A. (2018). Cancer cell adaptation to hypoxia involves a HIF-GPRC5A-YAP axis. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 10(8), [e8699]. https://doi.org/10.15252/emmm.201708699