Leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 regulates epithelial cell phenotype and survival of hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Mariko Fukuma, Keiji Tanese, Kathryn Effendi, Ken Yamazaki, Yohei Masugi, Mariko Suda, Michiie Sakamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


The leucine-rich repeat containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 (LGR5), also known as GPR49, is a seven-transmembrane receptor that is expressed in stem cells of the intestinal crypts and hair follicles of mice. LGR5 is overexpressed in some types of human cancer, and is one of the target genes of the Wnt signaling pathway. To explore the function of LGR5 in cancer cells, stable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines expressing FLAG-tagged LGR5 were established. Overexpression of LGR5 resulted in changes in cell shape from an extended flat (mesenchymal) phenotype to a round aggregated (stem cell-like) phenotype. Cells transfected with LGR5 showed higher colony forming activity, and were more resistant to a cytotoxic drug than cells transfected with empty vector. Overexpression of LGR5 inhibited cell motility. LGR5-transfected cells formed nodule type tumors in the livers of immunodeficient mice, whereas empty vector-transfected cells formed more invasive tumors. Down-regulation of LGR5 changed the morphology of HCC cells from the aggregated phenotype to an extended spindle phenotype, and cell motility was increased. This is the first study reporting the functional role of LGR5 in the biology of HCC cells, and the results suggest that aberrant expression of LGR5 regulates epithelial cell phenotype and survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Feb 1



  • GPR49
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • LGR5
  • Morphology
  • Motility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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