Ectopically expressed olfactory receptors OR51E1 and OR51E2 suppress proliferation and promote cell death in a prostate cancer cell line

Alexey Pronin, Vladlen Slepak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Olfactory receptors (ORs), the largest family of G protein–coupled receptors, are expressed in the nasal epithelium where they mediate the sense of smell. However, ORs are also found in other non-nasal tissues, but the role of these ectopic ORs in cell signaling, proliferation, and survival is not well understood. Here, using an inducible expression system in the lymph node carcinoma of the prostate (LNCaP) cell line, we investigated two ectopic ORs, OR51E1 and OR51E2, which have been shown to be upregulated in prostate cancer. We found that, consistent with previous studies, OR51E1 stimulated adenylyl cyclase in response to treatment by short-chain to medium-chain organic acids (C3–C9) but not by acetate. OR51E2 responded to acetate and propionate but not to the longer chain organic acids. Stimulation of LNCaP cells with butyrate inhibited their growth, and the knockdown of the endogenous OR51E1 negated this cytostatic effect. Most significantly, overexpression of OR51E1 or OR51E2 suppressed LNCaP cell proliferation. Overexpression of another ectopic OR OR2AT4, β2-adrenergic receptor, or treatment of cells with forskolin did not suppress cell proliferation, indicating that a rise in cAMP is not sufficient to induce cytostasis. Overexpression of OR51E1 caused an upregulation of cytostatic and cell death markers including p27, p21, and p53, strongly increased annexin V staining, and stimulated extracellular signal–regulated protein kinases 1 and 2. Overexpression and/ or activation of OR51E1 did not affect human embryonic kidney 293 cell proliferation, indicating that cytotoxicity of OR51E1/OR51E2 is specific for LNCaP cells. Together, our results further our understanding of prostate cancer etiology and suggest that ectopic ORs may be useful therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100475
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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