Molecular mechanisms regulating the vascular prostacyclin pathways and their adaptation during pregnancy and in the newborn.
Prostacyclin activation of prostanoid IP receptors may result in pain sensation, inflammatory responses, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and vasodilation in vascular tissue. The prostanoid IP receptor is a G-protein-coupled receptor. In the present study, we investigated the determinants responsible, at least in part, for the prostacyclin receptor (IP) dimerization/oligomerization. Using co-immunoprecipitation of differentially tagged IP expressed in COS-7 cells, we demonstrate that IP can form dimers and oligomers. Treatment of IP-expressing cells with the stable agonist carbaprostacyclin failed to alter the ratios of oligomeric/dimeric/monomeric forms of the receptor, suggesting that IP dimerization/oligomerization is an agonist-independent process. The reducing agents dithiothreitol and 2-mercaptoethanol were highly efficient in converting the receptor from its oligomeric form to the monomeric state, indicating the involvement of disulfide bonds in IP oligomerization. Immunoblotting of the osteoblastic MG-63 cell line lysates with an anti-IP specific antibody revealed the presence of endogenous IP oligomers which were converted to dimers and monomers upon treatment with dithiothreitol. Individual substitutions of the four extracellular IP Cys residues (Cys(5), Cys(92), Cys(165) and Cys(170)) for Ser resulted in greatly decreased receptor protein expression in COS-7 cells. The C92-170S double mutant showed receptor protein expression level similar to the individual mutants. However, expression of the C92-165S and C165-170S mutants was drastically reduced, suggesting that there was formation of disulfide bonds between Cys(5) and Cys(165), and between Cys(92) and Cys(170). The Cys receptor mutants showed altered oligomer/dimer/monomer ratios. Dimerization/oligomerization likely occurs intracellularly since these Cys receptor mutants could still form dimers/oligomers despite their lack of expression at the cell surface.