G-protein-coupled receptors and localized signaling in the primary cilium during ventral neural tube patterning

Sun Hee Hwang, Saikat Mukhopadhyay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The primary cilium is critical in sonic hedgehog (Shh)-dependent ventral patterning of the vertebrate neural tube. Most mutants that cause disruption of the cilium result in decreased Shh signaling in the neural tube. In contrast, mutations in the intraflagellar complex A (IFT-A) and the tubby family protein, Tulp3, result in increased Shh signaling in the neural tube. Proteomic analysis of Tulp3-binding proteins first pointed to the role of the IFT-A complex in trafficking Tulp3 into the cilia. Tulp3 directs trafficking of rhodopsin family G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to the cilia, suggesting the role of a GPCR in mediating the paradoxical effects of the Tulp3/IFT-A complex in causing increased Shh signaling. Gpr161 has recently been identified as a Tulp3/IFT-A-regulated GPCR that localizes to the primary cilium. A null knock-out mouse model of Gpr161 phenocopies Tulp3 and IFT-A mutants, and causes increased Shh signaling throughout the neural tube. In the absence of Shh, the bifunctional Gli transcription factors are proteolytically processed into repressor forms in a protein kinase A (PKA) -dependent and cilium-dependent manner. Gpr161 activity results in increased cAMP levels in a Gαs-coupled manner, and determines processing of Gli3. Shh signaling also results in removal of Gpr161 from the cilia, suggesting that Gpr161 functions in a positive feedback loop in the Shh pathway. As PKA-null and Gαs mutant embryos also exhibit increased Shh signaling in the neural tube, Gpr161 is a strong candidate for a GPCR that regulates ciliary cAMP levels, and activates PKA in close proximity to the cilia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalBirth Defects Research Part A - Clinical and Molecular Teratology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015


  • G-protein-coupled receptor
  • Hedgehog
  • Neural tube
  • Primary cilium
  • Protein kinase A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology


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