Constitutive, Basal, and β-Alanine-Mediated Activation of the Human Mas-Related G Protein-Coupled Receptor D Induces Release of the Inflammatory Cytokine IL-6 and Is Dependent on NF-κB Signaling
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have emerged as key players in regulating (patho)physiological processes, including inflammation. Members of the Mas-related G protein coupled receptors (MRGPRs), a subfamily of GPCRs, are largely expressed by sensory neurons and known to modulate itch and pain. Several members of MRGPRs are also expressed in mast cells, macrophages, and in cardiovascular tissue, linking them to pseudo-allergic drug reactions and suggesting a pivotal role in the cardiovascular system. However, involvement of the human Mas-related G-protein coupled receptor D (MRGPRD) in the regulation of the inflammatory mediator interleukin 6 (IL-6) has not been demonstrated to date. By stimulating human MRGPRD-expressing HeLa cells with the agonist β-alanine, we observed a release of IL-6. β-alanine-induced signaling through MRGPRD was investigated further by probing downstream signaling effectors along the Gαq/Phospholipase C (PLC) pathway, which results in an IkB kinases (IKK)-mediated canonical activation of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) and stimulation of IL-6 release. This IL-6 release could be blocked by a Gαq inhibitor (YM-254890), an IKK complex inhibitor (IKK-16), and partly by a PLC inhibitor (U-73122). Additionally, we investigated the constitutive (ligand-independent) and basal activity of MRGPRD and concluded that the observed basal activity of MRGPRD is dependent on the presence of fetal bovine serum (FBS) in the culture medium. Consequently, the dynamic range for IL-6 detection as an assay for β-alanine-mediated activation of MRGPRD is substantially increased by culturing the cells in FBS free medium before treatment. Overall, the observation that MRGPRD mediates the release of IL-6 in an in vitro system, hints at a role as an inflammatory mediator and supports the notion that IL-6 can be used as a marker for MRGPRD activation in an in vitro drug screening assay.