Open Access Research article

Adhesion GPCRs are widely expressed throughout the subsections of the gastrointestinal tract

Luca Badiali12, Jonathan Cedernaes1, Pawel K Olszewski13, Olof Nylander1, Anna V Vergoni2 and Helgi B Schiöth1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, BMC, Uppsala, SE 75124, Sweden

2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi, 41125, Modena, Italy

3 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

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BMC Gastroenterology 2012, 12:134  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-12-134

Published: 25 September 2012



G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent one of the largest families of transmembrane receptors and the most common drug target. The Adhesion subfamily is the second largest one of GPCRs and its several members are known to mediate neural development and immune system functioning through cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. The distribution of these receptors has not been characterized in detail in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Here we present the first comprehensive anatomical profiling of mRNA expression of all 30 Adhesion GPCRs in the rat GI tract divided into twelve subsegments.


Using RT-qPCR, we studied the expression of Adhesion GPCRs in the esophagus, the corpus and antrum of the stomach, the proximal and distal parts of the duodenum, ileum, jejunum and colon, and the cecum.


We found that twenty-one Adhesion GPCRs (70%) had a widespread (expressed in five or more segments) or ubiquitous (expressed in eleven or more segments) distribution, seven (23%) were restricted to a few segments of the GI tract and two were not expressed in any segment. Most notably, almost all Group III members were ubiquitously expressed, while the restricted expression was characteristic for the majority of group VII members, hinting at more specific/localized roles for some of these receptors.


Overall, the distribution of Adhesion GPCRs points to their important role in GI tract functioning and defines them as a potentially crucial target for pharmacological interventions.