Open Access Research article

Gβγ subunits inhibit Epac-induced melanoma cell migration

Erdene Baljinnyam1, Masanari Umemura1, Mariana S De Lorenzo1, Lai-Hua Xie1, Martha Nowycky2, Mizuka Iwatsubo1, Suzie Chen3, James S Goydos4 and Kousaku Iwatsubo15*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine, New Jersey Medical School-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 185 South Orange Avenue, Newark, 07103, USA

2 Department of Pharmacology and Physiology; New Jersey Medical School-University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 185 South Orange Avenue, Newark, 07103, USA

3 Department of Chemical Biology, Susan Lehman Cullen Laboratory of Cancer Research in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, 60 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, New Jersey, 08854, USA

4 Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 195 Little Albany Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08854, USA

5 Cardiovascular Research Institute, Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine, 3-9 Fukuura, Yokohama, 236-0004, Japan

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:256  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-256

Published: 17 June 2011



Recently we reported that activation of Epac1, an exchange protein activated by cAMP, increases melanoma cell migration via Ca 2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). G-protein βγ subunits (Gβγ) are known to act as an independent signaling molecule upon activation of G-protein coupled receptor. However, the role of Gβγ in cell migration and Ca 2+ signaling in melanoma has not been well studied. Here we report that there is crosstalk of Ca 2+ signaling between Gβγ and Epac in melanoma, which plays a role in regulation of cell migration.


SK-Mel-2 cells, a human metastatic melanoma cell line, were mainly used in this study. Intracellular Ca 2+ was measured with Fluo-4AM fluorescent dyes. Cell migration was examined using the Boyden chambers.


The effect of Gβγ on Epac-induced cell migration was first examined. Epac-induced cell migration was inhibited by mSIRK, a Gβγ -activating peptide, but not its inactive analog, L9A, in SK-Mel-2 cells. Guanosine 5', α-β-methylene triphosphate (Gp(CH2)pp), a constitutively active GTP analogue that activates Gβγ, also inhibited Epac-induced cell migration. In addition, co-overexpression of β1 and γ2, which is the major combination of Gβγ, inhibited Epac1-induced cell migration. By contrast, when the C-terminus of β adrenergic receptor kinase (βARK-CT), an endogenous inhibitor for Gβγ, was overexpressed, mSIRK's inhibitory effect on Epac-induced cell migration was negated, suggesting the specificity of mSIRK for Gβγ. We next examined the effect of mSIRK on Epac-induced Ca 2+ response. When cells were pretreated with mSIRK, but not with L9A, 8-(4-Methoxyphenylthio)-2'-O-methyladenosine-3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (8-pMeOPT), an Epac-specific agonist, failed to increase Ca 2+ signal. Co-overexpression of β1 and γ2 subunits inhibited 8-pMeOPT-induced Ca 2+ elevation. Inhibition of Gβγ with βARK-CT or guanosine 5'-O-(2-thiodiphosphate) (GDPβS), a GDP analogue that inactivates Gβγ, restored 8-pMeOPT-induced Ca 2+ elevation even in the presence of mSIRK. These data suggested that Gβγ inhibits Epac-induced Ca 2+ elevation. Subsequently, the mechanism by which Gβγ inhibits Epac-induced Ca 2+ elevation was explored. mSIRK activates Ca 2+ influx from the extracellular space. In addition, W-5, an inhibitor of calmodulin, abolished mSIRK's inhibitory effects on Epac-induced Ca 2+ elevation, and cell migration. These data suggest that, the mSIRK-induced Ca 2+ from the extracellular space inhibits the Epac-induced Ca 2+ release from the ER, resulting suppression of cell migration.


We found the cross talk of Ca 2+ signaling between Gβγ and Epac, which plays a major role in melanoma cell migration.