Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor



Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a potent bioactive phospholipid mediator that functions through multiple G protein couple receptors (GPCRs). LPA is elevated in ascites of ovarian cancer patients and is involved in growth, survival and metastasis of ovarian cancer cells. Gene promoter analyses revealed that some LPA-target genes share similar sets of binding sites for prominent transcription factors posing the possibility of a general mechanism for activation of their expression by LPA. Detailed investigation of the mechanisms of regulation of cyclooxygenase 2 (Cox-2), a paradigm of LPA-regulated genes, showed that LPA robustly upregulated the expression of Cox-2 in ovarian cancer cells through multiple receptors. LPA induced rapid increase in Cox-2 mRNA and significantly enhanced the stability of Cox-2 transcript with the support of mRNA binding protein HuR. The effects of LPA on Cox-2 transcriptional activation include essential involvement of transcription factor, C/EBP-b. Further studies on mechanisms of activation of C/EBP-b demonstrated that LPA increased phosphorylation, binding and transcriptional activities of C/EBP-b. In addition, activation of C/EBP-b and LPA-target genes required contribution from EGFR. This novel crosstalk between LPA GPCRs and EGFR in mediating transcription factors activation was further explored by investigating the mechanisms of activation of AP-1 and NF-kB by LPA. Activation of AP-1 family of proteins by LPA relied heavily on basal inputs from EGFR as inhibition of EGFR kinase activity with AG1478 caused significant loss of LPA-induced AP-1 expression, binding and transcription activities. Although HGF and other agonists of RTK only weakly stimulate LPA-target genes and transcription factors in ovarian cancer cells, costimulation with HGF in the presence of AG1478 restored LPA signals to both C/EBP-b and AP-1. This suggests an obligatory role for a RTK in LPA-induced transcriptional activation, not necessarily inputs from EGFR. Interestingly, inhibition of EGFR with AG1478 did not interfere with LPA-induced NF-kB activation. Pharmacological inhibition and molecular targeting revealed that only a subset of G proteins participate in the crosstalk between LPA receptors and EGFR. Collectively, these results demonstrate the presence of at least two signals downstream of LPA receptors: one dependent on basal RTK activity and another mediated directly by LPA GPCRs.


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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

April 2009