GPCRomics of Homeostatic and Disease-Associated Human Microglia

Cheng Chih Hsiao*, Roman Sankowski, Marco Prinz, Joost Smolders, Inge Huitinga, Jörg Hamann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are critical sensors affecting the state of eukaryotic cells. To get systematic insight into the GPCRome of microglia, we analyzed publicly available RNA-sequencing data of bulk and single cells obtained from human and mouse brains. We identified 17 rhodopsin and adhesion family GPCRs robustly expressed in microglia from human brains, including the homeostasis-associated genes CX3CR1, GPR34, GPR183, P2RY12, P2RY13, and ADGRG1. Expression of these microglial core genes was lost upon culture of isolated cells ex vivo but could be acquired by human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived microglial precursors transplanted into mouse brains. CXCR4 and PTGER4 were higher expressed in subcortical white matter compared to cortical grey matter microglia, and ADGRG1 was downregulated in microglia obtained from normal-appearing white and grey matter tissue of multiple sclerosis (MS) brains. Single-cell RNA sequencing of microglia from active lesions, obtained early during MS, revealed downregulation of homeostasis-associated GPCR genes and upregulation of CXCR4 expression in a small subset of MS-associated lesional microglia. Functional presence of low levels of CXCR4 on human microglia was confirmed using flow cytometry and transwell migration towards SDF-1. Microglia abundantly expressed the GPCR down-stream signaling mediator genes GNAI2 (αi2), GNAS (αs), and GNA13 (α13), the latter particularly in white matter. Drugs against several microglia GPCRs are available to target microglia in brain diseases. In conclusion, transcriptome profiling allowed us to identify expression of GPCRs that may contribute to brain (patho)physiology and have diagnostic and therapeutic potential in human microglia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number674189
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The German Research Foundation (FOR 2149 – JH), the Berta-Ottenstein-Programme for Clinical Scientists (RS), the MS Research Foundation (MS 13-830 – IH/JH), and the Nationaal MS Fonds (OZ2018-003 – JS) funded this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Hsiao, Sankowski, Prinz, Smolders, Huitinga and Hamann.


Dive into the research topics of 'GPCRomics of Homeostatic and Disease-Associated Human Microglia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this