GPR133 (ADGRD1), an adhesion G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) whose canonical signaling activates G-mediated generation of cytosolic cAMP, has been shown to be necessary for the growth of glioblastoma (GBM), a brain malignancy. The extracellular N-terminus of GPR133 is thought to be autoproteolytically cleaved into N-terminal and C-terminal fragments (NTF and CTF). However, the role of this cleavage in receptor activation remains unclear. Here, we used subcellular fractionation and immunoprecipitation approaches to show that the wild-type GPR133 receptor is cleaved shortly after protein synthesis and generates significantly more canonical signaling than an uncleavable point mutant GPR133 (H543R) in patient-derived GBM cultures and HEK293T cells. After cleavage, the resulting NTF and CTF remain non-covalently bound until the receptor is trafficked to the plasma membrane, where we demonstrated NTF-CTF dissociation occurs. Using a fusion of the CTF of GPR133 and the N-terminus of thrombin-activated human protease-activated receptor 1 (hPAR1) as a controllable proxy system to test the effect of intramolecular cleavage and dissociation, we also showed that thrombin-induced cleavage and shedding of the hPAR1 NTF increased intracellular cAMP levels. These results support a model wherein dissociation of the NTF from the CTF at the plasma membrane promotes GPR133 activation and downstream signaling. These findings add depth to our understanding of the molecular life cycle and mechanism of action of GPR133, and provide critical insights that will inform therapeutic targeting of GPR133 in GBM.
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