Prostaglandin E2 plays important roles in the maintenance of colonic homeostasis. The recently identified prostaglandin E receptor (EP) 4–associated protein (EPRAP) is essential for an anti-inflammatory function of EP4 signaling in macrophages in vitro. To investigate the in vivo roles of EPRAP, we examined the effects of EPRAP on colitis and colitis-associated tumorigenesis. In mice, EPRAP deficiency exacerbated colitis induced by dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) treatment. Wild-type (WT) or EPRAP-deficient recipients transplanted with EPRAP-deficient bone marrow developed more severe DSS-induced colitis than WT or EPRAP-deficient recipients of WT bone marrow. In the context of colitis-associated tumorigenesis, both systemic EPRAP null mutation and EPRAP-deficiency in the bone marrow enhanced intestinal polyp formation induced by azoxymethane (AOM)/DSS treatment. Administration of an EP4-selective agonist, ONO-AE1-329, ameliorated DSS-induced colitis in WT, but not in EPRAP-deficient mice. EPRAP deficiency increased the levels of the phosphorylated forms of p105, MEK, and ERK, resulting in activation of stromal macrophages in DSS-induced colitis. Macrophages of DSS-treated EPRAP-deficient mice exhibited a marked increase in the expression of pro-inflammatory genes, relative to WT mice. By contrast, forced expression of EPRAP in macrophages ameliorated DSS-induced colitis and AOM/DSS-induced intestinal polyp formation. These data suggest that EPRAP in macrophages functions crucially in suppressing colonic inflammation. Consistently, EPRAP-positive macrophages were also accumulated in the colonic stroma of ulcerative colitis patients. Thus, EPRAP may be a potential therapeutic target for inflammatory bowel disease and associated intestinal tumorigenesis.
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