Encyclopedia of Signaling Molecules

2018 Edition
| Editors: Sangdun Choi

ADCY9 (Adenylyl Cyclase 9)

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-67199-4_140


Historical Background

Adenylyl cyclase (AC) is the enzyme (EC that converts Mg-ATP to adenosine 3′:5′ monophosphate or cyclic AMP and pyrophosphate first reported in 1958 by Sutherland and Rall. Eventually, a membrane-delimited biochemical cascade (Fig. 1) was discovered as the molecular machinery of signal transduction by cell surface receptors via heterotrimeric G proteins (Antoni 2000). The era of gene cloning revealed an unexpectedly complex structure of membrane-bound adenylyl cyclase: a single large polypeptide chain that crosses the plasma membrane 12 times, the catalytic core being formed between two structurally homologous cytoplasmic domains (C1a and C2a) held together by noncovalent interactions (Fig. 2). The crystal structures of these domains in complex with Gsα and the likely mechanisms underlying catalysis have been reported (Tesmer and Sprang 1998). There are nine genes encoding membrane-bound adenylyl cyclases in vertebrates (Antoni 2000). Manifestations of the molecular diversity of adenylyl cyclases fall into three principal categories: (1) different allosteric mechanisms for the regulation of cAMP synthesis, (2) variation of tissue distribution through the control of gene expression; (3) Selective intracellular targeting (Antoni 2000; Halls and Cooper 2011). However, the biological reasons for the complexity of the structure of the holoenzyme as well as the respective physiological roles of the nine paralogues of membrane-bound adenylyl cyclase remain largely unknown (Antoni 2000; Halls and Cooper 2011).
ADCY9 (Adenylyl Cyclase 9), Fig. 1

Basic scheme of the activation of adenylyl cyclase by heptahelical receptors in the plasma membrane. Upon binding of the ligand, the heterotrimeric G protein Gs becomes active and its alpha subunit binds to adenylyl cyclase and induces an increase of catalytic activity

ADCY9 (Adenylyl Cyclase 9), Fig. 2

Blueprint of the structure of membrane-bound adenylyl cyclases. A single polypeptide chain crosses the plasma membrane (in blue cylinder) 12 times forming the M1 and M 2 transmembrane domains. The N terminus (N) is in the cytoplasm just as the C1 and C2 cytoplasmic domains. On the basis of structure activity studies, it is useful to subdivide in the latter into a and b subdomains. The C1a and C2a domains show significant sequence homology and are known to form the catalytic core of the enzyme, which is responsive to G proteins and forskolin. Catalysis requires Mg2+ as well as Mn2+. In the case of AC9, the pre-C1a segment as well as C1b and the C2b domains contain phosphorylation clusters

Protein Structure and Regulation


The primary structure of adenylyl cyclase 9 (AC9) has two notable features when compared with its mammalian paralogues (Paterson et al. 2000). Firstly, the nonconserved cytoplasmic domains C1b and C2b (Fig. 2) are considerably longer, for example, in the case of C2b 112 amino acid residues for AC9 versus 16 for AC2. Secondly, there is a segment of amino acid residues in all adenylyl cyclases between the predicted 6th intramembrane helix and the relatively conserved C1a domain (pre-C1a), that is, highly variable between AC paralogues; in the case of AC9 it consists of 34 amino acid residues and contains a phosphorylation cluster (http://www.phosphosite.org/proteinAction.do?id=8311&showAllSites=true).

There is some controversy over the exact sequence of the COOH-terminal domain of human AC9. The first published sequence (Hacker et al. 1998) contains a double frame-shift mutation when compared with a sequence published later (Paterson et al. 2000). Genome sequencing suggests that the sequence of Paterson et al. (2000) is correct. However, it cannot be fully excluded that the sequence of Hacker et al. (1998) came from a cDNA library with a somatic mutation, or some form of as yet uncharacterized RNA modification gave rise to the double-frameshift version of human AC9 and was transcribed into cDNA.


Adenylyl cyclases are subject to three main classes of physiological regulation by (1) protein–protein interactions, cardinally heterotrimeric G proteins, (2) calcium ions, and (3) protein phosphorylation. Further forms of regulation are likely to emerge through the study of individual isoforms. For instance, database entries show that similar to other membrane proteins, AC9 is subject to ubiquitinylation and acetylation.

Protein–Protein Interactions: G proteins

All isoforms of AC, including AC9, are activated by the alpha subunit of the heterotrimeric stimulatory G protein Gs (Gsα) and are thus stimulated by a variety of heptahelical cell surface receptors (7-TMR) that couple to Gs. Note, however, that the effect of Gs on AC9 could be dependent on the cellular context. There are apparently no effects of G protein beta/gamma subunits or the alpha subunit of the inhibitory G protein Gi (Giα) on AC9 activity in membranes prepared from human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 293) overexpressing human AC9 or Sf9 cells infected with baculovirus encoding AC9 (Premont et al. 1996). In accordance, a putative Giα binding site sequence delineated in AC5 is absent from AC9. However, in intact AtT20 cells where the cAMP response to the activation of 7-TMR is predominantly through AC9 (Antoni et al. 1995), prominent inhibition of cAMP production by somatostatin acting through SST2/5 receptors in a pertussis toxin sensitive manner has been demonstrated, suggesting the involvement of Gi. Moreover, in HEK293 cells, stably overexpressing AC9 and the long form of the D2 dopamine receptor, the D2 agonist quinpirole inhibited isoproterenol evoked cAMP accumulation – an effect also blocked by pertussis toxin (Cumbay and Watts 2004). A possible caveat in the latter study is that the expression plasmid for human AC9 used (Hacker et al. 1998) does not code for the entire correct sequence of AC9 as the C-terminal region contains a double frame-shift mutation (Paterson et al. 2000). Taken together, the action of 7-TM coupled to Gi on AC9 is in need of further investigation.

More recent work has shed light on the physical association of AC9 with other components of cAMP signaling. Dessauer and co-workers concluded that the isoform-specific NH2-terminal domain of AC9 enables the enzyme to form a complex with the A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP) yotiao, also known as AKAP 9 (Piggott et al. 2008; Li et al. 2012). AKAPs are scaffolding proteins that recruit several elements of cAMP signaling, thus giving rise to signalosomes that facilitate localized intracellular cAMP signaling with unique regulatory properties (microdomains) (Houslay 2010; Lefkimmiatis and Zaccolo 2014). In the case of the yotiao scaffold, further signaling proteins in proximity of AC9 may include the voltage-gated K+-channel subunit KCNQ1 (Kv7.1) that forms the IKs channel responsible for the repolarization of heart muscle cells (Osteen et al. 2010) and underlies various forms of “long-QT” syndrome (Dvir et al. 2014). This finding is potentially significant, as the other transmembrane ACs expressed by cardiomyocytes (AC5 and 6) do not form a complex with yotiao and KCNQ1 (Piggott et al. 2008; Li et al. 2012).

Ca2+ and Phosphorylation/Ubiquitinylation

Adenylyl cyclase 9 (AC9) was discovered on the basis of unique sensitivity of the agonist-evoked cAMP response to inhibitors of calcineurin in the AtT20 pituitary tumor cell line (Antoni et al. 1995; Antoni 2000). The molecular choreography of the regulation by calcineurin is not known, currently it cannot be excluded that it is indirect, that is, via a protein phosphatase cascade the main effector of which would be protein phosphatase 1. Pharmacological evidence indicates that activation of protein kinase C inhibits Gsα-mediated activation of AC9 (Cumbay and Watts 2004). Proteomic analysis has revealed at least 12 sites of phosphate incorporation in the isoform-specific segments (pre-C1a, C1b, and C2b) of human AC9 (http://www.phosphosite.org/proteinAction.do?id=8311&showAllSites=true). Some of these phosphorylations, especially those in the pre-C1a cluster as well as Ser1307 in the C2b domain, which is an amino acid residue unique to AC9 in primates, have been analyzed in detail in HEK293 cells (Simpson et al. 2006). Specifically, Ser 365 and Ser1307 are constitutively phosphorylated by cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5 in HEK293 cells. Stimulation by cAMP leads to a marked increase in the levels of phosphoSer374 and a reduction in phosphoSer1307. The functional impacts of these changes of phosphorylation await elucidation.

Tissue Distribution and Subcellular Targeting

AC9 mRNA is widely expressed in the body (Antoni et al. 1998). The brain, heart, skeletal muscle, endocrine organs, the aorta, and the prostate all express high levels of AC9 mRNA, whereas the spleen and thymus have low levels. Within the brain, all neurons appear to express AC9, with particularly high levels of protein in the hippocampus and the cingulate cortex (Antoni et al. 1998). The promoter region of the Adcy9 gene has not been analyzed in detail.

It is assumed that ACs are largely localized to the plasma membrane where they would be concentrated and ready for interaction with Gsα. This concept is supported in HEK293 cells and other epithelial cell lines, where transfected ACs, including AC9 (Paterson et al. 2000; Antoni et al. 2006), appear predominantly in the plasma membrane. However, the situation may be different in neurons where the bulk of adenylyl cyclase appears to localize to discrete punctae in the cytoplasm (Antoni et al. 2006). Within nerve cells of the adult rodent brain, AC9 appears to be restricted to the somatodendritic compartment and is also found throughout the cytoplasm with no obvious enrichment in the plasma membrane. In this context, it is worth recalling a salient structural feature of membrane-bound adenylyl cyclases: The cytoplasmic domains are sufficient for Gsα-mediated cAMP biosynthesis. Thus, the cytoplasmic domain of a fully synthesized and folded adenylyl cyclase located in the smooth endoplasmic reticulum is, at least in principle, fully responsive to physiological stimulation – provided Mg2+ and ATP are present in sufficient amounts (Fig. 3). Indeed, it has been reported that upon receptor activation at the cell surface Gsα translocates into the cell interior (Antoni 2012). Furthermore, stimulators of V2 type vasopressin receptors that are cell membrane permeant can induce cAMP production via mutant V2 receptors that fail to be exteriorized to the cell surface (Antoni 2012). This latter finding also implies that functionally active signalosomes containing 7-TMR, Gs, and adenylyl cyclase can be assembled in intracellular membranes.
ADCY9 (Adenylyl Cyclase 9), Fig. 3

Intracellular trafficking of membrane bound adenylyl cyclase poses important questions. As the cytoplasmic loops of the protein are catalytically active in the presence of ATP and Mg2+, it is plausible that cAMP is produced in the cytoplasm. Indeed, adenylyl cyclases could be targeted to relevant cellular compartments other than the plasma membrane. Data on AC9 indicate that at least four different types of protein kinase – protein kinase C delta (PKCd), protein kinase A (PKA), casein kinase 1(CK1), cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5/p35 complex (cdk5/p35) – phosphorylate this enzyme; moreover, the protein phosphatase calcineurin and calyculin A-sensitive phosphatases contribute to its regulation. All of these enzymes can be attached to cell membranes. Similarly AC1 and AC8 which are stimulated by Ca2+ calmodulin acting on the cytoplasmic domain could provide for propagating cAMP signals that move in concert with intracellular Ca2+ waves

Physiological Role and Phenotypes

AC9 is by far the most abundant adenylyl cyclase in the brain, yet relatively little is known about its role in the CNS. AC9 mRNA levels in the hippocampal CA1 field and the dentate gyrus were reduced in aged mice (Mons et al. 2004). Moreover, AC9 mRNA levels in the hippocampus of young adult mice were significantly increased after training sessions in the Morris water maze (fixed hidden platform paradigm) and showed a significant correlation with the level of performance in this test of spatial memory (Mons et al. 2004). While these data indicate that higher AC9 levels are associated with superior cognitive performance, further evidence is required to substantiate this notion. The association of AC9 with KCNQ1 through yotiao (Piggott et al. 2008; Antoni 2012) indicates a role of AC9 in regulating the excitability of neurons and heart muscle cells. However, specific physiological paradigms involving AC9 in these systems are yet to emerge.

In the neuroendocrine system, AC9 appears to play an important role in glucocorticoid feedback regulation of the secretion of adrenocorticotropin by the anterior pituitary gland (Antoni 2012).

Although AC9 is not abundant in the immune system, the enzyme has been implicated in the response of macrophages to stimuli activating pattern recognition receptors (Alper et al. 2008).

A mutation in the AC9 coding sequence has been identified which is present in 30% of the North American Caucasian and Oriental population and leads to a substantial reduction of receptor-induced cAMP synthesis (Small et al. 2003). This may potentially contribute to vulnerability to certain polygenic disorders such as bronchial asthma. Intriguingly, a significant association between the same mutation and the familial occurrence of bipolar depression has been reported in a cohort of patients in Japan (Toyota et al. 2002). The mechanistic basis of the effect of this mutation (Ile772→Met) in the isoform-specific C1b domain is not known. However, it can be speculated that as the lysine residue in position 773 is a target for ubiquitinylation (http://www.phosphosite.org/siteAction.action?id=27175599), the mutation at position 772 may alter the efficiency of this process and thus modify the intracellular trafficking of AC9.

Yet further work has suggested the involvement of cAMP signaling in the development of resistance of melanoma to cells towards the cytotoxic effects of inhibitors of the RAF and MEK protein kinases. As AC9 is expressed in melanoma cells, it is a potential component of the cAMP resistance pathway (Johannessen et al. 2013).

Analysis of over 6000 patients from a clinical phase three study of the cholesterylester transfer protein inhibitor drug dalcetrapib led to the surprising finding that an intronic allele of the AC9 gene had a major influence on the clinical efficacy of the drug. The trial failed because of apparent lack of efficacy to reduce the arteriosclerotic thickening of blood vessel intima. A single SNP in ADCY9 was associated with cardiovascular events upon treatment with dalcetrapib: Genotype A/A at rs1967309 had a 39% reduction in CV events, compared with a 27% increase among patients with the G/G genotype (Tardif et al. 2015). The finding was hailed as a major advance towards personalized, pharmacogenetics-driven drug therapy. More recently, it was reported that cholesterol efflux of the macrophages of genotyped patients was modified by dalcetrapib in accordance with the clinical findings, that is, G/G rs1967309 patients had unaltered cholesterol efflux, whereas the cells from A/A rs1967309 patients had significantly enhanced cholesterol efflux. Based on further genetic analyses of polymorphisms in Adcy9, a generic role of the enzyme in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases was proposed (Niesor et al. 2015).

Pharmacology and Therapeutic Potential

Adenylyl cyclases have been considered as therapeutic targets for a long time, but potent and selective drugs to modulate these enzymes have remained elusive (Brand et al. 2013). The paucity of data on the physiological role of AC9 is also reflected by the dearth of ideas concerning its potential in clinical therapy. Forskolin, a direct activator of ACs 1 through 8, has no or very little effect on AC9 heterologously expressed in HEK293 or SF9 cells. Moreover, soluble miniproteins constructed from AC9 C1 and C2 domains also fail to respond to this drug (Yan et al. 1998; Haunsø et al. 2003). Yan and co-workers have shown that mutation of a single amino acid, Tyr1082→Leu, will render AC9 sensitive to the stimulatory action of forskolin. Another unusual feature of AC9 is that it is largely resistant to inhibition by adenosine analogs (Haunsø et al. 2003), which are “dead-end” inhibitors of all other ACs (Brand et al. 2013). Calmidazolium is a very effective (Ki = 5 μM), albeit nonspecific inhibitor of AC9 (Haunsø et al. 2003).


Adenylyl cyclase 9 is a membrane bound adenylyl cyclase with unique regulatory properties. While the enzyme is prominently expressed in vital organs of the body such as the brain, the heart, and most endocrine glands, precious little is known about its physiological role and potential involvement in the pathogenesis of human diseases. More work with genetically modified animal models guided by recent intriguing human genetic studies is required to understand the biological role of AC9.


  1. Alper S, Laws R, Lackford B, Boyd WA, Dunlap P, Freedman JH, Schwartz DA. Identification of innate immunity genes and pathways using a comparative genomics approach. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008;105(19):7016–21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0802405105.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Antoni FA, Wiegand U, Black J, Simpson J. Cellular localisation of adenylyl cyclase: a post-genome perspective. Neurochem Res. 2006;31(2):287–95.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Antoni FA. Molecular diversity of cyclic AMP signaling. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2000;21:103–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Antoni FA. New paradigms in cAMP signalling. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012;353(1–2):3–9. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2011.10.034.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Antoni FA, Barnard RJO, Shipston MJ, Smith SM, Simpson J, Paterson JM. Calcineurin feedback inhibition of agonist-evoked cAMP formation. J Biol Chem. 1995;270:28055–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Antoni FA, Palkovits M, Simpson J, Smith SM, Leitch AL, Rosie R, Fink G, Paterson JM. Ca2+/calcineurin-inhibited adenylyl cyclase highly abundant in forebrain regions important for learning and memory. J Neurosci. 1998a;18(23):9650–61.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Antoni FA, Smith SM, Simpson J, Rosie R, Fink G, Paterson JM. Calcium control of adenylyl cyclase – the calcineurin connection. Adv Second Messenger Phosphoprotein Res. 1998b;32:153–72.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brand CS, Hocker HJ, Gorfe AA, Cavasotto CN, Dessauer CW. Isoform selectivity of adenylyl cyclase inhibitors: characterization of known and novel compounds. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2013;347(2):265–75. doi: 10.1124/jpet.113.208157.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cumbay MG, Watts VJ. Novel regulatory properties of human type 9 adenylate cyclase. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2004;310(1):108–15. doi: 10.1124/jpet.104.065748.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Dvir M, Strulovich R, Sachyani D, Cohen IB-T, Haitin Y, Dessauer C, Pongs O, Kass R, Hirsch JA, Attali B. Long QT mutations at the interface between KCNQ1 helix C and KCNE1 disrupt I-KS regulation by PKA and PIP2. J Cell Sci. 2014;127(18):3943–55. doi: 10.1242/jcs.147033.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Hacker BM, Tomlinson JE, Wayman GA, Sultana R, Chan G, Villacres E, Disteche C, Storm DR. Cloning, chromosomal mapping, and regulatory properties of the human type 9 adenylyl cyclase (ADCY9). Genomics. 1998;50(1):97–104. doi: 10.1006/geno.1998.5293.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Halls ML, Cooper DMF. Regulation by Ca(2+)-signaling pathways of adenylyl cyclases. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2011;3(1). doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a004143.
  13. Haunsø A, Simpson J, Antoni FA. Small ligands modulating the activity of mammalian adenylyl cyclases: A novel mode of inhibition by calmidazolium. Mol Pharmacol. 2003;63:624–31.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Houslay MD. Underpinning compartmentalised cAMP signalling through targeted cAMP breakdown. Trends Biochem Science. 2010;35(2):91–100. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2009.09.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Johannessen CM, Johnson LA, Piccioni F, Townes A, Frederick DT, Donahue MK, Narayan R, Flaherty KT, Wargo JA, Root DE, Garraway LA. A melanocyte lineage program confers resistance to MAP kinase pathway inhibition. Nature. 2013;504(7478):138–42. doi: 10.1038/nature12688.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Lefkimmiatis K, Zaccolo M. cAMP signaling in subcellular compartments. Pharmacol Ther. 2014;143(3):295–304. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2014.03.008.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Li Y, Chen L, Kass RS, Dessauer CW. The A-kinase anchoring protein Yotiao facilitates complex formation between adenylyl cyclase type 9 and the IKs potassium channel in heart. J Biol Chem. 2012;287(35):29815–24. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.380568.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Mons N, Segu L, Nogues X, Buhot M. Effects of age and spatial learning on adenylyl cyclase mRNA expression in the mouse hippocampus. Neurobiol Aging. 2004;25(8):1095–106.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Niesor EJ, Benghozi R, Amouyel P, Ferdinand KC, Schwartz GG. Adenylyl cyclase 9 polymorphisms reveal potential link to HDL function and cardiovascular events in multiple pathologies: Potential implications in sickle cell disease. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2015;29(6):563–72. doi: 10.1007/s10557-015-6626-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Osteen JD, Sampson KJ, Kass RS. The cardiac IKs channel, complex indeed. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107(44):18751–2. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1014150107.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Paterson JM, Smith SM, Simpson J, Grace OC, Sosunov AA, Bell J, Antoni FA. Characterisation of human adenylyl cyclase IX reveals inhibition by Ca2+/calcineurin and differential mRNA polyadenylation. J Neurochem. 2000;75(4):1358–67.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Piggott LA, Bauman AL, Scott JD, Dessauer CW. The A-kinase anchoring protein Yotiao binds and regulates adenylyl cyclase in brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008;105(37):13835–40. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712100105.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Premont RT, Matsuoka I, Mattei M-G, Pouille Y, Defer N, Hanoune J. Identification and characterization of a widely expressed from of adenylyl cyclase. J Biol Chem. 1996;271:13900–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Simpson J, Morrice N, Chen P, Antoni FA. Regulation of adenylyl cyclase 9 by cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5 (cdk5). Bioscience 2006. Glasgow: Portland Press; 2006. 0449.Google Scholar
  25. Small K, Brown K, Theiss C, Seman C, Weiss S, Liggett S. An Ile to Met polymorphism in the catalytic domain of adenylyl cyclase type 9 confers reduced beta2-adrenergic receptor stimulation. Pharmacogenetics. 2003;13(9):535–41.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Tardif JC, Rheaume E, Lemieux Perreault LP, Gregoire JC, Feroz Zada Y, Asselin G, Provost S, Barhdadi A, Rhainds D, L'Allier PL, Ibrahim R, Upmanyu R, Niesor EJ, Benghozi R, Suchankova G, Laghrissi-Thode F, Guertin MC, Olsson AG, Mongrain I, Schwartz GG, Dube MP. Pharmacogenomic determinants of the cardiovascular effects of dalcetrapib. Circ Cardiovasc Genet. 2015;8(2):372–82. doi: 10.1161/circgenetics.114.000663.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Tesmer J, Sprang S. The structure, catalytic mechanism and regulation of adenylyl cyclase. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 1998;8(6):713–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Toyota T, Yamada K, Saito K, Detera-Wadleigh S, Yoshikawa T. Association analysis of adenylate cyclase type 9 gene using pedigree disequilibrium test in bipolar disorder. Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7(5):450–2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Yan SZ, Huang ZH, Andrews RK, Tang WJ. Conversion of forskolin-insensitive to forskolin-sensitive (mouse-type IX) adenylyl cyclase. Mol Pharmacol. 1998;53(2):182–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Integrative PhysiologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK