GPR109A is a G-protein-coupled receptor for nicotinate but recognizes butyrate with low affinity. Millimolar concentrations of butyrate are needed to activate the receptor. The expression of GPR109A is silenced in colon cancer in humans, in a mouse model of intestinal/colon cancer, and in colon cancer cell lines. The tumor-associated silencing of GPR109A involves DNA methylation directly or indirectly. Reexpression of GPR109A in colon cancer cells induces apoptosis, but only in the presence of its ligands butyrate and nicotinate. Butyrate is an inhibitor of histone deacetylases, but apoptosis induced by activation of GPR109A with its ligands in colon cancer cells does not involve inhibition of histone deacetylation.