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Open access

Zuo Zhang, Hongli Zhou, and Jiyin Zhou

Earlier, it was shown that reversing the downregulation of neuritin expression in the brain improves central neuropathy in diabetic rats. We investigated the protective mechanism of neuritin in diabetic cognitive dysfunction via astrocytes. Further, the impact of the overexpression of neuritin in the cortex and the hippocampus on diabetic cognitive dysfunction and astrogliosis in type 2 diabetic (db/db) mice was assessed. Antagonists were used to inhibit the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway in U-118MG, an astrocyte cell line. Immunofluorescence, Western blotting, and real-time PCR were performed. Neuritin overexpression in the hippocampus of db/db mice significantly ameliorated cognitive dysfunction, hippocampal neuronal impairment, and synaptic plasticity deterioration, and inhibited astrogliosis and the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway in the hippocampus. Neuritin suppressed the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway to inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced gliosis in U-118MG cells. It was observed that neuritin regulates the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway in astrocytes to inhibit astrogliosis and improve diabetic cognitive dysfunction.

Open access

Shree Senthil Kumar, Marie-Louise Ward, and Kathleen Grace Mountjoy

The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), a critical G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) regulating energy homeostasis, activates multiple signalling pathways, including mobilisation of intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i). However, very little is known about the physiological significance of MC4R-induced [Ca2+]i since few studies measure MC4R-induced [Ca2+]i. High-throughput, read-out assays for [Ca2+]i have proven unreliable for overexpressed GPCRs like MC4R, which exhibit low sensitivity mobilising [Ca2+]i. Therefore, we developed, optimised, and validated a robust quantitative high-throughput assay using Fura-2 ratio-metric calcium dye and HEK293 cells stably transfected with MC4R. The quantitation enables direct comparisons between assays and even between different research laboratories. Assay conditions were optimised step-by-step to eliminate interference from stretch-activated receptor increases in [Ca2+]i and to maximise ligand-activated MC4R-induced [Ca2+]i. Calcium imaging was performed using a PheraStar FS multi-well plate reader. Probenecid, included in the buffers to prevent extrusion of Fura-2 dye from cells, was found to interfere with the EGTA-chelation of calcium, required to determine Rmin for quantitation of [Ca2+]i. Therefore, we developed a method to determine Rmin in specific wells without probenecid, which was run in parallel with each assay. The validation of the assay was shown by reproducible α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) concentration-dependent activation of the stably expressed human MC4R (hMC4R) and mouse MC4R (mMC4R), inducing increases in [Ca2+]i, for three independent experiments. This robust, reproducible, high-throughput assay that quantitatively measures MC4R-induced mobilisation of [Ca2+]i in vitro has potential to advance the development of therapeutic drugs and understanding of MC4R signalling associated with human obesity.

Open access

Feng Zhang, Qi Xiong, Hu Tao, Yang Liu, Nian Zhang, Xiao-Feng Li, Xiao-Jun Suo, Qian-Ping Yang, and Ming-Xin Chen

Acyl-coenzyme A oxidase 1 (ACOX1) is the first and rate-limiting enzyme in peroxisomal fatty acid β-oxidation of fatty acids. Previous studies have reported that ACOX1 was correlated with the meat quality of livestock, while the role of ACOX1 in intramuscular adipogenesis of beef cattle and its transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. In the present study, gain-of-function and loss-of-function assays demonstrated that ACOX1 positively regulated the adipogenesis of bovine intramuscular preadipocytes. The C/EBPα-binding sites in the bovine ACOX1 promoter region at −1142 to −1129 bp, −831 to −826 bp, and −303 to −298 bp were identified by promoter deletion analysis and site-directed mutagenesis. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) further showed that these three regions are C/EBPα-binding sites, both in vitro and in vivo, indicating that C/EBPα directly interacts with the bovine ACOX1 promoter and inhibits its transcription. Furthermore, the results from bioinformatics analysis, dual luciferase assay, site-directed mutagenesis, qRT-PCR, and Western blotting demonstrated that miR-25-3p directly targeted the ACOX1 3’UTR (3’UTR). Taken together, our findings suggest that ACOX1, regulated by transcription factor C/EBPα and miR-25-3p, promotes adipogenesis of bovine intramuscular preadipocytes via regulating peroxisomal fatty acid β-oxidation.

Open access

Nathan Appanna, Hylton Gibson, Elena Gangitano, Niall J Dempster, Karen Morris, Sherly George, Anastasia Arvaniti, Laura L Gathercole, Brian Keevil, Trevor M Penning, Karl-Heinz Storbeck, Jeremy W Tomlinson, and Nikolaos Nikolaou

Steroid hormones, including glucocorticoids and androgens, exert a wide variety of effects in the body across almost all tissues. The steroid A-ring 5β-reductase (AKR1D1) is expressed in human liver and testes, and three splice variants have been identified (AKR1D1-001, AKR1D1-002, AKR1D1-006). Amongst these, AKR1D1-002 is the best described; it modulates steroid hormone availability and catalyses an important step in bile acid biosynthesis. However, specific activity and expression of AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 are unknown. Expression of AKR1D1 variants were measured in human liver biopsies and hepatoma cell lines by qPCR. Their three-dimensional (3D) structures were predicted using in silico approaches. AKR1D1 variants were overexpressed in HEK293 cells, and successful overexpression confirmed by qPCR and Western blotting. Cells were treated with either cortisol, dexamethasone, prednisolone, testosterone or androstenedione, and steroid hormone clearance was measured by mass spectrometry. Glucocorticoid and androgen receptor activation were determined by luciferase reporter assays. AKR1D1-002 and AKR1D1-001 are expressed in human liver, and only AKR1D1-006 is expressed in human testes. Following overexpression, AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 protein levels were lower than AKR1D1-002, but significantly increased following treatment with the proteasomal inhibitor, MG-132. AKR1D1-002 efficiently metabolised glucocorticoids and androgens and decreased receptor activation. AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 poorly metabolised dexamethasone, but neither protein metabolised cortisol, prednisolone, testosterone or androstenedione. We have demonstrated the differential expression and role of AKR1D1 variants in steroid hormone clearance and receptor activation in vitro. AKR1D1-002 is the predominant functional protein in steroidogenic and metabolic tissues. In addition, AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 may have a limited, steroid-specific role in the regulation of dexamethasone action.

Open access

Claire V Harper, Anne V McNamara, David G Spiller, Jayne C Charnock, Michael R H White, and Julian R E Davis

Pituitary cells have been reported to show spontaneous calcium oscillations and dynamic transcription cycles. To study both processes in the same living cell in real time, we used rat pituitary GH3 cells stably expressing human prolactin-luciferase or prolactin-EGFP reporter gene constructs loaded with a fluorescent calcium indicator and measured activity using single-cell time-lapse microscopy. We observed heterogeneity between clonal cells in the calcium activity and prolactin transcription in unstimulated conditions. There was a significant correlation between cells displaying spontaneous calcium spikes and cells showing spontaneous bursts in prolactin expression. Notably, cells showing no basal calcium activity showed low prolactin expression but elicited a significantly greater transcriptional response to BayK8644 compared to cells showing basal calcium activity. This suggested the presence of two subsets of cells within the population at any one time. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting was used to sort cells into two populations based on the expression level of prolactin-EGFP however, the bimodal pattern of expression was restored within 26 h. Chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that these sorted populations were distinct due to the extent of histone acetylation. We suggest that maintenance of a heterogeneous bimodal population is a fundamental characteristic of this cell type and that calcium activation and histone acetylation, at least in part, drive prolactin transcriptional competence.

Open access

Liting Wu, Li Xiong, Jin Li, Zishan Peng, Luyao Zhang, Peijie Shi, Yingying Gong, and Haipeng Xiao

This study aimed to identify circular RNAs differentially expressed in the islets of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) models and clarify their roles in the control of β-cell functions. Circular RNAs dysregulated in the islets of diabetic db/db mice were identified by high-throughput RNA sequencing. Then, the expression level of the selected circular RNA circ-Tulp4 was confirmed by real-time PCR in the islets of diabetic models and Min6 cells. MTS, EdU, western blot, flow cytometric analysis, and luciferase assay were performed to investigate the impact of circ-Tulp4 on β-cell functions. This study identified thousands of circular RNAs in mouse pancreatic islets. The circ-Tulp4 level significantly decreased in the diabetic models and altered in the Min6 cells under lipotoxic condition. The modulation of circ-Tulp4 level in Min6 cells regulated cell proliferation. Furthermore, an interaction was demonstrated between circ-Tulp4 and miR-7222-3p, which suppressed the expression of cholesterol esterification-related gene, sterol O-acyltransferase 1 (SOAT1). The accumulation of soat1 activated cyclin D1 expression, thus promoting cell cycle progression. These findings showed that circ-Tulp4 regulated β-cell proliferation via miR-7222-3p/soat1/cyclin D1 signaling. Our research suggested that circ-Tulp4 might be a potential therapeutic intervention for T2DM. Besides, soat1 might be important for β-cell adaptation to lipotoxicity.

Open access

Miguel Beato, Roni H G Wright, and François Le Dily

Gene regulation by steroid hormones has been at the forefront in elucidating the intricacies of transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes ever since the discovery by Karlson and Clever that the insect steroid hormone ecdysone induces chromatin puffs in giant chromosomes. After the successful cloning of the hormone receptors toward the end of the past century, detailed mechanistic insight emerged in some model systems, in particular the MMTV provirus. With the arrival of next generation DNA sequencing and the omics techniques, we have gained even further insight into the global cellular response to steroid hormones that in the past decades also extended to the function of the 3D genome topology. More recently, advances in high resolution microcopy, single cell genomics and the new vision of liquid-liquid phase transitions in the context of nuclear space bring us closer than ever to unravelling the logic of gene regulation and its complex integration of global cellular signaling networks. Using the function of progesterone and its cellular receptor in breast cancer cells, we will briefly summarize the history and describe the present extent of our knowledge on how regulatory proteins deal with the chromatin structure to gain access to DNA sequences and interpret the genomic instructions that enable cells to respond selectively to external signals by reshaping their gene regulatory networks.

Open access

Simak Ali, Kirsty Balachandran, and Bert O’Malley

Open access

H O D Critchley and R R Chodankar

Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) is a chronic, debilitating and common condition affecting one in four women of reproductive age. Current treatments (conservative, medical and surgical) may be unsuitable, poorly tolerated or may result in loss of fertility. Selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRMs) influence progesterone-regulated pathways, a hormone critical to female reproductive health and disease; therefore, SPRMs hold great potential in fulfilling an unmet need in managing gynaecological disorders. SPRMs in current clinical use include RU486 (mifepristone), which is licensed for pregnancy interruption, and CDB-2914 (ulipristal acetate), licensed for managing AUB in women with leiomyomas and in a higher dose as an emergency contraceptive. In this article, we explore the clinical journey of SPRMs and the need for further interrogation of this class of drugs with the ultimate goal of improving women’s quality of life.

Open access

Ting Xiao, Xiuci Liang, Hailan Liu, Feng Zhang, Wen Meng, and Fang Hu

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are associated with hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance. Molecular mechanisms underlying ER stress and/or mitochondrial dysfunction that cause metabolic disorders and hepatic steatosis remain to be fully understood. Here, we found that a high fat diet (HFD) or chemically induced ER stress can stimulate mitochondrial stress protein HSP60 expression, impair mitochondrial respiration, and decrease mitochondrial membrane potential in mouse hepatocytes. HSP60 overexpression promotes ER stress and hepatic lipogenic protein expression and impairs insulin signaling in mouse hepatocytes. Mechanistically, HSP60 regulates ER stress-induced hepatic lipogenesis via the mTORC1-SREBP1 signaling pathway. These results suggest that HSP60 is an important ER and mitochondrial stress cross-talking protein and may control ER stress-induced hepatic lipogenesis and insulin resistance.