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Open access

Tien-Chun Yang, Mei-Hua Lu, Wei-Jie Wang, and Jang-Yi Chen

The pathogenesis of hypertension is not fully understood; endothelin 1 (EDN1) is involved in developing essential hypertension. EDN1 can promote vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation or hypertrophy through autocrine and paracrine effects. Proliferating smooth muscle cells in the aorta are 'dedifferentiated' cells that cause increased arterial stiffness and remodeling. Male SHRs had higher aortic stiffness than normal control male WKY rats. Male SHR VSMCs expressed high levels of the EDN1 gene, but endothelial cells did not. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the molecular mechanism of enhanced EDN1 expression in SHR VSMCs. We identified POU2F2 and CEBPB as the main molecules that enhance EDN1 expression in male SHR VSMCs. A promoter activity analysis confirmed that the enhancer region of the Edn1 promoter in male SHR VSMCs was from −1309 to −1279 bp. POU2F2 and CEBPB exhibited an additive role in the enhancer region of the EdnET1 promoter. POU2F2 or CEBPB overexpression sufficiently increased EDN1 expression, and co-transfection with the CEBPB and POU2F2 expression plasmids had additive effects on the activity of the Edn1 promoter and EDN1 secretion level of male WKY VSMCs. In addition, the knockdown of POU2F2 also revealed that POU2F2 is necessary to enhance EDN1 expression in SHR VSMCs. The enhancer region of the Edn1 promoter is highly conserved in rats, mice, and humans. POU2F2 and CEBPB mRNA levels were significantly increased in remodeled human VMSCs. In conclusion, the novel regulation of POU2F2 and CEBPB in VSMCs will help us understand the pathogenesis of hypertension and support the development of future treatments for hypertension.

Open access

Hong Chen, Weiyu Li, Suping Zhang, Yunteng Sun, Yiping Shen, and Ruimin Chen

Pathogenic variants in the transcription factor CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) are associated with mental retardation, autosomal dominant 21 (MRD21, MIM#615502). Current studies supported the strong relationship between CTCF variants and growth, yet the mechanism of CTCF mutation leading to short stature is not known. Clinical information, treatment regimens, and follow-up outcomes of a patient with MRD21 were collected. The possible pathogenic mechanisms of CTCF variants leading to short stature were investigated using immortalized lymphocyte cell lines (LCLs), HEK-293T, and immortalized normal human liver cell lines (LO2). This patient received long-term treatment with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) which resulted in an increased height of 1.0 SDS. She had low serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) before the treatment and the IGF1 level was not significantly increased during the treatment (−1.38 ± 0.61 SDS). The finding suggested that the CTCF R567W variant could have impaired IGF1 production pathway. We further demonstrated that the mutant CTCF had a reduced ability to bind to the promoter region of IGF1, consequently significantly reducing the transcriptional activation and expression of IGF1. Our novel results demonstrated a direct positive regulation of CTCF on the transcription of the IGF1 promoter. The impaired IGF1 expression due to CTCF mutation may explain the substandard effect of rhGH treatment on MRD21 patients. This study provided novel insights into the molecular basis of CTCF-associated disorder.

Open access

Aqfan Jamaluddin and Caroline M Gorvin

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have a critical role in energy homeostasis, contributing to food intake, energy expenditure and glycaemic control. Dysregulation of energy expenditure can lead to metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, elevated plasma triglyceride, LDL cholesterol and glucose, and high blood pressure), which is associated with an increased risk of developing obesity, diabetes mellitus, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular complications. As the prevalence of these chronic diseases continues to rise worldwide, there is an increased need to understand the molecular mechanisms by which energy expenditure is regulated to facilitate the development of effective therapeutic strategies to treat and prevent these conditions. In recent years, drugs targeting GPCRs have been the focus of efforts to improve treatments for type-2 diabetes and obesity, with GLP-1R agonists a particular success. In this review, we focus on nine GPCRs with roles in energy homeostasis that are current and emerging targets to treat obesity and diabetes. We discuss findings from pre-clinical models and clinical trials of drugs targeting these receptors and challenges that must be overcome before these drugs can be routinely used in clinics. We also describe new insights into how these receptors signal, including how accessory proteins, biased signalling, and complex spatial signalling could provide unique opportunities to develop more efficacious therapies with fewer side effects. Finally, we describe how combined therapies, in which multiple GPCRs are targeted, may improve clinical outcomes and reduce off-target effects.

Open access

Erik Elebring, Anna Casselbrant, Sara M T Persson, Lars Fändriks, and Ville Wallenius

Ingestion of nutrients stimulates incretin secretion from enteroendocrine cells (EECs) of the epithelial layer of the gut. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is one of these incretins that stimulate postprandial insulin release and signal satiety to the brain. Understanding the regulation of incretin secretion might open up new therapeutic options for obesity and type-2 diabetes mellitus. To investigate the inhibitory effect of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) on glucose-induced GLP-1 secretion from EECs, in vitro cultures of murine GLUTag cells and differentiated human jejunal enteroid monolayers were stimulated with glucose to induce GLP-1 secretion. The effect of βHB on GLP-1 secretion was studied using ELISA and ECLIA methods. GLUTag cells stimulated with glucose and βHB were analysed using global proteomics focusing on cellular signalling pathways and the results were verified by Western blot. Results demonstrated βHB had a significant inhibitory effect on glucose-induced GLP-1 secretion at a dose of 100 mM in GLUTag cells. In differentiated human jejunal enteroid monolayers, glucose-induced secretion of GLP-1 was inhibited at a much lower dose of 10 mM βHB. The addition of βHB to GLUTag cells resulted in decreased phosphorylation of kinase AKT and transcription factor STAT3 and also influenced the expressions of signalling molecule IRS-2, kinase DGKε and receptor FFAR3. In conclusion, βHB displays an inhibitory effect on glucose-induced GLP-1 secretion in vitro in GLUTag cells and in differentiated human jejunal enteroid monolayers. This effect may be mediated through multiple downstream mediators of G-protein coupled receptor activation, such as PI3K signalling.

Open access

Stuart Baker, Ricardo Núñez Miguel, Daniel Thomas, Michael Powell, Jadwiga Furmaniak, and Bernard Rees Smith

Determination of the structure of the extracellular domain of human thyroid peroxidase (hTPO) by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is described. TPO, purified to homogeneity was complexed with the hTPO monoclonal autoantibody 2G4 Fab and also with a mouse monoclonal TPO antibody 4F5 Fab (which competes with autoantibody binding to TPO). Both complexes were analysed by cryo-EM. The two structures (global resolution 3.92 and 3.4 Å for the 2G4 complex and 4F5 complex, respectively) show TPO as a monomer with four domains; the N-terminal domain, the peroxidase domain (POD), the complement control protein (CCP)-like domain and the epidermal growth factor-like domain which are all visible in the structures. The relative positions of the domains are fixed with a disulphide bond between cysteine residues Cys146 in the POD and Cys756 in the CCP domain preventing significant flexibility of the molecule. The entrance to the enzyme active site, the haem group and the calcium binding site are clearly visible on the opposite side of the TPO molecule from the 2G4 and 4F5 binding sites. Extensive interactions are seen between TPO and the two antibodies which both bind to distinct epitopes on the POD domain, including some residues in the immunodominant region B mainly via different residues. However, the epitopes of the two antibodies contain three shared TPO residues. This is the first high-resolution structure of TPO to be reported and it should help guide the development of new inhibitors of TPO enzyme activity for therapeutic applications.

Open access

Caroline M Gorvin, Paul J Newey, and Rajesh V Thakker

The prolactin receptor (PRLR) signals predominantly through the JAK2-STAT5 pathway regulating multiple physiological functions relating to fertility, lactation, and metabolism. However, the molecular pathology and role of PRLR mutations and signalling are incompletely defined, with progress hampered by a lack of reported disease-associated PRLR variants. To date, two common germline PRLR variants are reported to demonstrate constitutive activity, with one, Ile146Leu, overrepresented in benign breast disease, while a rare activating variant, Asn492Ile, is reported to be associated with an increased incidence of prolactinoma. In contrast, an inactivating germline heterozygous PRLR variant (His188Arg) was reported in a kindred with hyperprolactinaemia, while an inactivating compound heterozygous PRLR variant (Pro269Leu/Arg171Stop) was identified in an individual with hyperprolactinaemia and agalactia. We hypothesised that additional rare germline PRLR variants, identified from large-scale sequencing projects (ExAC and GnomAD), may be associated with altered in vitro PRLR signalling activity. We therefore evaluated >300 previously uncharacterised non-synonymous, germline PRLR variants and selected 10 variants for in vitro analysis based on protein prediction algorithms, proximity to known functional domains and structural modelling. Five variants, including extracellular and intracellular domain variants, were associated with altered responses when compared to the wild-type receptor. These altered responses included loss- and gain-of-function activities related to STAT5 signalling, Akt and FOXO1 activity, as well as cell viability and apoptosis. These studies provide further insight into PRLR structure–function and indicate that rare germline PRLR variants may have diverse modulating effects on PRLR signalling, although the pathophysiologic relevance of such alterations remains to be defined.

Open access

Rishel B Vohnoutka, Annapurna Kuppa, Yash Hegde, Yue Chen, Asmita Pant, Maurice E Tohme, Eun-Young (Karen) Choi, Sean M McCarty, Devika P Bagchi, Xiaomeng Du, Yanhua Chen, Vincent L Chen, Hiroyuki Mori, Lawrence F Bielak, Lillias H Maguire, Samuel K Handelman, Jonathan Z Sexton, Thomas L Saunders, Brian D Halligan, and Elizabeth K Speliotes

Human genome-wide association studies found single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near LYPLAL1 (Lysophospholipase-like protein 1) that have sex-specific effects on fat distribution and metabolic traits. To determine whether altering LYPLAL1 affects obesity and metabolic disease, we created and characterized a mouse knockout (KO) of Lyplal1. We fed the experimental group of mice a high-fat, high-sucrose (HFHS) diet for 23 weeks, and the controls were fed regular chow diet. Here, we show that CRISPR-Cas9 whole-body Lyplal1 KO mice fed an HFHS diet showed sex-specific differences in weight gain and fat accumulation as compared to chow diet. Female, not male, KO mice weighed less than WT mice, had reduced body fat percentage, had white fat mass, and had adipocyte diameter not accounted for by changes in the metabolic rate. Female, but not male, KO mice had increased serum triglycerides, decreased aspartate, and decreased alanine aminotransferase. Lyplal1 KO mice of both sexes have reduced liver triglycerides and steatosis. These diet-specific effects resemble the effects of SNPs near LYPLAL1 in humans, suggesting that LYPLAL1 has an evolutionary conserved sex-specific effect on adiposity. This murine model can be used to study this novel gene-by-sex-by-diet interaction to elucidate the metabolic effects of LYPLAL1 on human obesity.

Open access

Rikus Botha, Shree Senthil Kumar, Natasha L Grimsey, and Kathleen Grace Mountjoy

The human melanocortin-4 receptor plays a critical role regulating energy homeostasis. Studies on obesogenic hMC4R variants have not yet revealed how human melanocortin-4 receptor maintains body weight. Here, we identified a signaling profile for obesogenic constitutively active H76R and L250Q human melanocortin-4 receptor variants transfected in HEK293 cells that included constitutive activity for adenylyl cyclase, cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-driven transcription, and calcium mobilization, but not phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 activity. Importantly, the signaling profile included impaired α-melanocyte-stimulating-hormone-induced cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-driven transcription, but not impaired α-melanocyte-stimulating-hormone-induced adenylyl cyclase, calcium, or phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2. This profile was not observed for transfected H158R, a constitutively active human melanocortin-4 receptor variant associated with overweight, but not obesity. We concluded that there is potential for α-melanocyte-stimulating-hormone-induced cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-driven transcription in HEK293 cells transfected with obesogenic human melanocortin-4 receptor variants to be the key predictive tool for determining whether they exhibit loss-of-function. Furthermore, in vivo α-melanocyte-stimulating-hormone-induced human melanocortin-4 receptor cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-driven transcription may be key for maintaining body weight.

Open access

Selina Mäkinen, Neeta Datta, Savithri Rangarajan, Yen H Nguyen, Vesa M Olkkonen, Aino Latva-Rasku, Pirjo Nuutila, Markku Laakso, and Heikki A Koistinen

Finnish-specific gene variant p.P50T/AKT2 (minor allele frequency (MAF) = 1.1%) is associated with insulin resistance and increased predisposition to type 2 diabetes. Here, we have investigated in vitro the impact of the gene variant on glucose metabolism and intracellular signalling in human primary skeletal muscle cells, which were established from 14 male p.P50T/AKT2 variant carriers and 14 controls. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and glucose incorporation into glycogen were detected with 2-[1,2-3H]-deoxy-D-glucose and D-[14C]-glucose, respectively, and the rate of glycolysis was measured with a Seahorse XFe96 analyzer. Insulin signalling was investigated with Western blotting. The binding of variant and control AKT2-PH domains to phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PI(3,4,5)P3) was assayed using PIP StripsTM Membranes. Protein tyrosine kinase and serine-threonine kinase assays were performed using the PamGene® kinome profiling system. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in myotubes in vitro were not significantly affected by the genotype. However, the insulin-stimulated glycolytic rate was impaired in variant myotubes. Western blot analysis showed that insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of AKT-Thr308, AS160-Thr642 and GSK3β-Ser9 was reduced in variant myotubes compared to controls. The binding of variant AKT2-PH domain to PI(3,4,5)P3 was reduced as compared to the control protein. PamGene® kinome profiling revealed multiple differentially phosphorylated kinase substrates, e.g. calmodulin, between the genotypes. Further in silico upstream kinase analysis predicted a large-scale impairment in activities of kinases participating, for example, in intracellular signal transduction, protein translation and cell cycle events. In conclusion, myotubes from p.P50T/AKT2 variant carriers show multiple signalling alterations which may contribute to predisposition to insulin resistance and T2D in the carriers of this signalling variant.

Open access

Ricardo Núñez Miguel, Paul Sanders, Lloyd Allen, Michele Evans, Matthew Holly, William Johnson, Andrew Sullivan, Jane Sanders, Jadwiga Furmaniak, and Bernard Rees Smith

Determination of the full-length thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) structure by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is described. The TSHR complexed with human monoclonal TSHR autoantibody K1-70™ (a powerful inhibitor of TSH action) was detergent solubilised, purified to homogeneity and analysed by cryo-EM. The structure (global resolution 3.3 Å) is a monomer with all three domains visible: leucine-rich domain (LRD), hinge region (HR) and transmembrane domain (TMD). The TSHR extracellular domain (ECD, composed of the LRD and HR) is positioned on top of the TMD extracellular surface. Extensive interactions between the TMD and ECD are observed in the structure, and their analysis provides an explanation of the effects of various TSHR mutations on TSHR constitutive activity and on ligand-induced activation. K1-70™ is seen to be well clear of the lipid bilayer. However, superimposition of M22™ (a human monoclonal TSHR autoantibody which is a powerful stimulator of the TSHR) on the cryo-EM structure shows that it would clash with the bilayer unless the TSHR HR rotates upwards as part of the M22™ binding process. This rotation could have an important role in TSHR stimulation by M22™ and as such provides an explanation as to why K1-70™ blocks the binding of TSH and M22™ without activating the receptor itself.