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Open access

Ann Louise Hunter, Natasha Narang, Matthew Baxter, David W Ray and Toryn M Poolman

Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is a valuable tool for the endocrine researcher, providing a means to measure the recruitment of hormone-activated nuclear receptors, for example. However, the technique can be challenging to perform and has multiple experimental steps, risking introduction of error at each. The data produced can be challenging to interpret; several different methods are commonly used for normalising data and thus comparing between conditions. Absolute, sensitive quantification of protein-bound DNA is important for correct interpretation of the data. In addition, such quantification can help the investigator in troubleshooting experiments. Here, we outline a ChIP strategy combining droplet digital PCR for accurate quantification with an internal spike-in control for normalisation. This combination strengthens the reliability of ChIP data and allows the operator to optimise their protocol with greater confidence.

Open access

Oro Uchenunu, Michael Pollak, Ivan Topisirovic and Laura Hulea

Notwithstanding that metabolic perturbations and dysregulated protein synthesis are salient features of cancer, the mechanism underlying coordination of cellular energy balance with mRNA translation (which is the most energy consuming process in the cell) is poorly understood. In this review, we focus on recently emerging insights in the molecular underpinnings of the cross-talk between oncogenic kinases, translational apparatus and cellular energy metabolism. In particular, we focus on the central signaling nodes that regulate these processes (e.g. the mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin MTOR) and the potential implications of these findings on improving the anti-neoplastic efficacy of oncogenic kinase inhibitors.

Open access

Rachel S Fletcher and Gareth G Lavery

The concept of replenishing or elevating NAD+ availability to combat metabolic disease and ageing is an area of intense research. This has led to a need to define the endogenous regulatory pathways and mechanisms cells and tissues utilise to maximise NAD+ availability such that strategies to intervene in the clinical setting are able to be fully realised. This review discusses the importance of different salvage pathways involved in metabolising the vitamin B3 class of NAD+ precursor molecules, with a particular focus on the recently identified nicotinamide riboside kinase pathway at both a tissue-specific and systemic level.

Open access

Hyon-Seung Yi, Joon Young Chang and Minho Shong

Mitochondria perform essential roles as crucial organelles for cellular and systemic energy homeostasis, and as signaling hubs, which coordinate nuclear transcriptional responses to the intra- and extra-cellular environment. Complex human diseases, including diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease and aging-related degenerative diseases are associated with alterations in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) function. However, a recent series of studies in animal models have revealed that an integrated response to tolerable mitochondrial stress appears to render cells less susceptible to subsequent aging processes and metabolic stresses, which is a key feature of mitohormesis. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) is a central part of the mitohormetic response and is a retrograde signaling pathway, which utilizes the mitochondria-to-nucleus communication network. Our understanding of the UPRmt has contributed to elucidating the role of mitochondria in metabolic adaptation and lifespan regulation. In this review, we discuss and integrate recent data from the literature on the present status of mitochondrial OxPhos function in the development of metabolic diseases, relying on evidence from human and other animal studies, which points to alterations in mitochondrial function as a key factor in the regulation of metabolic diseases and conclude with a discussion on the specific roles of UPRmt and mitohormesis as a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of obesity and insulin resistance.

Open access

Douglas A Gibson, Paul A Foster, Ioannis Simitsidellis, Hilary O D Critchley, Olympia Kelepouri, Frances Collins and Philippa T K Saunders

In women, establishment of pregnancy is dependent upon ‘fine-tuning’ of the endometrial microenvironment, which is mediated by terminal differentiation (decidualisation) of endometrial stromal fibroblasts (ESFs). We have demonstrated that intracrine steroid metabolism plays a key role in regulating decidualisation and is essential for time-dependent expression of key factors required for endometrial receptivity. The primary aim of the current study was to determine whether sulphated steroids can act as precursors to bioactive sex steroids during decidualisation. We used primary human ESF and a robust in vitro model of decidualisation to assess the expression of genes associated with sulphation, desulphation and transport of sulphated steroids in human ESF as well as the impact of the steroid sulphatase (STS) inhibitor STX64 (Irosustat). We found evidence for an increase in both expression and activity of STS in response to a decidualisation stimulus with abrogation of oestrone biosynthesis and decreased secretion of the decidualisation marker IGFBP1 in the presence of STX64. These results provide novel insight into the contribution of STS to the intracrine regulation of decidualisation.

Open access

Emma J Agnew, Jessica R Ivy, Sarah J Stock and Karen E Chapman

Glucocorticoids are essential in mammals to mature fetal organs and tissues in order to survive after birth. Hence, antenatal glucocorticoid treatment (termed antenatal corticosteroid therapy) can be life-saving in preterm babies and is commonly used in women at risk of preterm birth. While the effects of glucocorticoids on lung maturation have been well described, the effects on the fetal heart remain less clear. Experiments in mice have shown that endogenous glucocorticoid action is required to mature the fetal heart. However, whether the potent synthetic glucocorticoids used in antenatal corticosteroid therapy have similar maturational effects on the fetal heart is less clear. Moreover, antenatal corticosteroid therapy may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Here, we present a narrative review of the evidence relating to the effects of antenatal glucocorticoid action on the fetal heart and discuss the implications for antenatal corticosteroid therapy.

Open access

Yasmine Hachemi, Anna E Rapp, Ann-Kristin Picke, Gilbert Weidinger, Anita Ignatius and Jan Tuckermann

Glucocorticoid hormones (GCs) have profound effects on bone metabolism. Via their nuclear hormone receptor – the GR – they act locally within bone cells and modulate their proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Consequently, high glucocorticoid levels – as present during steroid therapy or stress – impair bone growth and integrity, leading to retarded growth and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis, respectively. Because of their profound impact on the immune system and bone cell differentiation, GCs also affect bone regeneration and fracture healing. The use of conditional-mutant mouse strains in recent research provided insights into the cell-type-specific actions of the GR. However, despite recent advances in system biology approaches addressing GR genomics in general, little is still known about the molecular mechanisms of GCs and GR in bone cells. Here, we review the most recent findings on the molecular mechanisms of the GR in general and the known cell-type-specific actions of the GR in mesenchymal cells and their derivatives as well as in osteoclasts during bone homeostasis, GC excess, bone regeneration and fracture healing.

Open access

Daniela Nasteska and David J Hodson

It is becoming increasingly apparent that not all insulin-secreting beta cells are equal. Subtle differences exist at the transcriptomic and protein expression levels, with repercussions for beta cell survival/proliferation, calcium signalling and insulin release. Notably, beta cell heterogeneity displays plasticity during development, metabolic stress and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Thus, heterogeneity or lack thereof may be an important contributor to beta cell failure during T2DM in both rodents and humans. The present review will discuss the molecular and cellular features of beta cell heterogeneity at both the single-cell and islet level, explore how this influences islet function and insulin release and look into the alterations that may occur during obesity and T2DM.

Open access

Paul de Goede, Jakob Wefers, Eline Constance Brombacher, Patrick Schrauwen and Andries Kalsbeek

Many physiological processes are regulated with a 24-h periodicity to anticipate the environmental changes of daytime to nighttime and vice versa. These 24-h regulations, commonly termed circadian rhythms, among others control the sleep–wake cycle, locomotor activity and preparation for food availability during the active phase (daytime for humans and nighttime for nocturnal animals). Disturbing circadian rhythms at the organ or whole-body level by social jetlag or shift work, increases the risk to develop chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus. The molecular basis of this risk is a topic of increasing interest. Mitochondria are essential organelles that produce the majority of energy in eukaryotes by converting lipids and carbohydrates into ATP through oxidative phosphorylation. To adapt to the ever-changing environment, mitochondria are highly dynamic in form and function and a loss of this flexibility is linked to metabolic diseases. Interestingly, recent studies have indicated that changes in mitochondrial morphology (i.e., fusion and fission) as well as generation of new mitochondria are dependent on a viable circadian clock. In addition, fission and fusion processes display diurnal changes that are aligned to the light/darkness cycle. Besides morphological changes, mitochondrial respiration also displays diurnal changes. Disturbing the molecular clock in animal models leads to abrogated mitochondrial rhythmicity and altered respiration. Moreover, mitochondrial-dependent production of reactive oxygen species, which plays a role in cellular signaling, has also been linked to the circadian clock. In this review, we will summarize recent advances in the study of circadian rhythms of mitochondria and how this is linked to the molecular circadian clock.

Open access

Zhengjie Yan, Youjin Dai, Heling Fu, Yuan Zheng, Dan Bao, Yuan Yin, Qin Chen, Xiaowei Nie, Qingting Hao, Daorong Hou and Yugui Cui

This study was designed to investigate the protective effect of curcumin against d-galactose (d-gal)-induced premature ovarian failure (POF) in mice. A mouse POF model was induced by subcutaneous injection of d-gal (200 mg/kg/day) daily for 42 days. Mice in the curcumin group received both d-gal treatment and intraperitoneal injection of curcumin (100 mg/kg/day) for 42 days. Ovarian function, oxidative stress and apoptosis were evaluated. The P, E2 and SOD levels were higher, and the FSH, LH and MDA levels were significantly lower in the curcumin group than those in the d-gal group. The proportion of primordial follicles was also significantly higher in the curcumin group than that in the d-gal group. In addition, curcumin treatment after d-gal administration resulted in significantly lower Sod2, Cat, 8-OhdG, 4-HNE, NTY and senescence-associated protein P16 expression levels, higher Amh expression levels and less apoptosis in granulosa cells than was observed in the d-gal group. Moreover, the p-Akt, Nrf2 and HO-1 protein expression levels were significantly higher and the apoptosis-related cleaved caspase-3 and -9 protein expression levels were markedly lower in the curcumin group than in the d-gal group. In conclusion, curcumin effectively inhibited d-gal-induced oxidative stress, apoptosis and ovarian injury via a mechanism involving the Nrf2/HO-1 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways, suggesting that curcumin is a potential protective agent against POF.