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Excel Rio S Maylem, Leon J. Spicer, Isadora Batalha, and Luis F Schutz

Asprosin is a novel fasting-induced protein encoded by fibrillin-1 (FBN1) gene, produced when FBN1 is cleaved by the enzyme furin, and is associated with insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian syndrome in humans. To characterize mRNA abundance of FBN1, furin, and the presumed asprosin receptor, olfactory receptor family 4 subfamily M member 1 (OR4M1) in granulosa (GC) and theca cells (TC), and identify hormones regulating FBN1 mRNA expression, GC and TC from small (1-5 mm; SM) and large (>8 mm; LG) follicles were collected from ovaries of heifers obtained at an abattoir and used for real-time PCR gene expression analysis or in vitro evaluation of hormone regulation and asprosin effects. SMTC had 151-fold greater (P < 0.05) FBN1 mRNA abundance than SMGC, and LGTC had 50-fold greater FBN1 mRNA than LGGC. In contrast, OR4M1 mRNA was 81-fold greater in SMGC than LGGC and did not differ from SMTC, but LGTC had 9-fold greater OR4M1 mRNA than LGGC. Furin mRNA was 2.6-fold greater in SMTC than SMGC, but did not differ among follicular sizes. In cultured TC, leptin, insulin, LH, IGF1 and steroids did not affect FBN1 mRNA, but TGFβ1 increased (P < 0.05) FBN1 mRNA by 2.2-fold; EGF and FGFs increased FBN1 mRNA by 1.3- to 1.5-fold. Asprosin enhanced LH-induced TC androstenedione production, reduced IGF1-induced TC proliferation, and had no effect on progesterone production. Developmental regulation of FBN1, furin and OR4M1 along with direct effects of asprosin on TC suggests that asprosin may be a novel regulator of ovarian follicular function.

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Laurent Beck and Sarah Beck-Cormier

The critical role of phosphate (Pi) in countless biological processes requires the ability to control its concentration both intracellularly and extracellularly. At the body level, this concentration is finely regulated by numerous hormones, primarily parathyroid hormone (PTH) and fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23). While this control of the body’s Pi homeostasis is now well documented, knowledge of the mechanisms that allow the cell and the body to detect extracellular Pi variations is much less known. These systems are well described in bacteria, yeasts and plants, but as will be discussed in this review, knowledge obtained from these organisms is not entirely relevant to the requirements of Pi biology in mammals. In this review, we present the latest findings on extracellular Pi sensing in mammals, and describe the mammalian Pi sensors identified to date, such as SLC20A1 (PIT1)/SLC20A2 (PIT2) heterodimers and the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR). While there are many questions remaining to be resolved, a clarification of the Pi sensing mechanisms in mammals is critical to understanding the deregulation of Pi balance in certain life-threatening disease states, such as end-stage renal disease and associated vascular calcifications, and to proposing relevant therapeutic approaches.

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G Rosales-Soto, A Diaz-Vegas, M Casas, A Contreras-Ferrat, and E Jaimovich

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a pleiotropic peptide hormone that is considered a myokine playing a role in a variety of endocrine functions, including regulation of glucose transport and lipid metabolism. Although FGF21 has been associated with glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle cells, its cellular mechanism in adult skeletal muscle fibers glucose uptake is poorly understood. In the present study, we found that FGF21 induced a dose−response effect, increasing glucose uptake in skeletal muscle fibers from the flexor digitorum brevis muscle of mice, evaluated using the fluorescent glucose analog 2-NBDG (300 µM) in single living fibers. This effect was prevented by the use of either cytochalasin B (5 µM) or indinavir (100 µM), both antagonists of GLUT4 activity. The use of PI3K inhibitors such as LY294002 (50 µM) completely prevented the FGF21-dependent glucose uptake. In fibers electroporated with the construct encoding GLUT4myc-eGFP chimera and stimulated with FGF21 (100 ng/mL), a strong sarcolemmal GLUT4 label was detected. This effect promoted by FGF21 was demonstrated to be dependent on atypical PKC-ζ, by using selective PKC inhibitors. FGF21 at low concentrations potentiated the effect of insulin on glucose uptake but at high concentrations, completely inhibited the uptake in the presence of insulin. These results suggest that FGF21 regulates glucose uptake by a mechanism mediated by GLUT4 and dependent on atypical PKC-ζ in skeletal muscle.

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David W Scoville, Artiom Gruzdev, and Anton M Jetten

Recent advances in high throughput RNA sequencing have revealed that, in addition to messenger RNAs (mRNAs), long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play an important role in the regulation of many cell functions and of organ development. While a number of lncRNAs have been identified in pancreatic islets, their function remains largely undetermined. Here, we identify a novel long ncRNA regulated by the transcription factor GLIS3, which we refer to as GLIS3 regulated 1 (G3R1). This lncRNA was identified for its significant loss of expression in GLIS3 knockout mouse pancreatic islets. G3R1 appears to be specifically expressed in mouse pancreatic β-cells and in a β-cell line (βTC-6). ChIP-seq analysis indicated that GLIS3 and other islet-enriched transcription factors bind near the G3R1 gene, suggesting they directly regulate G3R1 transcription. Similarly, an apparent human homolog of G3R1 displays a similar expression pattern, with additional expression seen in human brain. In order to determine the function of G3R1 in mouse pancreatic β-cells, we utilized CRISPR to develop a knockout mouse where ~80% of G3R1 sequence is deleted. Phenotypic analysis of these mice did not reveal any impairment in β-cell function or glucose regulation, indicating the complexity underlying the study of lncRNA function.

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Bo Li, Yue Zhou, Jing Chen, Tingting Wang, Zhijuan Li, Yili Fu, Aixia Zhai, and Changlong Bi

Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is a chronic and non-healing complication of diabetes that leads to high hospital costs and, in extreme cases, to amputation. Recent studies have reported that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are linked to various diabetes-related symptoms. Thus, we aim to explore the role of lncRNA H19 in the wound healing process following DFU. Fibroblasts were isolated from the ulcer margin tissues of DFU patients, with the expression of lncRNA H19, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) or serum response factor (SRF) altered by lentivirus infection. Next, rat models of DFU induced by high glucose and lipid diet were established, which was also infected with the corresponding lentivirus. The interaction among lncRNA H19, SRF and CTGF was determined. Afterward, cell proliferation and apoptosis, angiogenesis, ECM remodeling and wound healing in DFU tissues were evaluated to explore the effects of lncRNA H19/SRF/CTGF and MAPK signaling pathway on DFU. CTGF was poorly expressed in ulcer tissues from DFU rats and patients. CTGF overexpression was shown to activate the MAPK signaling pathway to promote cell proliferation, ECM remodeling, angiogenesis and wound healing while inhibiting cell apoptosis. lncRNA H19 was validated to elevate CTGF expression by recruiting SRF to the promoter region of CTGF, thus accelerating cell proliferation, ECM remodeling and wound healing while repressing cell apoptosis. Furthermore, MAPK signaling pathway activation is confirmed to be the underlying mechanism behind lncRNA H19/CTGF/SRF-induced results. Thus, lncRNA H19 accelerated wound healing in DFU through elevation of CTGF and activation of the MAPK signaling pathway.

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Yuanyuan Huang, Hanlin Zhang, Meng Dong, Lei Zhang, Jun Lin, Rongcai Ye, Huiqiao Zhou, Xiaomeng Liu, and Wanzhu Jin

White adipose tissue (WAT) browning may have beneficial effects for treating metabolic syndrome. miRNA are important regulators of the differentiation, development, and function of brown and beige adipocytes. Here, we found that the cold-inducible miRNA17-92 cluster is enriched in brown adipose tissue (BAT) compared with WAT. Overexpression of the miR17-92 cluster in C3H10T1/2 cells, a mouse mesenchymal stem cell line, enhanced the thermogenic capacity of adipocytes. Furthermore, we observed a significant reduction in adiposity in adipose tissue-specific miR17-92 cluster transgenic (TG) mice. This finding is partly explained by dramatic increases in white fat browning and energy expenditure. Interestingly, the miR17-92 cluster stimulated WAT browning without altering BAT activity in mice. In addition, when we removed the intrascapular BAT (iBAT), the TG mice could maintain their body temperature well under cold exposure. At the molecular level, we found that the miR17-92 cluster targets Rb1, a beige cell repressor in WAT. The present study reveals a critical role for the miR17-92 cluster in regulating WAT browning. These results may be helpful for better understanding the function of beige fat, which could compensate for the lack of BAT in humans, and may open new avenues for combatting metabolic syndrome.

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JaeSang Ko, Ji-Young Kim, Eun Jig Lee, and Jin Sook Yoon

Inflammation and adipogenesis represent the main pathogenic mechanisms of Graves’ orbitopathy (GO), and oxidative stress is a well-known inducer of GO pathology. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has been suggested as a major contributor to inflammation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. In this study, we investigated the role of the ER-stress chaperone protein, binding immunoglobulin protein (BiP), in GO pathogenesis. Using primary cultures of orbital fibroblasts from patients with GO, we examined the role of BiP in GO pathogenesis by silencing its expression with small-interfering RNA (siRNA). Inflammatory cytokine expression was analysed by western blotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Intracellular ROS levels induced by hydrogen peroxide or cigarette smoke extract were measured by 5-(and 6)-carboxy-20,70-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate staining and flow cytometry. After adipogenic differentiation in BiP siRNA-transfected cells, the cells were stained with Oil Red O, and the levels of adipogenic transcription factors were determined by western blot analysis. BiP mRNA expression levels were significantly higher in GO orbital tissues than in non-GO orbital tissues. Silencing BiP attenuated the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-6, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1) in primary cultured GO orbital fibroblasts. Silencing BiP also reduced ROS generation, hyaluronan production, and adipocyte differentiation. These findings suggest that ER stress is involved in the aetiology of GO and that modulation of ER stress has therapeutic potential for GO.

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Pablo Pánico, Marcia Hiriart, Patricia Ostrosky-Wegman, and Ana María Salazar

The calpain-10 (CAPN10) protease is implicated in the translocation of the glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), which is retained in the Golgi matrix via the Tether containing a UBX domain for GLUT4 (TUG) protein. Insulin stimulation induces the proteolytic processing of TUG, which leads to the translocation of GLUT4 to the cell membrane. We tested whether TUG is a CAPN10 substrate. Proteolysis of TUG by calpains was assessed using a cell-free system containing calpain-1 and TUG. In situ proteolysis of TUG by calpains was demonstrated in 3T3-L1 adipocytes in the presence of insulin or calpain inhibitors to modulate calpain activity. Proteolysis of TUG by CAPN10 was confirmed using transient or stable silencing of CAPN10 in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Calpains proteolyzed the C-terminus of TUG in vitro. In adipocytes, insulin-induced cleavage of TUG was correlated with the activation of calpains. Treatment with calpain inhibitors reduced TUG cleavage, resulting in impaired GLUT4 translocation without altering Akt phosphorylation. Furthermore, CAPN10 but not calpain-1 or calpain-2 colocalized with GLUT4 in the absence of insulin, and their colocalization was reduced after stimulation with insulin. Finally, we demonstrated that CAPN10 knockdown reduced the proteolysis of TUG without altering the phosphorylation of Akt or the expression of the Usp25m protease. Thus, our results provide evidence that the TUG protein is cleaved by CAPN10 to regulate GLUT4 translocation.

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Daniel Patiño-García, Leonor Cruz-Fernandes, Julio Buñay, Renán Orellana, and Ricardo D. Moreno

Reproductive hormone imbalance in infertile women is correlated to high levels of phthalates and alkylphenols, which are among endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Previous studies have shown that they interfere with gene expression by deregulating levels of microRNAs (miRs), small non-coding RNAs targeting mRNAs encoding enzymes in the hormone biosynthesis pathway. However, this effect depends on the target organ, dose and whether or not they are alone or in mixtures. Our goal was to study whether the biosynthesis, and a specific group of miRs targeting mRNAs encoding enzymes in steroid hormone biosynthesis, are deregulated in the ovaries of female mice chronically exposed to a mixture of three phthalates (DEHP+DBP+BBP) and two alkylphenols (NP+OP) at a human environmentally relevant dose. We performed qPCR and western blot assays along with a bioinformatics approach and found that this mixture modified the biogenesis machinery of miRs, inducing an increase in the mRNA levels of Drosha and Dicer1 and DROSHA protein levels. In addition, we found changes in the precursor and mature forms of miR-96-5p, miR-200b-3p, miR-365-3p, miR-378a-3p and miR-503-5p which target steroidogenic pathway enzymes. Finally, using primary granulosa cell culture, we confirmed that miR-200b-3p targets Cyp19a1, transcript encoding CYP19A1, the enzyme that produces estradiol (E2). These results indicate that chronic exposure to phthalates and alkylphenols mixture alters the biogenesis of ovary miRs and increases the expression of miRs implicated in the control of steroidal hormone synthesis in female mice, thus contributing to reproductive pathologies.

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Shuai Shao, Hui Wang, Wei Shao, and Na Liu

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent endocrine disorder and one of the most common causes of infertility in women. PCOS patients have been found with dysregulated microRNAs (miRNAs or miRs), which is indicative of their roles as noninvasive biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets in PCOS. Herein, this study sets out to explore the mechanism of action of miR-199a-5p in PCOS in relation to the janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (JAK/STAT3) pathway via Wilms' tumor 1 (WT1) regulation in a rat model of PCOS. The expression of miR-199a-5p was highly expressed in ovarian cortical tissues and serum of PCOS patients as examined by RT-qPCR. Ovarian granulosa cells (GCs) were harvested from PCOS rat model, followed by subsequent purification. Gain-and loss-of-function experiments of miR-199a-5p were performed to determine its functions in PCOS. Cell viability, cell apoptosis and serum hormone levels were assessed, the results of which showed that down-regulation of miR-199a-5p contributed to the promotion of GC viability and inhibition of apoptosis, while simultaneously inducing the elevation of serum E2 level and reduction of serum AMH, PG, LH and FSH levels in the PCOS rat model. WT1 was identified as a target gene of miR-199a-5p by dual-luciferase reporter gene assay, and inhibition of miR-199a-5p resulted in the activation of WT1-mediated JAK/STAT3 pathway. The activated JAK/STAT3 pathway suppressed the development of PCOS by miR-199a-5p, indicating a mechanism by which miR-199a-5p could potentially prevent PCOS through the WT1-mediated JAK/STAT3 pathway.