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Yawen Xu, Jinhua Lu, Jinxiang Wu, Ruiwei Jiang, Chuanhui Guo, Yedong Tang, Haibin Wang, Shuangbo Kong and Suqing Wang

Decidualization is a critical process for embryo implantation and pregnancy maintenance in humans. The homeobox gene HOXA10 has been widely studied in endometrial receptivity establishment and decidualization. MEIS1, a three-amino-acid loop extension (TALE) family homeobox gene, has been proven to be a co-factor for HOXA10 in mouse uterus. However, the interaction between MEIS1 and HOXA10 in the human decidual cells remains to be elucidated. siRNA and CRISPR-Cas9 were employed to knockdown and knockout MEIS1 in the cultured human endometrial stromal cells, and it was found that MEIS1 deficiency leads to impaired decidualization. The physical interaction between the MEIS1 and HOXA10 in human endometrium stromal cell was confirmed by immunoprecipitation. Moreover, KAT2B and ETA were proved to be downregulated in the absence of MEIS1, and Luciferase reporter and ChIP assays demonstrated that MEIS1-HOXA10 complex binds to the promoters of KAT2B and ETA and regulates their activity. Overexpression of KAT2B and ETA can partially rescue the decidualization defects in MEIS1 knockout HESCs. Taken together, these data suggest that MEIS1 plays an indispensable role in decidualization in human endometrial stromal cells, and MEIS1 interacts with HOXA10 to regulate the downstream genes, such as KAT2B and ETA. These findings will contribute to our understanding about the regulatory network in the process of decidualization in humans. 

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Jingyi Luo, Liu Tingting and Weiping Teng

Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) is a common organ-specific autoimmune disease, which develops in 0.3-1.5/1000 subjects annually. The aims of this study were to determine the lncRNA profile in peripheral blood CD4+ T cells from HT patients and then to characterize the potential function of NONHSAT079547.2. A total of 37 HT patients and 50 sex- and age-matched healthy controls were enrolled for high-throughput sequencing. Another 43 HT patients and 50 sex- and age-matched controls were enrolled for validation via real-time PCR. Flow cytometry and CCK8 assays were used to measure cell apoptosis and growth levels. Western blotting was used for measuring the expression of growth- and apoptosis-associated proteins. IL-17 serum concentration and transcriptional level in CD4+ T cells of participants were detected by ELISA and real-time PCR, respectively. The mechanism of competitive endogenous RNA was determined using real-time PCR, ELISA, RNA immunoprecipitation and dual-luciferase assays in Jurkat cells. A total of 7564 significantly differentially expressed lncRNAs were found, of which 3913 lncRNAs were upregulated and 3651 lncRNAs were downregulated in HT group when compared to control group. NONHSAT079547.2 was significantly upregulated in HT patients and was positively correlated with serum thyroid peroxidase antibody level. Further studies confirmed that NONHSAT079547.2 could promote cell growth and control IL-17 expression and secretion via the NONHSAT079547.2/miR-4716-5p/IL-17 axis.This is the first study to describe the lncRNA profile in CD4+ T cells of HT patients. The studies on the function of NONHSAT079547.2 might elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms and represent potential biomarkers for HT.

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Karin J Bosma, Mohsin Rahim, Kritika Singh, Slavina B Goleva, Martha L Wall, Jing Xia, Kristen E Syring, James K Oeser, Greg Poffenberger, Owen P McGuinness, Anna L Means, Alvin C Powers, Wen-hong Lee, Lea K Davis, Jamey D. Young and Richard M O'Brien

The G6PC1, G6PC2 and G6PC3 genes encode distinct glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit (G6PC) isoforms. In mice, germline deletion of G6pc2 lowers fasting blood glucose (FBG) without affecting fasting plasma insulin (FPI) while, in isolated islets, glucose-6-phosphatase activity and glucose cycling are abolished and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) is enhanced at submaximal but not high glucose. These observations are all consistent with a model in which G6PC2 regulates the sensitivity of GSIS to glucose by opposing the action of glucokinase. G6PC2 is highly expressed in human and mouse islet beta cells, however, various studies have shown trace G6PC2 expression in multiple tissues raising the possibility that G6PC2 also affects FBG through non-islet cell actions. Using real time PCR we show here that expression of G6pc1 and/or G6pc3 are much greater than G6pc2 in peripheral tissues whereas G6pc2 expression is much higher than G6pc3 in both pancreas and islets with G6pc1 expression not detected. In adult mice, beta cell-specific deletion of G6pc2 was sufficient to reduce FBG without changing FPI. In addition, electronic health record-derived phenotype analyses showed no association between G6PC2 expression and phenotypes clearly unrelated to islet function in humans. Finally, we show that germline G6pc2 deletion enhances glycolysis in mouse islets and that glucose cycling can also be detected in human islets. These observations are all consistent with a mechanism by which G6PC2 action in islets is sufficient to regulate the sensitivity of GSIS to glucose and hence influence FBG without affecting FPI.

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Amy R Dwyer, Thu H Truong, Julie H Ostrander and Carol A Lange

Steroid hormone receptors (SRs) are classically defined as ligand-activated transcription factors that function as master regulators of gene programs important for a wide range of processes governing adult physiology, development, and cell or tissue homeostasis. A second function of SRs includes the ability to activate cytoplasmic signaling pathways. Estrogen (ER), androgen (AR), and progesterone (PR) receptors bind directly to membrane-associated signaling molecules including mitogenic protein kinases (i.e. c-Src, AKT), G-proteins, and ion channels to mediate context-dependent actions via rapid activation of downstream signaling pathways. In addition to making direct contact with diverse signaling molecules, SRs are further fully integrated with signaling pathways by virtue of their N-terminal phosphorylation sites that act as regulatory hot-spots capable of sensing the signaling milieu. In particular, ER, AR, PR, and closely related glucocorticoid receptors (GR) share the property of accepting (i.e. sensing) ligand-independent phosphorylation events by proline-directed kinases in the MAPK and CDK families. These signaling inputs act as a “second ligand” that dramatically impacts cell fate. In the face of drugs that reliably target SR ligand-binding domains to block uncontrolled cancer growth, ligand-independent post-translational modifications guide changes in cell fate that confer increased survival, EMT, migration/invasion, stemness properties, and therapy resistance of non-proliferating SR+ cancer cell subpopulations. The focus of this review is on MAPK pathways in the regulation of SR+ cancer cell fate. MAPK-dependent phosphorylation of PR (Ser294) and GR (Ser134) will primarily be discussed in light of the need to target changes in breast cancer cell fate as part of modernized combination therapies.

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He-jun Zhao, Xia Jiang, Li-juan Hu, Lei Yang, Lian-dong Deng, Ya-ping Wang and Zhi-peng Ren

This study aimed to determine whether and how the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonist liraglutide affects the chemoresistance and chemosensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine in vitro and in vivo. The GLP-1R and protein kinase A (PKA) levels were compared between the human pancreatic cancer cell line PANC-1 and the gemcitabine-resistant cell line PANC-GR. The in vitro effects of liraglutide on the cell proliferation and apoptosis as well as the nuclear factor-kappa B NF-κB expression levels of PANC-GR cells were evaluated. In addition, a mouse xenograft model of human pancreatic cancer was established by s.c. injection of PANC-1 cells, and the effects of liraglutide on the chemosensitivity were evaluated in vitro and in vivo. In contrast to PANC-1 cells, PANC-GR cells exhibited lower expression levels of GLP-1R and PKA. Incubation with liraglutide dose dependently inhibited the growth, promoted the apoptosis, and increased the expression of GLP-1R and PKA of PANC-GR cells. Similar effects of liraglutide were observed in another human pancreatic cancer cell line MiaPaCa-2/MiaPaCa-2-GR. Either the GLP-1R antagonist Ex-9, the PKA inhibitor H89, or the NF-κB activator lipopolysaccharide (LPS) could abolish the antiproliferative and proapoptotic activities of liraglutide. Additionally, each of these agents could reverse the expression of NF-κB and ABCG2, which was decreased by liraglutide treatment. Furthermore, liraglutide treatment increased the chemosensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells to gemcitabine, as evidenced by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Thus, GLP-1R agonists are safe and beneficial for patients complicated with pancreatic cancer and diabetes, especially for gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer.

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Feng Wang, Lu Wang, Yifeng Wang, Dai Li, Tianpeng Hu, Manyi Sun and Ping Lei

Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) improves cognitive function, but its mechanism has not been elucidated. The aim of the study was to explore whether IGF-1 exerted its protective effect on cognitive function and anxiety behavior through the activation of PI3K/Akt/CREB pathway in high-fat diet rats. Neuronal cells HT22 were treated with nothing, IGF-1, IGF-1 + LY294002 or IGF-1 + 666-15. Expressions of p-PI3K, p-Akt and p-CREB were measured using Western blot analysis. Thirty C57BL/6J rats were used. After feeding with high-fat diet, normal saline, PEG-IGF-1, PEG-IGF-1 + LY294002 or PEG-IGF-1 + 666-15 was treated. Cognitive function and anxiety behavior were assessed by Morris water maze and open field test. Several inflammation and oxidative stress biomarkers were measured using recognized methods. Expressions of p-PI3K and p-CREB were also measured using Western blot analysis. After IGF-1 treatment in cells, expressions of p-PI3K, p-Akt and p-CREB were increased. Furthermore, LY294002 downregulated the expressions of these three proteins, but 666-15 only inhibited the expression of CREB in the cells. Compared with the control rats, we found abnormalities of cognitive function and anxiety behavior, inhibition of PI3K/Akt/CREB pathway and increase of oxidative stress and inflammation in high-fat diet rats. After PEG-IGF-1 treatment, the changes in high-fat diet rats were reversed. Then, we blocked the pathway and found that these blockers attenuated the protective effects of PEG-IGF-1. In conclusion, IGF-1 improved cognitive function and anxiety behavior in high-fat diet rats and inhibited inflammation and oxidative stress in hippocampus tissue through the activation of PI3K/Akt/CREB pathway.

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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.

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Jéssyca Aparecida Soares Giesen, Wender do Nascimento Rouver, Eduardo Damasceno Costa, Virgínia Soares Lemos and Roger Lyrio dos Santos

Progesterone seems to play a role in cardiovascular physiology since its receptors are expressed on endothelial cells from both sexes of mammals. However, little is known about its role on the coronary circulation. Thus, this study aims to evaluate the effect of acute administration of progesterone on the coronary bed and the endothelial pathways involved in this action in normotensive rats of both sexes. A dose–response curve of progesterone (1–50 μmol/L) in isolated hearts using the Langendorff preparation was performed. Baseline coronary perfusion pressure (CPP) was determined, and the vasoactive effect of progesterone was evaluated before and after infusion with Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), indomethacin, catalase, and Tiron. The analysis of nitric oxide (NO) and superoxide anion (O2 · ) was performed by DAF-2DA and DHE, respectively. Female group showed higher CPP. Nevertheless, progesterone promoted a similar relaxing response in both sexes. The use of L-NAME increased vasodilatory response in both sexes. When indomethacin was used, only the males showed a reduced relaxing response, and in the combined inhibition with L-NAME, indomethacin, and catalase, or with the use of Tiron, only the females presented reduced responses. NO and O2 ·− production has increased in female group, while the male group has increased only NO production. Our results suggest that progesterone is able to modulate vascular reactivity in coronary vascular bed with a vasodilatory response in both sexes. These effects seem to be, at least in part, mediated by different endothelial pathways, involving NO and EDH pathways in females and NO and prostanoids pathways in males.

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Peng Xu, John J Gildea, Chi Zhang, Prasad Konkalmatt, Santiago Cuevas, Dora Bigler Wang, Hanh T Tran, Pedro A Jose and Robin A Felder

Gastrin, secreted by stomach G cells in response to ingested sodium, stimulates the renal cholecystokinin B receptor (CCKBR) to increase renal sodium excretion. It is not known how dietary sodium, independent of food, can increase gastrin secretion in human G cells. However, fenofibrate (FFB), a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPAR-α) agonist, increases gastrin secretion in rodents and several human gastrin-secreting cells, via a gastrin transcriptional promoter. We tested the following hypotheses: (1.) the sodium sensor in G cells plays a critical role in the sodium-mediated increase in gastrin expression/secretion, and (2.) dopamine, via the D1R and PPAR-α, is involved. Intact human stomach antrum and G cells were compared with human gastrin-secreting gastric and ovarian adenocarcinoma cells. When extra- or intracellular sodium was increased in human antrum, human G cells, and adenocarcinoma cells, gastrin mRNA and protein expression/secretion were increased. In human G cells, the PPAR-α agonist FFB increased gastrin protein expression that was blocked by GW6471, a PPAR-α antagonist, and LE300, a D1-like receptor antagonist. LE300 prevented the ability of FFB to increase gastrin protein expression in human G cells via the D1R, because the D5R, the other D1-like receptor, is not expressed in human G cells. Human G cells also express tyrosine hydroxylase and DOPA decarboxylase, enzymes needed to synthesize dopamine. G cells in the stomach may be the sodium sensor that stimulates gastrin secretion, which enables the kidney to eliminate acutely an oral sodium load. Dopamine, via the D1R, by interacting with PPAR-α, is involved in this process.

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Lucia Kořínková, Martina Holubová, Barbora Neprašová, Lucie Hrubá, Veronika Pražienková, Michal Bencze, Martin Haluzík, Jaroslav Kuneš, Lenka Maletínská and Blanka Železná

Lack of leptin production in ob/ob mice results in obesity and prediabetes that could be partly reversed by leptin supplementation. In the hypothalamus, leptin supports the production of prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP), an anorexigenic neuropeptide synthesized and active in the brain. In our recent studies, the palmitoylated PrRP analog palm11-PrRP31 showed a central anorexigenic effect after peripheral administration. This study investigates whether PrRP could compensate for the deficient leptin in ob/ob mice. In two separate experiments, palm11-PrRP31 (5 mg/kg) and leptin (5 or 10 μg/kg) were administered subcutaneously twice daily for 2 or 8 weeks to 8- (younger) or 16-(older) week-old ob/ob mice, respectively, either separately or in combination. The body weight decreasing effect of palm11-PrRP31 in both younger and older ob/ob mice was significantly powered by a subthreshold leptin dose, the combined effect could be then considered synergistic. Leptin and palm11-PrRP31 also synergistically lowered liver weight and blood glucose in younger ob/ob mice. Reduced liver weight was linked to decreased mRNA expression of lipogenic enzymes. In the hypothalamus of older ob/ob mice, two main leptin anorexigenic signaling pathways, namely, Janus kinase, signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 activation and AMP-activated protein kinase de-activation, were induced by leptin, palm11-PrRP31, and their combination. Thus, palm11-PrRP31 could partially compensate for leptin deficiency in ob/ob mice. In conclusion, the results demonstrate a synergistic effect of leptin and our lipidized palm11-PrRP31 analog.