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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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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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Elisa Maseroli, Ilaria Cellai, Sandra Filippi, Paolo Comeglio, Sarah Cipriani, Giulia Rastrelli, Martina Rosi, Flavia Sorbi, Massimiliano Fambrini, Felice Petraglia, Roberta Amoriello, Clara Ballerini, Letizia Lombardelli, Marie-Pierre Piccinni, Erica Sarchielli, Giulia Guarnieri, Annamaria Morelli, Mario Maggi and Linda Vignozzi

Chronic inflammation is involved in the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) and beneficial effects of androgens in the vagina have been described. We investigated the potential involvement of human vagina smooth muscle cells (hvSMCs) in the inflammatory response and the immunomodulatory effect of androgen receptor (AR) agonist dihydrotestosterone (DHT). HvSMCs isolated from menopausal women were evaluated for sex steroids receptors and toll-like receptors mRNA expression, and left untreated or treated in vitro with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or IFNγ, in the presence or absence of DHT. We evaluated mRNA expression (by RT-PCR) and secretion in cell culture supernatants (by a bead-based immunoassay) of pro-inflammatory markers. Nuclear translocation of NF-κB (by immunofluorescence) and cell surface HLA-DR expression (by flow cytometry) were also evaluated. Similar experiments were repeated in rat vSMCs (rvSMCs). In hvSMCs and rvSMCs, AR was highly expressed. DHT pre-treatment inhibited LPS induced-mRNA expression of several pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. COX2, IL6, IL12A and IFNγ), effect significantly blunted by AR antagonist bicalutamide. DHT significantly counteracted the secretion of IL1RA, IL2, IL5, IL15, FGF, VEGF and TNFα. LPS-induced NF-κB nuclear translocation was significantly inhibited by DHT, an effect counteracted by bicalutamide. DHT pre-treatment significantly decreased IFNγ-induced expression of HLA-DR, mRNA expression of iNOS, COX2 and MCP1, and secretion of IL1, IL2, IL5, IL6, MCP1 and GCSF. Similar effects were observed in rvSMCs. The activation of AR suppresses the inflammatory response in hvSMCs, reducing their potential to be involved in the initiation and maintaining of inflammation, thus representing a therapeutic strategy in conditions like the GSM.

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Maya Elena Lee, Aisha Aderayo Tepede, Adel Mandl, Lee Scott Weinstein, Jaydira del Rivero, Sunita K Agarwal and Jenny E Blau

Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP NETs) comprise a heterogenous and diverse group of neoplasms arising from a common neuroendocrine cell origin. The majority of these tumors occur sporadically while ~20% manifest within the context of hereditary syndromes. Germline MEN1 mutations cause a syndrome with an increased susceptibility to multifocal primary GEP NETs. In addition, somatic MEN1 mutations also occur in these sporadic lesions. MEN1 alterations are the most frequent somatic mutation found in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. In this review, we explore the implication of the loss of the MEN1-encoded protein menin as a key pathogenic driver in subsets of GEP NETs with downstream consequences including upregulation of the oncogenic receptor c-MET (hepatocyte growth factor receptor). Furthermore, the review will summarize the data related to the clinical presentation, therapeutic standards, and outcomes of these tumors in both sporadic and germline MEN1 mutation-associated contexts. Finally, we present the data on c-MET expression in GEP NETs, clinical trials using c-MET inhibitors and provide an overview of the molecular mechanisms by which c-MET inhibition in these lesions represents a potential precision-medicine targeted approach.

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Leonard Y M Cheung and Karine Rizzoti

In the last 15 years, single-cell technologies have become robust and indispensable tools to investigate cell heterogeneity. Beyond transcriptomic, genomic and epigenome analyses, technologies are constantly evolving, in particular toward multi-omics, where analyses of different source materials from a single cell are combined, and spatial transcriptomics, where resolution of cellular heterogeneity can be detected in situ. While some of these techniques are still being optimized, single-cell RNAseq has commonly been used because the examination of transcriptomes allows characterization of cell identity and, therefore, unravel previously uncharacterized diversity within cell populations. Most endocrine organs have now been investigated using this technique, and this has given new insights into organ embryonic development, characterization of rare cell types, and disease mechanisms. Here, we highlight recent studies, particularly on the hypothalamus and pituitary, and examine recent findings on the pancreas and reproductive organs where many single-cell experiments have been performed.

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Yujia Pan, Weikang Yun, Bingshuai Shi, Rongjun Cui, Chi Liu, Zhong Ding, Jialin Fan, Wenqian Jiang, Jiebing Tang, Tianhu Zheng, Xiaoguang Yu and Ying Liu

miR-146b-5p is overexpressed in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) and is thought to be a related diagnostic marker. Previous studies have indicated the effects of iodine on oncogenic activation. However, the effect of iodine on the proliferation of PTC cells and the associated underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We found that miR-146b-5p was downregulated and smad4 was upregulated in patients exposed to high iodine concentration by in situ hybridisation (ISH) and immunohistochemical (IHC). NaI (10−3 M) treatment downregulated miR-146b-5p and upregulated Smad4 in PTC cell lines. Luciferase assay was used to confirm that Smad4 is a target of miR-146b-5p. Furthermore, MTT assay and cell cycle analysis indicated that 10−3 M NaI suppressed cell proliferation and caused G0/G1 phase arrest. Real-time PCR and Western blotting demonstrated that 10−3 M NaI increased p21, p27, and p57 levels and reduced cyclin D1 levels in PTC cells. Our findings suggest that 10−3 M NaI increases Smad4 levels through repression of miR-146b-5p expression, curbing the proliferation in PTC.

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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 organism 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 PiT1/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 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 Wortmannin (100 nM) and 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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Kai Huang, Gezi Chen, Wenqian Fan and Linli Hu

A receptive endometrium is required in a successful embryo implantation. The ubiquitination-induced β-catenin degradation is related to the implantation failure.This study aimed to elucidate whether miR-23a-3p regulates endometrial receptivity via the modulation of β-catenin ubiquitination.The expressions of miR-23a-3p and CUL3 were detected in endometrial epithelial cells (EECs) isolated from pregnant mice and in hormone-induced EEC-like Ishikawa cells. The ubiquitination experiment was performed to explore the effect of CUL3 and miR-23a-3p on β-catenin ubiquitination level. The trophoblast attachment was detected by co-culturing JAR (choriocarcinoma cell line) spheroids with Ishikawa cell monolayers. miR-23a-3p was upregulated while CUL3 was downregulated in EECs at day 4 after pregnancy compared with day 1, as well as in hormone-induced Ishikawa cells. miR-23a-3p positively regulated the protein level of β-catenin without affecting the mRNA level. The ubiquitination and degradation of β-catenin was suppressed by miR-23a-3p, while it was promoted by CUL3. Immunoprecipitation confirmed the binding between CUL3 and β-catenin. Luciferase reporter assay confirmed the target relationship between miR-23a-3p and CUL3. The ubiquitination of β-catenin was modulated by the miR-23a-3p/CUL3 pathway. The overexpression of miR-23a-3p promoted JAR spheroid attachments in Ishikawa cells. miR-23a-3p is beneficial for the endometrial receptivity and embryo implantation, whose mechanism is partly through the modulation of CUL3/β-catenin.

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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. MicroRNAs are important regulators of the differentiation, development, and function of brown and beige adipocytes. Here, we found that the cold-inducible microRNA (miR) 17-92 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 combats metabolic syndrome.