The melanocortin-2-receptor (MC2R)/MC2R accessory protein (MRAP) complex is critical to the production of glucocorticoids from the adrenal cortex. Inactivating mutations in either MC2R or MRAP result in the clinical condition familial glucocorticoid deficiency. The localisation of MC2R together with MRAP within the adrenal gland has not previously been reported. Furthermore, MRAP2, a paralogue of MRAP, has been shown in vitro to have a similar function to MRAP, facilitating MC2R trafficking and responsiveness to ACTH. Despite similar MC2R accessory functions, in vivo, patients with inactivating mutations of MRAP fail to be rescued by a functioning MRAP2 gene, suggesting differences in adrenal expression, localisation and/or function between the two MRAPs. In this study on the rat adrenal gland, we demonstrate that while MRAP and MC2R are highly expressed in the zona fasciculata, MRAP2 is expressed throughout the adrenal cortex in low quantities. In the developing adrenal gland, both MRAP and MRAP2 are equally well expressed. The MC2R/MRAP2 complex requires much higher concentrations of ACTH to activate compared with the MC2R/MRAP complex. Interestingly, expression of MC2R and MRAP in the undifferentiated zone would support the notion that ACTH may play an important role in adrenal cell differentiation and maintenance.
Rebecca J Gorrigan, Leonardo Guasti, Peter King, Adrian J Clark, and Li F Chan
Gillian A Gray, Christopher I White, Raphael F P Castellan, Sara J McSweeney, and Karen E Chapman
Corticosteroids influence the development and function of the heart and its response to injury and pressure overload via actions on glucocorticoid (GR) and mineralocorticoid (MR) receptors. Systemic corticosteroid concentration depends largely on the activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, but glucocorticoid can also be regenerated from intrinsically inert metabolites by the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), selectively increasing glucocorticoid levels within cells and tissues. Extensive studies have revealed the roles for glucocorticoid regeneration by 11β-HSD1 in liver, adipose, brain and other tissues, but until recently, there has been little focus on the heart. This article reviews the evidence for glucocorticoid metabolism by 11β-HSD1 in the heart and for a role of 11β-HSD1 activity in determining the myocardial growth and physiological function. We also consider the potential of 11β-HSD1 as a therapeutic target to enhance repair after myocardial infarction and to prevent the development of cardiac remodelling and heart failure.
Irina G Bogdarina, Peter J King, and Adrian J L Clark
Angiotensin II acts through two pharmacologically distinct receptors known as AT1 and AT2. Duplication of the AT1 receptor in rodents into At1a and b subtypes allows tissue-specific expression of the AT1b in adrenal and pituitary tissue. Adrenal expression of this receptor is increased in the offspring of rat mothers exposed to a low-protein diet and this is associated with the undermethylation of its promoter. This phenomenon is blocked by the inhibition of maternal glucocorticoid synthesis by metyrapone. We have mapped the transcriptional start site of the promoter and demonstrated that a 1.2 kbp fragment upsteam of this site is effective in driving luciferase expression in mouse Y1 cells. A combination of bioinformatic analysis, electrophoretic mobility shift analysis (EMSA), and mutagenesis studies demonstrates: i) the presence of a putative TATA box and CAAT box; ii) the presence of three Sp1 response elements, capable of binding SP1; mutation of any pair of these sites effectively disables this promoter; iii) the presence of four potential glucocorticoid response elements which each bind glucocorticoid receptor in EMSA, although only two confer dexamethasone inhibition on the promoter; iv) the presence of two AP1 sites. Mutagenesis of the distal AP1 site greatly diminishes promoter function but this is also associated with the loss of dexamethasone inhibition. These studies will facilitate an understanding of the mechanisms by which fetal programming leads to long term alterations in gene expression and the development of adult disease.
Zhi Zhang, Fang Wang, Bing-jian Wang, Guang Chu, Qunan Cao, Bao-Gui Sun, and Qiu-Yan Dai
Vascular extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling, which is the result of disruption in the balance of ECM synthesis and degradation, induces vessel fibrosis and thereby leads to hypertension. Leptin is known to promote tissue fibrosis, while adiponectin has recently been demonstrated to be anti-fibrogenic in tissue fibrosis. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the leptin-antagonist function of adiponectin and to further elucidate the mechanisms through which adiponectin dampens leptin signalling in vascular smooth muscle cells, thus preventing excess ECM production, in our already established 3D co-culture vessel models. Our 3D co-culture vessel model, which mimics true blood vessels, is composed of vascular endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells and collagen type I. We validated the profibrogenic effects of leptin and analysed matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2), MMP9, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1) and collagen types II/IV secretion in 3D vessel models. The protective/inhibitory effects of adiponectin were re-analysed by inhibiting adiponectin receptor 1 (AdipoR) and AdipoR2 expression in endothelial cells using RNAi technology. In the 3D vessel models, adiponectin blocked the leptin-stimulated secretion of collagen types II/IV and TIMP1 while significantly increasing MMP2/9 activity. In endothelial cells, adiponectin induced phosphorylation of AMPK, thereby suppressing leptin-mediated STAT3 phosphorylation through induction of SOCS3 in smooth muscle cells. Our findings indicate that adiponectin disrupted the leptin-induced vascular ECM remodelling via AdipoR1 and enhanced AMPK signalling in endothelial cells, which, in turn, promoted SOCS3 up-regulation in smooth muscle cells to repress leptin-stimulated phosphorylation of STAT3.
Nathan Appanna, Hylton Gibson, Elena Gangitano, Niall J Dempster, Karen Morris, Sherly George, Anastasia Arvaniti, Laura L Gathercole, Brian G Keevil, Trevor M Penning, Karl-Heinz Storbeck, Jeremy W Tomlinson, and Nikolaos Nikolaou
Steroid hormones, including glucocorticoids and androgens, exert a wide variety of effects in the body across almost all tissues. The steroid A-ring 5β-reductase (AKR1D1) is expressed in human liver and testes, and three splice variants have been identified (AKR1D1-001, AKR1D1-002, AKR1D1-006). Amongst these, AKR1D1-002 is the best described; it modulates steroid hormone availability and catalyses an important step in bile acid biosynthesis. However, specific activity and expression of AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 are unknown.
Expression of AKR1D1 variants were measured in human liver biopsies and hepatoma cell lines by qPCR. Their three-dimensional (3D) structures were predicted using in silico approaches. AKR1D1 variants were over-expressed in HEK293 cells, and successful overexpression confirmed by qPCR and western blotting. Cells were treated with either cortisol, dexamethasone, prednisolone, testosterone or androstenedione, and steroid hormone clearance was measured by mass spectrometry. Glucocorticoid and androgen receptor activation were determined by luciferase reporter assays.
AKR1D1-002 and AKR1D1-001 are expressed in human liver, and only AKR1D1-006 is expressed in human testes. Following over-expression, AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 protein levels were lower than AKR1D1-002, but significantly increased following treatment with the proteasomal inhibitor, MG-132. AKR1D1-002 efficiently metabolised glucocorticoids and androgens and decreased receptor activation. AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 poorly metabolised dexamethasone, but neither protein metabolised cortisol, prednisolone, testosterone or androstenedione.
We have demonstrated the differential expression and role of AKR1D1 variants in steroid hormone clearance and receptor activation in vitro. AKR1D1-002 is the predominant functional protein in steroidogenic and metabolic tissues. In addition, AKR1D1-001 and AKR1D1-006 may have a limited, steroid-specific role in the regulation of dexamethasone action.
Robin Haring, Henri Wallaschofski, Alexander Teumer, Heyo Kroemer, Angela E Taylor, Cedric H L Shackleton, Matthias Nauck, Uwe Völker, Georg Homuth, and Wiebke Arlt
DHEA is the major precursor of human sex steroid synthesis and is inactivated via sulfonation to DHEAS. A previous genome-wide association study related the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2637125, located near the coding region of DHEA sulfotransferase, SULT2A1, to serum DHEAS concentrations. However, the functional relevance of this SNP with regard to DHEA sulfonation is unknown. Using data from 3300 participants of the population-based cohort Study of Health in Pomerania, we identified 43 individuals being homozygote for the minor allele of the SNP rs2637125 (AA) and selected two sex- and age-matched individuals with AG and GG genotype (n=172) respectively. Steroid analysis including measurement of serum DHEA and DHEAS was carried out by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, employing steroid oxime analysis for enhancing the sensitivity of DHEA detection. We applied quantile regression models to compare median hormone levels across SULT2A1 genotypes. Median comparisons by SULT2A1 genotype (AA vs AG and GG genotypes respectively) showed no differences in the considered hormones including DHEAS, DHEA, androstenedione, as well as cortisol and cortisone concentrations. SULT2A1 genotype also had no effect on the DHEA/DHEAS ratio. Sex-stratified analyses, as well as alternative use of the SULT2A1 SNP rs182420, yielded similar negative results. Genetic variants of SULT2A1 do not appear to have an effect on individual DHEA and DHEAS concentrations or the DHEA/DHEAS ratio as a marker of DHEA sulfonation capacity.