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Open access

Karine Rizzoti

Significant progress has been made recently in unravelling the embryonic events leading to pituitary morphogenesis, both in vivo and in vitro. This includes dissection of the molecular mechanisms controlling patterning of the ventral diencephalon that regulate formation of the pituitary anlagen or Rathke's pouch. There is also a better characterisation of processes that underlie maintenance of pituitary progenitors, specification of endocrine lineages and the three-dimensional organisation of newly differentiated endocrine cells. Furthermore, a population of adult pituitary stem cells (SCs), originating from embryonic progenitors, have been described and shown to have not only regenerative potential, but also the capacity to induce tumour formation. Finally, the successful recapitulation in vitro of embryonic events leading to generation of endocrine cells from embryonic SCs, and their subsequent transplantation, represents exciting advances towards the use of regenerative medicine to treat endocrine deficits. In this review, an up-to-date description of pituitary morphogenesis will be provided and discussed with particular reference to pituitary SC studies.

Open access

Silvia Ottaviani, Greg N Brooke, Ciara O'Hanlon-Brown, Jonathan Waxman, Simak Ali and Laki Buluwela

The development and growth of prostate cancer is dependent on androgens; thus, the identification of androgen-regulated genes in prostate cancer cells is vital for defining the mechanisms of prostate cancer development and progression and developing new markers and targets for prostate cancer treatment. Glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) is a S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methyltransferase that has been recently identified as a novel androgen-regulated gene in prostate cancer cells. Although the importance of this protein in prostate cancer progression has been extensively addressed, little is known about the mechanism of its androgen regulation. Here, we show that GNMT expression is stimulated by androgen in androgen receptor (AR) expressing cells and that the stimulation occurs at the mRNA and protein levels. We have identified an androgen response element within the first exon of the GNMT gene and demonstrated that AR binds to this element in vitro and in vivo. Together, these studies identify GNMT as a direct transcriptional target of the AR. As this is an evolutionarily conserved regulatory element, this highlights androgen regulation as an important feature of GNMT regulation.

Open access

S Das, I Sepahi, A Duthie, S Clark and J C Crockett

The interaction of receptor activator of NFκB (RANK), a member of the tumour necrosis factor receptor superfamily, with RANK ligand is crucial for the formation, function and survival of osteoclasts. The role of the cytoplasmic oligomerisation domain (pre-ligand assembly domain; PLAD or ‘IVVY’ motif) in the ligand-dependent activation of downstream NFκB signalling has not been studied previously. The discovery of truncating mutations of TNFRSF11A (W434X and G280X that lack the PLAD) as the cause of rare cases of osteoclast-poor osteopetrosis offered the opportunity for functional study of this region. Recapitulating the W434X mutation by transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-mediated targeted disruption of Tnfrsf11a within the region homologous to W434X in the mouse macrophage-like cell line RAW264.7 impaired formation of osteoclast-like cells. Using overexpression studies, we demonstrated that, in contrast to WT-RANK, the absence of the PLAD in G280X-RANK and W434X-RANK prevented ligand-independent but not ligand-dependent oligomerisation. Cells expressing W434X-RANK, in which only two of the three TRAF6-binding motifs are present, continued to exhibit ligand-dependent NFκB signalling. Hence, the absence of the PLAD did not prevent ligand-induced trimerisation and subsequent NFκB activation of RANK, demonstrating that therapeutic targeting of the PLAD in the prevention of osteoporosis may not be as effective as proposed previously.

Open access

Yan Zheng and Kevin D Houston

G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER1) is a seven-transmembrane receptor that mediates rapid cell signaling events stimulated by estrogens. While the role that GPER1 has in the modulation of E2-responsive tissues and cancers is well documented, the molecular mechanisms that regulate GPER1 expression are currently not well defined. The recently identified GPER1-dependent mechanism of tamoxifen action in breast cancer cells underscores the importance of identifying mechanisms that regulate GPER1 expression in this cell type. We hypothesized that GPER1 expression in breast cancer cells is sensitive to [D-glucose] and provide data showing increased GPER1 expression when cells were cultured in low [D-glucose]. To determine if the observed accumulation of GPER1 was AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-dependent, small molecule stimulation or inhibition of AMPK was performed. AMPK inhibition decreased GPER1 accumulation in cells grown in low [D-glucose] while the AMPK-activating compound AICAR increased GPER1 accumulation in cells grown in high [D-glucose] media. Additionally, transfection of cells with a plasmid expressing constitutively active AMPK resulted in increased GPER1 accumulation. To determine if [D-glucose]-dependent GPER1 accumulation altered breast cancer cell response to tamoxifen, cells grown in the presence of decreasing [D-glucose] were co-treated with tamoxifen and IGFBP-1 transcription was measured. The results from these experiments reveal that D-glucose deprivation increased GPER1-mediated and tamoxifen-induced IGFBP-1 transcription suggesting that [D-glucose] may increase breast cancer cell sensitivity to tamoxifen. Taken together, these results identify a previously unknown mechanism that regulates GPER1 expression that modifies one aspect tamoxifen action in breast cancer cells.

Open access

Dellel Rezgui, Christopher Williams, Sharon A Savage, Stuart N Prince, Oliver J Zaccheo, E Yvonne Jones, Matthew P Crump and A Bassim Hassan

The mannose 6-phosphate/IGF 2 receptor (IGF2R) is comprised of 15 extra-cellular domains that bind IGF2 and mannose 6-phosphate ligands. IGF2R transports ligands from the Golgi to the pre-lysosomal compartment and thereafter to and from the cell surface. IGF2R regulates growth, placental development, tumour suppression and signalling. The ligand IGF2 is implicated in the growth phenotype, where IGF2R normally limits bioavailability, such that loss and gain of IGF2R results in increased and reduced growth respectively. The IGF2R exon 34 (5002A>G) polymorphism (rs629849) of the IGF2 specific binding domain has been correlated with impaired childhood growth (A/A homozygotes). We evaluated the function of the Gly1619Arg non-synonymous amino acid modification of domain 11. NMR and X-ray crystallography structures located 1619 remote from the ligand binding region of domain 11. Arg1619 was located close to the fibronectin type II (FnII) domain of domain 13, previously implicated as a modifier of IGF2 ligand binding through indirect interaction with the AB loop of the binding cleft. However, comparison of binding kinetics of IGF2R, Gly1619 and Arg1619 to either IGF2 or mannose 6-phosphate revealed no differences in ‘on’ and ‘off’ rates. Quantitative PCR, 35S pulse chase and flow cytometry failed to demonstrate altered gene expression, protein half-life and cell membrane distribution, suggesting the polymorphism had no direct effect on receptor function. Intronic polymorphisms were identified which may be in linkage disequilibrium with rs629849 in certain populations. Other potential IGF2R polymorphisms may account for the correlation with childhood growth, warranting further functional evaluation.

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

Ross S Thomas, Naveed Sarwar, Fladia Phoenix, R Charles Coombes and Simak Ali

Phosphorylation of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) at specific residues in transcription activation function 1 (AF-1) can stimulate ERα activity in a ligand-independent manner. This has led to the proposal that AF-1 phosphorylation and the consequent increase in ERα activity could contribute to resistance to endocrine therapies in breast cancer patients. Previous studies have shown that serine 118 (S118) in AF-1 is phosphorylated by extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (Erk1/2) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in a ligand-independent manner. Here, we show that serines 104 (S104) and 106 (S106) are also phosphorylated by MAPK in vitro and upon stimulation of MAPK activity in vivo. Phosphorylation of S104 and S106 can be inhibited by the MAP-erk kinase (MEK)1/2 inhibitor U0126 and by expression of kinase-dead Raf1. Further, we show that, although S118 is important for the stimulation of ERα activity by the selective ER modulator 4-hydroxytamoxifen (OHT), S104 and S106 are also required for the agonist activity of OHT. Acidic amino acid substitution of S104 or S106 stimulates ERα activity to a greater extent than the equivalent substitution at S118, suggesting that phosphorylation at S104 and S106 is important for ERα activity. Collectively, these data indicate that the MAPK stimulation of ERα activity involves the phosphorylation not only of S118 but also of S104 and S106, and that MAPK-mediated hyperphosphorylation of ERα at these sites may contribute to resistance to tamoxifen in breast cancer.

Open access

Miguel Beato, Roni H G Wright and François Le Dily

Gene regulation by steroid hormones has been at the forefront in elucidating the intricacies of transcriptional regulation in eukaryotes ever since the discovery by Karlson and Clever that the insect steroid hormone ecdysone induces chromatin puffs in giant chromosomes. After the successful cloning of the hormone receptors toward the end of the past century, detailed mechanistic insight emerged in some model systems, in particular the MMTV provirus. With the arrival of next generation DNA sequencing and the omics techniques, we have gained even further insight into the global cellular response to steroid hormones that in the past decades also extended to the function of the 3D genome topology. More recently, advances in high resolution microcopy, single cell genomics and the new vision of liquid-liquid phase transitions in the context of nuclear space bring us closer than ever to unravelling the logic of gene regulation and its complex integration of global cellular signaling networks. Using the function of progesterone and its cellular receptor in breast cancer cells, we will briefly summarize the history and describe the present extent of our knowledge on how regulatory proteins deal with the chromatin structure to gain access to DNA sequences and interpret the genomic instructions that enable cells to respond selectively to external signals by reshaping their gene regulatory networks.

Open access

Irit Hochberg, Innocence Harvey, Quynh T Tran, Erin J Stephenson, Ariel L Barkan, Alan R Saltiel, William F Chandler and Dave Bridges

Glucocorticoids have major effects on adipose tissue metabolism. To study tissue mRNA expression changes induced by chronic elevated endogenous glucocorticoids, we performed RNA sequencing on the subcutaneous adipose tissue from patients with Cushing's disease (n=5) compared to patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (n=11). We found a higher expression of transcripts involved in several metabolic pathways, including lipogenesis, proteolysis and glucose oxidation as well as a decreased expression of transcripts involved in inflammation and protein synthesis. To further study this in a model system, we subjected mice to dexamethasone treatment for 12 weeks and analyzed their inguinal (subcutaneous) fat pads, which led to similar findings. Additionally, mice treated with dexamethasone showed drastic decreases in lean body mass as well as increased fat mass, further supporting the human transcriptomic data. These data provide insight to transcriptional changes that may be responsible for the comorbidities associated with chronic elevations of glucocorticoids.