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Free access

Magdalene O Wilson, Kathleen T Scougall, Jarupa Ratanamart, Elizabeth A McIntyre and James A M Shaw

Long-term secretion of insulin by host muscle following transduction with an insulin gene construct offers the potential of gene therapy for diabetes without immunosuppression. Clinical implementation will be dependent on proof of principle in human tissue and a system for safely regulating basal insulin levels. Liposomal co-transfection with a tetracycline-responsive wild type human preproinsulin (pTRE-hppI1) or mutant construct (pTRE-hppI4), in which PC2 and PC3 cleavage sites were altered to form tetrabasic consensus sites for furin, together with pTet-off (coding for a transactivating protein) was evaluated in the C2C12 mouse myoblast cell line and human myoblasts following establishment in primary culture. In the absence of tetracycline, (pro)insulin secretion in C2C12 and human myoblasts transfected with tetracycline-responsive hppI1 and hppI4 constructs was comparable to that following transfection with equivalent constructs under the control of a constitutively active cytomegaloviral promoter. Percentage processing to mature insulin was <5% in C2C12 and human myoblasts transfected with pTet-off/pTRE-hppI1 but >90% in C2C12 cells and 45–60% in human myoblasts on transfection with pTet-off/pTRE-hppI4. Incremental dose-responsive suppression of proinsulin secretion was demonstrated in C2C12 and human myoblasts expressing pTet-off/pTRE-hppI1 following incubation with tetracycline (0–100 μg/ml) for up to 72 h. Reversibility was confirmed following tetracycline withdrawal. Dose-responsive tetracycline-inducible repression of mature insulin secretion was confirmed in C2C12 cells following transfection with pTet-off/pTRE-hppI4. Regulation of human proinsulin biosynthesis and secretion has been attained in vivo following plasmid-mediated gene transfer to rat skeletal muscle and oral tetracycline administration. In conclusion, processing to mature insulin has been confirmed following plasmid-mediated gene transfer to human muscle in addition to in vitro- and in vivo-regulated human proinsulin secretion employing the safe and well-tolerated antibiotic, tetracycline.

Free access

Pulak R Manna, Syam P Chandrala, Youngah Jo and Douglas M Stocco

In the regulation of steroid biosynthesis, a process mediated by the steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein, both cAMP-dependent and -independent pathways are involved. While the cAMP-dependent regulatory events represent, by far, the most robust increase in steroid synthesis and are well established, the knowledge regarding cAMP-independent mechanisms is lacking. The present investigation was designed to elucidate the potential involvement of the latter in regulating StAR expression and steroidogenesis in mouse Leydig tumor cells (mLTC-1 cells). Treatment of mLTC-1 cells with a number of factors including insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor (TGF)α, interleukin-1 (IL-1), and colony-stimulating factor-1, increased the levels of StAR mRNA, StAR protein, and progesterone to varying degrees and utilized signaling pathways that are not associated with elevations in intracellular cAMP levels. Importantly, phosphorylation of StAR in response to these stimuli was undetectable, which is in marked contrast to observations with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), indicating factors that do not alter intracellular cAMP, regulate the steroid biosynthesis in a StAR phosphorylation-independent manner. In addition, the roles for factors involved in cross-talk between the protein kinase pathways, PKA and PKC, were demonstrated. Further characterization of signaling by one such cAMP-independent factor, TGFα, demonstrated that the mechanism, whereby it increased StAR expression and steroid synthesis, was dependent on de novo protein synthesis and mediated via activation of the EGF receptor. TGFα was also able to augment hCG-stimulated cAMP synthesis, StAR protein and StAR phosphorylation, and influence hCG binding and LH receptor mRNA expression. Furthermore, TGFα increased phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2) and cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB), processes inhibited by the mitogen-activated protein kinase/ERK inhibitor U0126 and by expression of non-phosphorylatable CREB-M1 respectively. Inhibition of ERK activity enhanced TGFα-mediated StAR protein expression (but not its phosphorylation) and decreased progesterone synthesis, events correlated with the expression of dosage-sensitive sex reversal, adrenal hypoplasia congenita, critical region on the X chromosome, gene 1 (DAX-1) and scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SR-B1). Collectively, these findings demonstrate that, in mouse Leydig cells, cAMP-independent signaling events regulate steroidogenesis in a StAR phosphorylation-independent manner.

Free access

Viswanath Ragupathy, Wang Xue, Ji Tan, Krishnakumar Devadas, Yamei Gao and Indira Hewlett

In human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected women, oral or injectable progesterone containing contraceptive pills may enhance HIV-1 acquisition in vivo, and the mechanism by which this occurs is not fully understood. In developing countries, Herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2) co-infection has been shown to be a risk for increase of HIV-1 acquisition and, if co-infected women use progesterone pills, infections may increase several fold. In this study, we used an in vitro cell culture system to study the effects of progesterone on HIV-1 replication and to explore the molecular mechanism of progesterone effects on infected cells. In our in vitro model, CEMss cells (lymphoblastoid cell line) were infected with either HIV-1 alone or co-infected with HSV-2. HIV-1 viral load was measured with and without sex hormone treatment. Progesterone-treated cells showed an increase in HIV-1 viral load (1411.2 pg/mL) compared with cells without progesterone treatment (993.1 pg/mL). Increased cell death was noted with HSV-2 co-infection and in progesterone-treated cells. Similar observations were noted in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) cells derived from three female donors. Progesterone-treated cells also showed reduced antiviral efficacy. Inflammatory cytokines and associations with biomarkers of disease progression were explored. Progesterone upregulated inflammatory cytokines and chemokines conversely and downregulated anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 expression. Nuclear protein analysis by electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed the association of progesterone with progesterone response element (PRE), which may lead to downregulation of Bcl-2. These data indicate that progesterone treatment enhances HIV-1 replication in infected cells and co-infection with HSV-2 may further fuel this process.

Free access

Tingting Zhang, Jinhan He, Chong Xu, Luxia Zu, Hongfeng Jiang, Shenshen Pu, Xiaohui Guo and Guoheng Xu

The mobilization of free fatty acids (FFA) from adipose tissue to the bloodstream primarily depends on triacylglycerol lipolysis in adipocytes. Catecholamines are major hormones that govern lipolysis through elevating cellular cAMP production and activating protein kinase, cAMP dependent, catalytic, alpha (PKA) and mitogen-activated protein kinase 1/2 (MAPK1/3). Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with elevated levels of systemic FFA, which restricts glucose utilization and induces insulin resistance. The biguanide metformin exerts its antihyperglycemic effect by enhancing insulin sensitivity, which is associated with decreased levels of circulating FFA. In this study, we examined the characteristics and basis of the inhibitory effect of metformin on adrenergic-stimulated lipolysis in primary rat adipocytes. We measured the release of FFA and glycerol as an index of lipolysis and examined the major signalings of the lipolytic cascade in primary rat adipocytes. Metformin at 250–500 μM efficiently attenuated FFA and glycerol release from the adipocytes stimulated with 1 μM isoproterenol. To elucidate the basis for this antilipolytic action, we showed that metformin decreased cellular cAMP production, reduced the activities of PKA and MAPK1/3, and attenuated the phosphorylation of perilipin during isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis. Further, metformin suppressed isoproterenol-promoted lipase activity but did not affect the translocation of lipase, hormone-sensitive from the cytosol to lipid droplets in adipocytes. This study provides evidence that metformin acts on adipocytes to suppress the lipolysis response to catecholamine. This antilipolytic effect could be a cellular basis for metformin decreasing plasma FFA levels and improving insulin sensitivity.

Free access

JQ Jiang, DS Wang, B Senthilkumaran, T Kobayashi, HK Kobayashi, A Yamaguchi, W Ge, G Young and Y Nagahama

The Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11beta-HSD2) cDNAs were isolated from their respective testes cDNA libraries. The cDNAs predict two peptides of 436 and 406 amino acid residues that share about 42% homology with mammalian 11beta-HSD type 2 proteins. Analysis of the tissue distribution pattern by RT-PCR reveals that 11beta-HSD2 is expressed in a wide variety of tissues in tilapia, with higher expression in kidney and gill of both sexes, and with the highest expression in testis. 11beta-Dehydrogenase activity of the eel 11beta-HSD2 was confirmed by demonstrating the conversion of cortisol to cortisone by the recombinant protein after transient expression of this cDNA clone in COS-1 cells. Bands of approximately 2.7 and approximately 3.8 Kb were detected in Northern blot of eel and tilapia testes respectively, which is consistent with the cloned cDNA sizes of the two species. Northern blot analysis also revealed that the expression of the eel testis 11beta-HSD2 gene could be induced by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection, implying a role of 11beta-HSD2 in hCG-induced 11-ketotestosterone production and spermatogenesis in the Japanese eel.

Free access

Ying Xing, Jingbo Lai, Xiangyang Liu, Nana Zhang, Jie Ming, Hengxin Liu and Xi Zhang

Diabetic foot ulceration (DFU) represents a common vascular complication of diabetes mellitus (DM) with high morbidity and disability resulting from amputation. Netrin-1 level was decreased in type 2 DM patients and has been identified as a protective regulator against diabetes-triggered myocardial infarction and nephropathy. Unfortunately, its role and molecular mechanism in DFU remain poorly elucidated. Here, netrin-1 levels were reduced in DM and DFU patients relative to healthy controls, with netrin-1 levels being the lowest in DFU patients. Moreover, exposure to high glucose (HG) also suppressed netrin-1 expression in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Elevated netrin-1 expression by infection with Ad-netrin-1 adenovirus vector protected against HUVEC injury in response to HG by ameliorating the inhibitory effects on cell viability, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, cell apoptotic rate and caspase-3 activity. Importantly, HG-impaired angiogenesis was improved after netrin-1 overexpression by elevating cell migration, capillary-like tube formation and VEGF production. Mechanism assay substantiated that netrin-1 elevation increased the phosphorylation levels of AKT and eNOS, and NO production, which was notably suppressed by HG, indicating that netrin-1 overexpression restored HG-triggered impairment of the PI3K/AKT-eNOS pathway. More intriguingly, preconditioning with LY294002 (PI3K/AKT antagonist) or N G-monomethyl-l-arginine (eNOS inhibitor) antagonized netrin-1-induced activation of the PI3K/AKT-eNOS pathway. Concomitantly, treatment with these antagonists also attenuated the protective role of netrin-1 in endothelial dysfunction upon HG stimulation. These results suggest that elevation of netrin-1 may restore HG-triggered impairment of HUVEC and angiogenesis by activating the PI3K/AKT-eNOS pathway, indicating a potential agent for wound healing in DFU patients.

Free access

Ahter D Sanlioglu, Bahri Karacay, Mustafa Kemal Balci, Thomas S Griffith and Salih Sanlioglu

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is characterized by chronic insulin resistance and a progressive decline in beta-cell function. Although rigorous glucose control can reduce morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes, achieving optimal long-term glycemic control remains to be accomplished in many diabetic patients. As beta-cell mass and function inevitably decline in T2D, exogenous insulin administration is almost unavoidable as a final outcome despite the use of oral antihyperglycemic agents in many diabetic patients. Pancreatic islet cell death, but not the defect in new islet formation or beta-cell replication, has been blamed for the decrease in beta-cell mass observed in T2D patients. Thus, therapeutic approaches designed to protect islet cells from apoptosis could significantly improve the management of T2D, because of its potential to reverse diabetes not just ameliorate glycemia. Therefore, an ideal beta-cell-preserving agent is expected to protect beta cells from apoptosis and stimulate postprandial insulin secretion along with increasing beta-cell replication and/or islet neogenesis. One such potential agent, the islet endocrine neuropeptide vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) strongly stimulates postprandial insulin secretion. Because of its broad spectrum of biological functions such as acting as a potent anti-inflammatory factor through suppression of Th1 immune response, and induction of immune tolerance via regulatory T cells, VIP has emerged as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of many autoimmune diseases including diabetes.

Restricted access

Huixia Li, Zhuanmin Zhang, Dongxu Feng, Lin Xu, Fang Li, Jiali Liu, Xinxin Jin, Zhuang Qian, Xiaomin Kang and Hongzhi Sun

Progranulin (PGRN), a multifunctional protein implicated in embryonic development and immune response, was recently introduced as a novel marker of chronic inflammation related with insulin resistance in obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, the potential mechanisms of PGRN on insulin signaling pathways are poorly understood. In this study, PGRN mediated the chemotaxis of RAW264.7, impaired insulin action and stimulated production of inflammatory factors in adipocytes, which was accompanied by increased c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation and serine phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate-1. PGRN knockdown partially led to an increase in insulin action as well as a decrease in the JNK activation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation in cells exposed to tumor-necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Meanwhile, PGRN treatment resulted in an elevation of transcription factor nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) nuclear translocation and acetylation, and increased Il-1b, Il6, Tnf-a expression, whereas NF-κB inhibition reversed PGRN-induced insulin action impairment and inflammatory gene expression. Finally, we showed that sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) expression was downregulated by PGRN treatment, whereas SIRT1 overexpression improved PGRN-induced insulin resistance, NF-κB activation, and inflammatory gene expression. Our results suggest that PGRN regulates adipose tissue inflammation possibly by controlling the gain of proinflammatory transcription in a SIRT1-NF-κB dependent manner in response to inducers such as fatty acids and endoplasmic reticulum stress.

Restricted access

D. G. Armstrong and C. O. Hogg


The biological activity of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is mediated by a transmembrane glycoprotein (type-1 IGF receptor or IGF-I receptor) that shows considerable sequence homology with the insulin receptor. In order to detect the expression of this gene in chicken liver tissue, a plasmid was constructed containing a fragment of chicken IGF-I receptor cDNA. The cDNA fragment corresponded to nucleotides 326–599 of the human IGF-I receptor cDNA and showed 86.1 and 69.3% homology at the nucleotide level and 96.7 and 80.2% homology at the amino acid level with the human IGF-I receptor and insulin receptor respectively. The construct was used to generate an antisense RNA probe for the detection of IGF-I receptor mRNA transcripts in 1- and 4-week-old chick liver tissue.

IGF-I receptor gene expression was initially detected by the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction using synthetic chicken IGF-I receptor oligonucleotides. Amplified fragments of the correct size were detected in both RNA samples. Northern blots were also used to detect IGF-I receptor mRNA transcripts in the liver RNA samples. The results indicated that the amount of receptor mRNA decreased significantly between 1 and 4 weeks after hatch. In contrast, chicken β-actin gene expression remained constant over this period. A major IGF-I receptor RNA transcript (11 kb) was observed in blots from 1-week-old livers, less abundant transcripts were also observed ranging in size from 8 to 9 kb. No bands were detected in blots from 4-week-old livers.

The results indicate that the steady-state level of chicken liver IGF-I receptor mRNA decreased significantly 1–4 weeks after hatch. It is not known whether this difference was due to a decrease in gene expression and/or an increase in the rate of IGF-I receptor mRNA degradation.

Free access

MI McCarthy

Almost all major causes of ill-health and premature death in human societies worldwide - including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many infectious diseases - are, at least in part, genetically determined. Typically, risk of succumbing to one of these illnesses is thought to depend on both the individual repertoire of variation within a number of key susceptibility genes and the history of exposure to relevant environmental factors. For many of these conditions, the molecular basis of disease pathogenesis remains obscure. This represents a major obstacle to development of improved, rational strategies for disease treatment, prevention and eradication. It is easy therefore to appreciate the importance attached to efforts to deliver more comprehensive understanding of the molecular basis of disease pathogenesis. Nor is it hard to understand that identification of major susceptibility genes should highlight those components of molecular machinery that are critical for the preservation of normal health. The benefits promised are great, but progress to gene identification in multifactorial traits has been rather disappointing to date. Why is this? This review aims to answer this question by describing current and future approaches to gene discovery in multifactorial traits. The examples quoted will mostly relate to type 2 diabetes, but the issues and approaches are generic, and apply equally to other multifactorial traits in the endocrine and metabolic arena - type 1 diabetes; obesity; hyperlipidaemia; autoimmune thyroid disease; polycystic ovarian syndrome - and beyond.