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Free access

Rebecca H Ritchie, Eser J Zerenturk, Darnel Prakoso and Anna C Calkin

Diabetic cardiomyopathy was first defined over four decades ago. It was observed in small post-mortem studies of diabetic patients who suffered from concomitant heart failure despite the absence of hypertension, coronary disease or other likely causal factors, as well as in large population studies such as the Framingham Heart Study. Subsequent studies continue to demonstrate an increased incidence of heart failure in the setting of diabetes independent of established risk factors, suggesting direct effects of diabetes on the myocardium. Impairments in glucose metabolism and handling receive the majority of the blame. The role of concomitant impairments in lipid handling, particularly at the level of the myocardium, has however received much less attention. Cardiac lipid accumulation commonly occurs in the setting of type 2 diabetes and has been suggested to play a direct causal role in the development of cardiomyopathy and heart failure in a process termed as cardiac lipotoxicity. Excess lipids promote numerous pathological processes linked to the development of cardiomyopathy, including mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation. Although somewhat underappreciated, cardiac lipotoxicity also occurs in the setting of type 1 diabetes. This phenomenon is, however, largely understudied in comparison to hyperglycaemia, which has been widely studied in this context. The current review addresses the changes in lipid metabolism occurring in the type 1 diabetic heart and how they are implicated in disease progression. Furthermore, the pathological pathways linked to cardiac lipotoxicity are discussed. Finally, we consider novel approaches for modulating lipid metabolism as a cardioprotective mechanism against cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Free access

Pascal Nurwakagari, Andreas Breit, Claudia Hess, Hagar Salman-Livny, David Ben-Menahem and Thomas Gudermann

Glycoprotein hormone receptors such as the lutropin/chorionic gonadotropin receptor (LHR) are characterized by a large N-terminal ectodomain (ECD), which is responsible for hormone–receptor interactions. For the closely related TSH receptor (TSHR), it has been proposed that the ECD also serves as a tethered inverse agonist. However, the exact role of the LHR–ECD for receptor activation remains elusive. Functional analysis of N-terminally truncated LHR mutants expressed in COS-7 cells revealed that the LHR–ECD does not act as an inverse agonist but facilitates active LHR conformations. This notion is supported by two observations: first, removal of the ECD tended to decrease basal LHR activity and secondly, mutationally induced constitutive receptor activity was diminished for most activating mutations in LHR lacking the ECD. In addition, swapping of the LHR–ECD for the ECD of the closely related TSHR was not sufficient to restore constitutive receptor activity induced by naturally occurring activating heptahelical LHR mutations. Thus, the ECD stabilizes an activation-competent conformation of the heptahelical region. While the full-length LHR fused to the cognate agonist, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), showed increased basal activity, fusion proteins between hCG and N-terminally truncated LHR did not yield constitutive receptor activity suggesting an important role of the ECD also for agonist-dependent LHR activity. Our experiments strengthen the concept of a major contribution of the LHR–ECD in the activation mechanism apart from hormone binding and provide evidence for a cooperative model with structural and functional interactions of the ECD and the transmembrane domain.

Restricted access

M Wallis, D J Gwilliam and O C Wallis


125I-Labelled polypeptide hormones have been extremely valuable for radioimmunoassays, receptor-binding studies and investigation of the processing and metabolism of hormones. However, such externally labelled material has the disadvantage that addition of one or more iodine atoms may alter the properties of the polypeptide. Furthermore, for studies on hormone metabolism and processing, the label may become separated from the hormone or its main breakdown products. Use of internally labelled polypeptides produced by biosynthesis can avoid such problems, but previously such material has usually been of low specific radioactivity, and unsuitable for many purposes. Here we describe the development of a procedure for the production of an internally labelled ovine GH analogue (oGH1) using a plasmid produced by recombinant DNA methods and expression in Escherichia coli.

Bacteria were grown in medium containing a low sulphate concentration, and then incubated in medium containing 35SO4 2− as the sole sulphur source. Under these conditions, the bacteria incorporated 35S into proteins including GH. Purification of such material required considerable modification of previously described methods, because of the need to handle very small amounts of highly radioactive material. The bacteria were lysed using lysozyme, and inclusion bodies were solubilized using 6 m guanidinium chloride. [35S]oGH1 was renatured and then purified by gel filtration on Sephacryl S-100, followed by immunoaffinity chromatography and a second gel filtration step. Material prepared in this way had a specific radioactivity of 6–27 μCi/μg, and showed high 'bind-ability' to polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies and to receptors. 35S-Labelled material bound to receptors more effectively than 125I-labelled GH and showed improved stability. Such material appears to be well suited to receptor-binding studies and studies on the processing and metabolism of GH. The procedure developed should be applicable to other polypeptide hormones.

Free access

PJ Lowry

The endocrine placenta has a dilemma; it shares the foetal circulation and yet it needs to secrete active peptide hormones into the maternal circulation to control her metabolism to meet the demands of the growing foetus. Simultaneously, it needs to allow the endocrine systems of the foetus to develop independently. This Article will describe how peptide hormones are processed from inactive intermediates and will propose a hypothesis of how the placenta has revised this process to protect the foetus from the potentially damaging affects of these products.

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.

Restricted access

L. Best, E. A. Bone, J. E. Meats and S. Tomlinson


Intracellular pH (pHi) was monitored in dispersed pancreatic islet cells from rats using the fluorescent dye 2′7′bis-carboxyethyl-5′(6′)-carboxyfluorescein. The addition of a weak acid (acetate, propionate or formate) provoked a rapid fall in pHi, corresponding to approximately 0·2 units, followed by a slower return to the basal value. Amiloride also caused a rapid fall in pHi, but no recovery occurred in this case. Addition of NH4Cl induced a rise in pHi. Of the nutrients tested, only glyceraldehyde produced a fall in pHi, both glucose and α-ketoisocaproate causing a gradual and sustained rise in pHi.

Insulin secretion and inositol lipid metabolism in response to nutrient stimuli were markedly inhibited by NH4Cl. The responses to non-nutrient stimuli were unaffected. Glucose-induced insulin secretion and inositol lipid metabolism were potentiated in the presence of amiloride. No such potentiation, however, was observed in the presence of weak acids.

Amiloride and weak acids shared the ability to reduce the fractional outflow rate of 45Ca2+.

It is concluded that pharmacological manipulations of pHi can influence certain aspects of islet cell function, such as calcium handling, though it seems unlikely that the stimulation of islets by nutrient secretagogues occurs as a result of changes in pHi.

Free access

Patricia K Russell, Michele V Clarke, Jarrod P Skinner, Tammy P S Pang, Jeffrey D Zajac and Rachel A Davey

Androgens play a key role in skeletal growth and maintenance in males and can mediate their actions, at least in part, via the androgen receptor (AR) in osteoblasts. To investigate the mechanisms by which androgens exert their effects via the AR in mineralizing osteoblasts and osteocytes, we identified gene targets/pathways regulated by the AR using targeted gene expression and microarray approaches on bone isolated from mice in which the AR is specifically deleted in mineralizing osteoblasts and osteocytes (mOBL-ARKOs). Gene ontology mining indicated a number of biological processes to be affected in the bones of mOBL-ARKOs including skeletal and muscular system development and carbohydrate metabolism. All genes identified to have altered expression in the bones of mOBL-ARKOs were confirmed by Q-PCR for their androgen responsiveness in an androgen deprivation and replacement mouse model. The osteoblast genes Col1a1 and Bglap and the osteoclast genes Ctsk and RANKL (Tnfs11) were upregulated in the bones of mOBL-ARKOs, consistent with the increased matrix synthesis, mineralization, and bone resorption observed previously in these mice. Of significant interest, we identified genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism (adiponectin and Dpp4) and in growth and development (GH, Tgfb (Tgfb2), Wnt4) as potential targets of androgen action via the AR in mineralizing osteoblasts.

Open access

Tingyuan Ren, Yuping Zhu, Xuejuan Xia, Yongbo Ding, Jing Guo and Jianquan Kan

This study aimed to evaluate the protein metabolism effect of Zanthoxylum alkylamides and to explore the potential mechanism in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Diabetic rats were orally treated with 2, 4 and 8 mg per kg bw of alkylamides daily for 28 days. Alkylamides decreased the relative weight of the liver and food intake, significantly increased the relative skeletal muscle weight and significantly decreased the blood urea nitrogen levels. Insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1, total protein (TP) and albumin (ALB), globular proteins and ALB proteins/globulin protein levels in serum significantly increased. TP, RNA content and RNA/DNA ratio significantly increased in the skeletal muscle of diabetic rats. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction results indicated that alkylamides significantly increased the mRNA expression of insulin receptor (InR), IGF1 and insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) in the liver and skeletal muscle. Moreover, the mRNA and protein expression levels of PI3K, PKB and mTOR significantly increased, whereas those of atrogin-1, muscle ring finger 1 and FOXO in the skeletal muscle significantly decreased. Alkylamides may advance protein synthesis by the PI3K/PKB/mTOR signalling pathway and attenuate the catabolism of protein through the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway. Therefore, it was possible that alkylamides ameliorate protein metabolism disorders in diabetic rats by activating the mTOR pathway.

Free access

Sachie Nakamichi, Yoko Senga, Hiroshi Inoue, Aki Emi, Yasushi Matsuki, Eijiro Watanabe, Ryuji Hiramatsu, Wataru Ogawa and Masato Kasuga

Gene related to anergy in lymphocytes (GRAIL) is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that regulates energy in T-lymphocytes. Whereas, the relevance of GRAIL to T lymphocyte function is well established, the role of this protein in other cell types remains unknown. Given that GRAIL is abundant in the liver, we investigated the potential function of GRAIL in nutrient metabolism by generating mice in which the expression of GRAIL is reduced specifically in the liver. Adenovirus-mediated transfer of a short hairpin RNA specific for GRAIL mRNA markedly reduced the amounts of GRAIL mRNA and protein in the liver. Blood glucose levels of the mice with hepatic GRAIL deficiency did not differ from those of control animals in the fasted or fed states. However, these mice manifested glucose intolerance in association with a normal increase in plasma insulin levels during glucose challenge. The mice also manifested an increase in the serum concentration of free fatty acids, whereas the serum levels of cholesterol and triglyceride were unchanged. The hepatic abundance of mRNAs for glucose-6-phosphatase, catalytic (a key enzyme in hepatic glucose production) and for sterol regulatory element-binding transcription factor 1 (an important transcriptional regulator of lipogenesis) was increased in the mice with hepatic GRAIL deficiency, possibly contributing to the metabolic abnormalities of these animals. Our results thus demonstrate that GRAIL in the liver is essential for maintenance of normal glucose and lipid metabolism in living animals.

Free access

Carlos Larqué, Myrian Velasco, Francisco Barajas-Olmos, Neyvis García-Delgado, Juan Pablo Chávez-Maldonado, Jazmín García-Morales, Lorena Orozco and Marcia Hiriart

Research on the postnatal development of pancreatic beta-cells has become an important subject in recent years. Understanding the mechanisms that govern beta-cell postnatal maturation could bring new opportunities to therapeutic approaches for diabetes. The weaning period consists of a critical postnatal window for structural and physiologic maturation of rat beta-cells. To investigate transcriptome changes involved in the maturation of beta-cells neighboring this period, we performed microarray analysis in fluorescence-activated cell-sorted (FACS) beta-cell-enriched populations. Our results showed a variety of gene sets including those involved in the integration of metabolism, modulation of electrical activity, and regulation of the cell cycle that play important roles in the maturation process. These observations were validated using reverse hemolytic plaque assay, electrophysiological recordings, and flow cytometry analysis. Moreover, we suggest some unexplored pathways such as sphingolipid metabolism, insulin-vesicle trafficking, regulation of transcription/transduction by miRNA-30, trafficking proteins, and cell cycle proteins that could play important roles in the process mentioned above for further investigation.