Glucocorticoids and progestins are two classes of steroid hormone with very distinct biological functions. However, the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the progesterone receptor (PR) share many structural and functional similarities. One way that glucocorticoids and progestins can exert different biological effects is through their different abilities to regulate the expression of certain target genes. A strategy employing a retroviral promoter-trap and Cre/loxP-mediated site-specific recombination has been developed to identify genes that are differentially regulated by glucocorticoids and progestins. A mouse fibroblast cell line (4F) stably expressing both GR and PR and containing a single copy of a multifunctional selection plasmid is generated. This line is transduced with a self-inactivating retroviral promoter-trap vector carrying coding sequences for Cre-recombinase (Cre) in the U3 region. Integration of the provirus places Cre expression under the control of a genomic flanking sequence. Activation of Cre expression from integration into active genes results in a permanent switch between the selectable marker genes that converts the cells from neomycin-resistant to hygromycin-resistant. Selection for hygromycin resistance after hormone treatment yields recombinants in which Cre sequences in the U3 region are expressed from hormone-inducible upstream cellular promoters. Because Cre-mediated recombination is a permanent event, the expression of the selectable marker genes is independent of ongoing Cre expression. Thus this system permits the identification of genes that are transiently or weakly induced by hormone.
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- Abstract: Estrogen x
- Abstract: Corticosteroids x
- Abstract: Mineralocorticoid x
- Abstract: Aldosterone x
- Abstract: Androgens x
- Abstract: Testosterone x
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- Abstract: Cholesterol x
- Abstract: Adrenal x
- Abstract: Gonads x
- Abstract: steroid* x
- Abstract: glucocorticoids x
S C Low, K E Chapman, C R W Edwards and J R Seckl
11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) catalyses the metabolism of corticosterone to inert 11-dehydrocorticosterone, thus preventing glucocorticoid access to otherwise non-selective renal mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs), producing aldosterone selectivity in vivo. At least two isoforms of 11β-HSD exist. One isoform (11β-HSD1) has been purified from rat liver and an encoding cDNA cloned from a rat liver library. Transfection of rat 11β-HSD1 cDNA into amphibian cells with a mineralocorticoid phenotype encodes 11 β-reductase activity (activation of inert 11-dehydrocorticosterone) suggesting that 11β-HSD1 does not have the necessary properties to protect renal MRs from exposure to glucocorticoids. This function is likely to reside in a second 11β-HSD isoform. 11β-HSD1 is co-localized with glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) and may modulate glucocorticoid access to this receptor type. To examine the predominant direction of 11β-HSD1 activity in intact mammalian cells, and the possible role of 11β-HSD in regulating glucocorticoid access to GRs, we transfected rat 11β-HSD1 cDNA into a mammalian kidney-derived cell system (COS-7) which has little endogenous 11β-HSD activity or mRNA expression.
Homogenates of COS-7 cells transfected with increasing amounts of 11β-HSD cDNA exhibited a dose-related increase in 11 β-dehydrogenase activity. In contrast, intact cells did not convert corticosterone to 11-dehydrocorticosterone over 24 h, but showed a clear dose-related 11β-reductase activity, apparent within 4 h of addition of 11-dehydrocorticosterone to the medium. To demonstrate that this reflected a change in functional intracellular glucocorticoids, COS-7 cells were co-transfected with an expression vector encoding GR and a glucocorticoid-inducible MMTV-LTR luciferase reporter construct, with or without 11β-HSD. Corticosterone induced MMTV-LTR luciferase expression in the presence or absence of 11β-HSD. 11-Dehydrocorticosterone was without activity in the absence of 11β-HSD, but induced MMTV-LTR luciferase activity in the presence of 11β-HSD. These results indicate that rat 11β-HSD1 can behave exclusively as a reductase in intact mammalian cells. Thus in some tissues in vivo, 11β-HSD1 may regulate ligand access to GRs by reactivating inert glucocorticoids.
Shirlene X Ong, Keefe Chng, Michael J Meaney and Jan P Buschdorf
During pregnancy, glucocorticoids transfer environmental signals to the growing brain and its associated neuroendocrine system to modulate their maturation and function during adolescence and adulthood. Increased in utero exposure to glucocorticoids is associated with impaired fetal growth resulting in low birth weight (LBW) and compromised neural development. The underlying molecular changes affecting brain development, however, are largely unknown. Here, we compared the relative mRNA expression of genes directly involved in glucocorticoid signaling in the hippocampus, amygdala, and cortex of female non-human primate neonates (Macaca fascicularis) of naturally occurring normal birth weight and LBW. We focused on the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) genes as well as that for 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) and found a significantly decreased MR:GR mRNA ratio in the hippocampus and lower expression of 11β-HSD1 in the amygdala associated with LBW. The MR:GR mRNA ratio in the amygdala and cortex was not associated with birth weight, reflecting tissue-specific effects. Protein quantification in the hippocampus confirmed our finding of a decreased hippocampal MR:GR ratio. Our data suggest that the MR:GR ratio in the hippocampus and the expression of 11β-HSD1 in the amygdala are associated with intrauterine growth restriction in non-human primates during early perinatal development.
The pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) plays a pivotal role in homeostasis and stress response and is thus the major component of the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis. After a brief summary of ACTH production from proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and on ACTH receptor properties, the first part of the review covers the role of ACTH in steroidogenesis and steroid secretion. We highlight the mechanisms explaining the differential acute vs chronic effects of ACTH on aldosterone and glucocorticoid secretion. The second part summarizes the effects of ACTH on adrenal growth, addressing its role as either a mitogenic or a differentiating factor. We then review the mechanisms involved in steroid secretion, from the classical Cyclic adenosine monophosphate second messenger system to various signaling cascades. We also consider how the interaction between the extracellular matrix and the cytoskeleton may trigger activation of signaling platforms potentially stimulating or repressing the steroidogenic potency of ACTH. Finally, we consider the extra-adrenal actions of ACTH, in particular its role in differentiation in a variety of cell types, in addition to its known lipolytic effects on adipocytes. In each section, we endeavor to correlate basic mechanisms of ACTH function with the pathological consequences of ACTH signaling deficiency and of overproduction of ACTH.
Yasmine Hachemi, Anna E Rapp, Ann-Kristin Picke, Gilbert Weidinger, Anita Ignatius and Jan Tuckermann
Glucocorticoid hormones (GCs) have profound effects on bone metabolism. Via their nuclear hormone receptor – the GR – they act locally within bone cells and modulate their proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Consequently, high glucocorticoid levels – as present during steroid therapy or stress – impair bone growth and integrity, leading to retarded growth and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis, respectively. Because of their profound impact on the immune system and bone cell differentiation, GCs also affect bone regeneration and fracture healing. The use of conditional-mutant mouse strains in recent research provided insights into the cell-type-specific actions of the GR. However, despite recent advances in system biology approaches addressing GR genomics in general, little is still known about the molecular mechanisms of GCs and GR in bone cells. Here, we review the most recent findings on the molecular mechanisms of the GR in general and the known cell-type-specific actions of the GR in mesenchymal cells and their derivatives as well as in osteoclasts during bone homeostasis, GC excess, bone regeneration and fracture healing.
Michael Wöltje, Beate Tschöke, Verena von Bülow, Ralf Westenfeld, Bernd Denecke, Steffen Gräber and Willi Jahnen-Dechent
Alpha2HS-glycoprotein/fetuin-A (Ahsg) is a serum protein preventing soft tissue calcification. In trauma and inflammation, Ahsg is down-regulated and therefore considered a negative acute phase protein. Enhancement of Ahsg expression as a protective serum protein is desirable in several diseases including tissue remodelling after trauma and infection, kidney and heart failure, and cancer. Using reporter gene assays in hepatoma cells combined with electrophoretic mobility shift assays we determined that dexamethasone up-regulates hepatic Ahsg. A steroid response unit at position −146/−119 within the mouse Ahsg promoter mediates the glucocorticoid-induced increase of Ahsg mRNA. It binds the hepatocyte nuclear factor 3β and CCAAT enhancer binding protein β (C/EBP-β). The up-regulation is mediated indirectly via glucocorticoid hormone-induced transcriptional up-regulation in C/EBP-β protein. A high degree of sequence identity in mouse, rat and human Ahsg promoters suggests that the promoter is similarly up-regulated by dexamethasone in all three species. Therefore, our findings suggest that glucocorticoids may be used to enhance the level of Ahsg protein circulating in serum.
C Delarue, JM Conlon, I Remy-Jouet, A Fournier and H Vaudry
Besides the classical corticotropic hormones, ACTH and angiotensin II, various regulatory peptides produced by the adrenal gland are thought to participate in the control of corticosteroid secretion. Here, we review the evidence that endothelins (ETs) synthesized within the adrenal cortex may act as autocrine and/or paracrine factors to regulate adrenocortical cell activity. The expression of ETs has been detected in normal, hyperplastic and neoplastic adrenocortical cells. The occurrence of ET receptors has been described in the different zones of the cortex. ETs stimulate the secretion of both glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids, and modulate the proliferation of adrenocortical cells. The effects of ETs on steroidogenic cells are mediated through the activation of various signaling mechanisms including stimulation of phospholipase C, phospholipase A2 and adenylyl cyclase activity, as well as calcium influx through plasma channels. These observations suggest that locally produced ETs may play an important role in the regulation of corticosteroid secretion and in the control of mitogenesis in normal and tumoral adrenocortical cells.
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.
N Picard-Hagen, A Penhoat, D Hue, C Jaillard and P Durand
We have shown previously that chronic treatment with glucocorticoids enhances both ACTH-induced cAMP production and ACTH- or 8Br-cAMP-induced steroidogenesis of cultured ovine adrenocortical cells. This treatment has been shown to involve an increase in the number of ACTH receptors. The present study aimed to explore the mechanism of this effect of glucocorticoids on ACTH receptors. Ovine adrenocortical cells expressed one major ACTH receptor transcript of 3·6 kb and three minor ones of 4·2, 1·8 and 1·3 kb. Dexamethasone treatment of cultured cells increased the levels of all these transcripts in a time- and dose-dependent manner, with an EC50 of (1·5±0·6) × 10−8 m. The mean increase over control with 10−6 m dexamethasone was 144 ± 11% (n=14). This enhancing effect was specific for glucocorticosteroids. The antiglucocorticoid Ru38486 blocked the effect of dexamethasone. Testosterone did not modify, while high concentrations of 17β-estradiol decreased, ACTH receptor mRNA levels. Treatment of cells with aminoglutethimide (an inhibitor of steroidogenesis) resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in ACTH receptor mRNA levels, which was prevented by concomitant treatment with dexamethasone. Treatment with ACTH also increased ACTH receptor mRNA levels more than twofold. Addition of aminoglutethimide together with ACTH resulted in a smaller increase than that achieved with ACTH alone. Neither dexamethasone nor ACTH modified ACTH receptor mRNA half-lives. However, these two hormones enhanced the levels of both newly synthesized and total ACTH receptor mRNAs. These results indicate that the positive trophic effect of glucocorticoids on ovine adrenocortical cells involves an enhancement of the transcription rate of the ACTH receptor gene. In addition, they suggest that part of the trophic action of ACTH on ACTH receptors may be mediated by ACTH-induced steroidogenesis.
D Dondi, R Maggi, E Scaccianoce, L Martini, M Motta and A Poletti
We investigated the presence of glucocorticoid receptors (GR) as well as the role of glucocorticoids (Gc) in the control of proliferation of the androgen-independent prostate cancer cell line, DU145. We detected the presence of a specific high affinity binding site (K(d) 2.3 nM) for [(3)H]dexamethasone ([(3)H]Dex) in the cytosolic preparations of DU145 cells; the density of these binding sites is significantly higher than that detected in HA22T/VGH and in HepG2, two hepatoma cell lines classically considered models for the study of GR. Immunocytochemistry studies confirmed the presence of GR in the cytosolic compartment of DU145 cells; GR undergo translocation to the nucleus following exposure to dexamethasone (Dex). The functional activity of GR present in DU145 cells was also studied by analyzing the potency of Dex in inducing chloramphenicol acyltransferase (CAT) activity in DU145 cells transfected with a glucocorticoid/progesterone response element (GRE/PRE) tkCAT plasmid (GRE/PREtkCAT plasmid). The results have shown that Dex stimulates the transcriptional activity of GR in transfected DU145 cells with an EC(50) of 9.65 nM and a maximal induction of sevenfold above basal levels. Finally, a dose-dependent (IC(50) 3.14 nM) decrease of DU145 cell numbers was observed after their exposure to Dex for 4 days; this effect was counteracted by the presence of the steroid antagonist, RU486. In conclusion, the present data suggest a possible role of corticoids in the control of the growth of androgen-independent prostate cancer.