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Free access

Hanze Du, Limei Liu, Ying Wang, Yuichi Nakagawa, Alexei Lyzlov, Kabirullah Lutfy, Theodore C Friedman, Xiaozhong Peng and Yanjun Liu

Pre-receptor activation of glucocorticoids via 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1 (HSD11B1)) has been identified as an important mediator of the metabolic syndrome. Hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PDH) mediates 11β-HSD1 amplifying tissue glucocorticoid production by driving intracellular NADPH exposure to 11β-HSD1 and requires glucose-6-phosphate transporter (G6PT (SLC37A4)) to maintain its activity. However, the potential effects of G6PT on tissue glucocorticoid production in type 2 diabetes and obesity have not yet been defined. Here, we evaluated the possible role of G6PT antisense oligonucleotides (G6PT ASO) in the pre-receptor metabolism of glucocorticoids as related to glucose homeostasis and insulin tolerance by examining the production of 11β-HSD1 and H6PDH in both male db/ + and db/db mouse liver tissue. We observed that G6PT ASO treatment of db/db mice markedly reduced hepatic G6PT mRNA and protein levels and substantially diminished the activation of hepatic 11β-HSD1 and H6PDH. Reduction of G6pt expression was correlated with the suppression of both hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes G6Pase and PEPCK and corresponded to the improvement of hyperglycemia and insulin resistance in db/db mice. Addition of G6PT ASO to mouse hepa1–6 cells led to a dose-dependent decrease in 11B-Hsd1 production. Knockdown of G6PT with RNA interference also impaired 11B-Hsd1 expression and showed comparable effects to H6pdh siRNA on silencing of H6pdh and 11B-Hsd1 expression in these intact cells. These findings suggest that G6PT plays an important role in the modulation of pre-receptor activation of glucocorticoids and provides new insights into the role of G6PT in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Free access

Yuiko Matsumoto, Ryohei Yatsu, Caitlin Taylor and David Crews

We examined the expression of candidate sex-determining genes in the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta) during the temperature-sensitive period (TSP). Aromatase and Rspo1 were used as markers of ovarian differentiation and Sox9 was used as a marker of testicular differentiation. Eggs were incubated at a male-producing temperature (26 °C or MPT) and a female-producing temperature (31 °C or FPT). First, eggs at the beginning of the TSP (stage 16) were topically treated with the steroid hormones 17β-estradiol (E2), testosterone in combination with aromatase inhibitor (AI+T), the E2 antagonist (ICI 182 780), and the androgen antagonist (flutamide). Secondly, gonads were removed at stage 16 and treated in vitro with E2, AI+T, or hormone antagonists. At the FPT, AI+T in ovo suppressed aromatase and Rspo1, while activating Sox9. At the MPT, E2 treatment rapidly increased aromatase and Rspo1, while suppressing Sox9. Treatment with the E2 antagonist in ovo decreased aromatase at the FPT. Treatment with the androgen antagonist in ovo increased aromatase and Rspo1 at early time points at MPT and decreased Sox9 at MPT at later developmental stages. Treatment of isolated gonads cultured in vitro with AI+T at FPT decreased aromatase and Rspo1 and E2 increased the expression of these genes at MPT. In vitro treatment with E2 antagonist suppressed aromatase and Rspo1 expression at FPT. Overall, our results suggest that exogenous ligands dictate gonadal development by redirecting the expression of candidate sex-determining genes within the genetic cascades induced by temperature.

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D Whitehead and DA Carter

Activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis during stress is associated with increased expression of genes that code for regulatory hormones such as corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) and ACTH. The identity of the transcription factors that mediate these changes in gene expression is not known. In the present study we have investigated the expression of the cAMP response-element binding protein (CREB) in mouse pituitary, and its regulation during a pharmacological paradigm that simulates activation of the CRF-ACTH axis. Using Western blots and DNA binding assays we have shown that both CREB protein (43 kDa) and CRE binding exhibit a readily-detectable basal level of activity in the pituitary. Following treatment with the 11 beta-hydroxylase inhibitor metyrapone, CRE binding activity was increased at 1 and 2 h but levels of CREB protein were not found to be consistently elevated. However, using a Ser133 phosphopeptide-specific antibody, that detects the functionally important phosphorylated form of CREB (P-CREB), we have shown that levels of pituitary P-CREB are markedly elevated following metyrapone. The same antibody was also used in DNA binding assays, and in the presence of this antiserum CRE binding activity in samples extracted from metyrapone-treated animals was reduced to levels similar to controls. Parallel experiments have confirmed previous studies showing increases in c-Fos expression and AP-1 DNA binding activity following metyrapone treatment but we have shown that c-Fos-associated binding activity does not appear to contribute to the increase in activity detected using the CRE binding probe. Our evidence of functionally relevant changes in pituitary CREB activity following glucocorticoid depletion must be viewed in the context of numerous other novel pituitary transcription factors that are implicated in HPA regulation, but our use of mice as an experimental model has facilitated the use of novel mouse mutants that can be used to dissect the role of individual factors.

Free access

R Urbatzka, B Watermann, I Lutz and W Kloas

Sexual steroids have major regulatory functions in gonadal development, maturation of gametes and sexual differentiation in vertebrates. Previous studies in amphibians provided evidence that dihydrotestosterone and activity of 5-α reductases might play a significant role in androgen-mediated reproductive biology. To test the involvement of 5-α reductases in maturation of gametes in amphibians, Xenopus laevis was exposed to finasteride (FIN), a known inhibitor of 5-α reductase enzyme activity. In a long-term exposure from stage 46 to 66, severe disruption of spermatogenesis was observed in histological analysis of testes as detected by occurrence of empty spermatocysts, while ovaries remained unaffected. Real-time PCR analyses of male and female brain revealed an increase of LHβ mRNA and a decrease of FSHβ mRNA in males, suggesting a signalling on testes that could result in increased steroidogenesis and reduced Sertoli cell proliferation. Accordingly, the mRNA expression of P450 side chain cleavage enzyme and 5-α reductase type 2 was increased in testes, while no effects could be observed on steroidogenic genes in ovaries. A short-term exposure to testosterone, FIN and testosterone+FIN showed that transient effects of FIN targeted males selectively and, in particular, interfered with the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad axis. Furthermore, a negative feedback of testosterone on LHβ was observed on males and females. This study provides evidence that exposure of X. laevis to FIN, an inhibitor of 5-α reductases, impaired spermatogenesis and involved sex-specific hypophyseal feedback mechanisms.

Free access

M Tirard, J Jasbinsek, OF Almeida and TM Michaelidis

Corticosteroid actions in the brain are exerted via the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR). These receptors share several structural and functional similarities but their activation in the brain triggers distinct biological actions, for instance on neuronal survival or the regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. Like other hormone-activated receptors, the transcriptional properties of the MR and GR depend on their ability to recruit a variety of co-regulators, which modulate their activity on target promoters, in a specific manner. The N-terminal regions of the MR and GR share the smallest degree of sequence conservation, whereas they display opposite effects on the transactivation properties of these receptors; thus, they may provide surfaces suitable for receptorspecific interactions with co-regulatory proteins. Here, we employed a yeast two-hybrid system to identify molecules interacting with the N-terminal part of the MR (amino acids 170-433). This approach resulted in the isolation of representative cDNAs from all members of the protein inhibitor of activated STAT (PIAS) family of proteins as potential MR-interacting partners. In neural cells, PIAS3 exhibited a strong and specific interaction with MR, but not GR, as indicated by mammalian two-hybrid assays and co-immunoprecipitation experiments in vivo. The interaction with MR was enhanced in the presence of aldosterone, an MR agonist, and was found to occur through a conserved, serine- and acidic amino acid residue-rich domain of PIAS3. To compare the modulatory properties of PIAS proteins on MR and GR transcriptional activity in a neural environment, MMTV reporter gene assays were performed in the human neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-MC. This analysis revealed that PIAS3 can inhibit MR, but not GR, transactivation in response to their corresponding ligands. Further, it showed that PIAS1 and PIASxbeta, but not PIASy, could also inhibit MR-mediated transcription despite the lack of detected physical interaction with MR. Interestingly, PIASxbeta and PIASy dose-dependently co-activated GR, whereas PIAS1 impaired GR-induced transcription. Taken together the results reveal differential modulatory roles of the PIAS proteins on the transcriptional properties of MR and GR, thus providing new insights into the bifurcating actions of these two receptors in neural cells where they are frequently co-localized.

Free access

L Y Zhou, D S Wang, B Senthilkumaran, M Yoshikuni, Y Shibata, T Kobayashi, C C Sudhakumari and Y Nagahama

In order to elucidate the roles of 17β-HSDs in fish gonadal steroidogenesis, three types of 17β-HSDs (17β-HSD1, 17β-HSD8 and putative 17β-HSD12) were cloned and characterized from the Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus. The cloned cDNAs of 17β-HSD type 1, 8 and 12 were 1504, 1006 and 1930 bp long, with open reading frames encoding proteins of 289, 256 and 314 aminoacids, respectively. Tissue distribution pattern analyzed by RT-PCR and Northern blot showed that 17β-HSD1 was dominantly expressed in the ovary, while the putative 17β-HSD12, one of the two duplicates found in fish, is a male specific enzyme and expressed exclusively in testis (detected by RT-PCR only). On the other hand, 17β-HSD8 was expressed in the brain, gill, heart, liver, intestine, gonad, kidney and muscle of both male and female. Enzymatic assays of the three types of 17β-HSDs were performed using recombinant proteins expressed in E. coli or HEK 293 cells. Tilapia 17β-HSD1 expressed in E. coli had the preference for NADP(H) as cofactor and could catalyze the inter-conversion between estrone and estradiol efficiently as well as the inter-conversion between androstenedione and testosterone, but less efficiently. Tilapia 17β-HSD8 recombinant protein expressed in HEK 293 cells could catalyze the conversion of testosterone to androstenedione, as well as the inter-conversion between estrone and estradiol. However, the putative 17β-HSD12 expressed in E. coli or in HEK 293 cells showed no conversion to any of the four substrates tested in this study. Based on enzyme characterization and tissue distribution, it is plausible to attribute crucial roles to 17β-HSDs in the gonadal steroidogenesis of teleosts.

Free access

R Sirianni, BR Carr, S Ando and WE Rainey

A unique characteristic of the primate adrenal is the ability to produce 19-carbon steroids, often called the adrenal androgens. Although it is clear that the major human adrenal androgens, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S), are produced almost solely in the adrenal reticularis, the mechanisms regulating production are poorly understood. Herein, we tested the hypothesis that the Src family of tyrosine kinases are involved in the regulation of adrenal androgen production. The NCI-H295R human adrenal cell line and primary human adrenal cells in culture were used to study adrenal androgen production and expression of enzymes involved in steroidogenesis. To examine the role of Src tyrosine kinase, cells were treated with PP2, a specific Src inhibitor. Alternatively, adrenal cells were transfected with an expression vector containing a dominant-negative form of Src. PP2 treatment inhibited basal cortisol production while significantly increasing the production of DHEA and DHEA-S (together referred to as DHEA(S)) in both adrenal cell models. The effect of PP2 on steroidogenesis occurred along with a rapid induction of steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein synthesis as revealed by Western analysis. Treatment with PP2 also increased mRNA levels for StAR, and cholesterol side-chain cleavage (CYP11A) and 17alpha-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase (CYP17) enzymes. Treatment of adrenal cells with the cAMP agonist dibutyryladenosine cyclic monophosphate (dbcAMP), stimulated the production of cortisol and DHEA(S). However, treatment of adrenal cells with a combination of PP2 and dbcAMP enhanced the production of DHEA(S) while inhibiting cortisol production. During dbcAMP treatment PP2 was able to augment the expression of CYP17 and to inhibit the induction of 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD3B2) levels. Increasing the CYP17 to HSD3B2 ratio is likely to promote the use of steroid precursors for the production of DHEA(S) and not for cortisol. Taken together these data suggest that the inhibition of Src tyrosine kinases causes adrenal cells to adopt a reticularis phenotype both by the production of DHEA(S) and by the steroidogenic enzymes expressed.

Restricted access

A J Russell, A M Wallace, M G Forest, M D C Donaldson, C R W Edwards and R G Sutcliffe


A 5-year-old XY pseudohermaphrodite was found to have a defect of steroid biosynthesis consistent with a partial deficiency of the enzyme 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD). Circulating concentrations of Δ5 steroids and Δ5 urinary steroid metabolites were elevated and remained elevated after orchidectomy. There was no evidence of salt loss, plasma renin being within normal limits, and no detectable glucocorticoid abnormality. The coding sequences of the genes for 3β-HSD types I and II were amplified by PCR and screened for mutations by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and manual and automatic DNA sequencing. A mutation in the gene for 3β-HSD type II was observed at codon 173 (CTA→CGA), leading in the affected patient to a homozygous substitution in which the leucine at residue 173 was altered to an arginine (L173R). The propositus's 2-year-old XX sister was also homozygous for L173R and showed the biochemical characteristics of partial 3β-HSD deficiency without clinical symptoms or signs. The mutation segregated as an autosomal recessive. Three related heterozygous adult females showed evidence of a small over-production of Δ5 steroids and steroid metabolites and a variable reduction in ovarian function. Concentrations of Δ5 steroids and steroid metabolites in the heterozygous father of the propositus were within the normal range.

These data are discussed in relation to the endocrine causes of pseudohermaphroditism and hirsutism. Evidence for tight linkage between the genes for 3β-HSD types I and II was obtained using a microsatellite polymorphism in the third intron of the gene for 3β-HSD type II and synonymous and non-synonymous mutations and polymorphisms in the gene for 3β-HSD type I. The latter polymorphisms were located 88 bp apart at the 3′ end of the type I coding sequence and could be physically resolved as haplotypes using DGGE. The application of DGGE to the analysis of mutations in members of a multigene family is discussed.

Free access

David R Clemmons

The IGF-binding protein family contains six members that share significant structural homology. Their principal function is to regulate the actions of IGF1 and IGF2. These proteins are present in plasma and extracellular fluids and regulate access of both IGF1 and II to the type I IGF receptor. Additionally, they have functions that are independent of their ability to bind IGFs. Each protein is regulated independently of IGF1 and IGF2, and this provides an important mechanism by which other hormones and physiologic variables can regulate IGF actions indirectly. Several members of the family are sensitive to changes in intermediary metabolism. Specifically the presence of obesity/insulin resistance can significantly alter the expression of these proteins. Similarly changes in nutrition or catabolism can alter their synthesis and degradation. Multiple hormones such as glucocorticoids, androgens, estrogen and insulin regulate IGFBP synthesis and bioavailability. In addition to their ability to regulate IGF access to receptors these proteins can bind to distinct cell surface proteins or proteins in extracellular matrix and several cellular functions are influenced by these interactions. IGFBPs can be transported intracellularly and interact with nuclear proteins to alter cellular physiology. In pathophysiologic states, there is significant dysregulation between the changes in IGFBP synthesis and bioavailability and changes in IGF1 and IGF2. These discordant changes can lead to marked alterations in IGF action. Although binding protein physiology and pathophysiology are complex, experimental results have provided an important avenue for understanding how IGF actions are regulated in a variety of physiologic and pathophysiologic conditions.

Free access

Michael D Rudd, Ignacio Gonzalez-Robayna, Inmaculada Hernandez-Gonzalez, Nancy L Weigel, William E Bingman III and JoAnne S Richards

FOXO (Forkhead box O1 transcription factors) factors interact with and modify the activity of other transcription factors, including nuclear hormone receptors. However, not all of the structural domains within the FOXO proteins that mediate these functional interactions have been clearly defined. To address this issue, we used a constitutively active (nuclear) mutant of FOXO1a (designated FOXOA3) and within FOXOA3 made additional mutations to alter the putative nuclear hormone interacting domain (NID), minimal activation domain (MAD), DNA-binding domain (DBD), and the N terminus. We document that FOXOA3 enhanced the hormone-dependent transcriptional activity of liganded progesterone receptors A (PGRA) on a glucocorticoid response element-responsive promoter, PGRA on the insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 1 promoter, and estrogen receptor α on an estrogen response element-responsive promoter. The effects of FOXOA3 on PGRA were dependent, in part, on an intact NID, the MAD, and N-terminal domain. In striking contrast, a FOXOA3 DNA-binding mutant (FOXOA3-mDBD) modulated PGRA, PGRB, and ESR1 activities by distinctly different mechanisms, markedly elevating ligand-independent activity of these nuclear hormone receptors even in the double mutant lacking the MAD. Furthermore, both FOXOA3 and FOXOA3-mDBD enhanced the activity of a transcriptionally defective PGRA lacking its AF1 transactivation domain, indicating that this region of the receptor is not essential in this context. Since FOXOA3, FOXOA3-mDBD, and FOXOA3-mNID all bound PGRA in a GST pull-down assay, it appears that the LXXLL (leucine–X–X–leucine–leucine) motif within the NID is not critical for FOXOA3 interactions with PGRA, but may modify the recruitment of other co-regulatory molecules. Collectively, the results show that FOXOA3 exerts co-regulatory functions independent of DNA binding and that the DNA-binding defective form of FOXO1a is transcriptionally active as a co-regulator of these nuclear hormone receptors.