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F. F. Bolander, M. E. Blackstone and B. M. Bradham

ABSTRACT

The role of cyclic AMP (cAMP), calcium, calmodulin and protein kinase C (PKC) in the expression of both mouse mammary tumour virus (MMTV) RNA and an MMTV glycoprotein, gp58, was investigated in normal mammary epithelium in culture. None of these second messengers had any effect on MMTV RNA. Dibutyryl cAMP alone had no effect on gp58 levels but, at low concentrations (0·05–0·1 mm), it nearly doubled the induction seen with insulin, cortisol and prolactin; higher concentrations were inhibitory. Although a calcium ionophore (A23187), either alone or with hormones, was ineffective, a calcium channel blocker (verapamil) reduced hormonal induction of gp58 by 80%, and a calmodulin inhibitor (W-13) reduced it by 90%. Two PKC activators, a phorbol ester and a diacylglyceride, were ineffective alone, with hormones or with the calcium ionophore. The following conclusions can be made: (1) cAMP, calcium and calmodulin play an important role in MMTV expression, (2) these second messengers all act post-transcriptionally, since they do not affect MMTV RNA, and (3) PKC does not appear to have a role in MMTV production in normal mammary epithelium.

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Y Fang and LG Sheffield

The hormone combination of insulin, dexamethasone and prolactin induced accumulation of preproepidermal growth factor (EGF) mRNA in HC11 mouse mammary epithelial cells 16-24 h after the hormones were added to the cultures. Individual hormones or combinations of two of the hormones had no effect on EGF mRNA concentrations. The same hormone combination was capable of inducing expression of a reporter gene construct containing -888 to +25 bp of the EGF gene fused with luciferase. Deletions of the promoter between -888 and -271 bp had no detectable effect on basal or hormone-induced reporter gene expression. However, further deletion from -270 to -74 bp increased baseline to approximately equal hormone-induced reporter gene expression. This deletion also abolished the hormone-induced increase in reporter gene expression. Sequence analysis suggested that this region contained a binding site for Yin-Yang-1 (YY1), which was confirmed by gelshift analysis. Mutation of the YY1 binding site increased baseline reporter gene expression to the same level as induced by insulin, dexamethasone and prolactin in the wild-type promoter. These results indicate that expression of the EGF gene in mammary epithelium is repressed by the YY1 site, and that removal of repression may play a part in regulating EGF gene expression in lactating mammary tissue.

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Katarzyna Zielniok, Agnieszka Sobolewska and Małgorzata Gajewska

In dairy cattle, mammary gland involution serves to remodel the secretory tissue and occurs in a period of overlap between mammogenic stimulation caused by the next developing pregnancy and tissue regression induced by milk stasis. At this time, high concentrations of 17β-oestradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) support the regeneration of the mammary tissue, as well as enhance autophagy, a cellular process induced in response to stressful conditions for energy generation and homeostasis maintenance. This study aimed to elucidate the mechanisms of autophagy induction by E2 and P4 using an in vitro model of involution based on 20-fold reduction of FBS content (from 10% to 0.5%) in the culture medium of BME-UV1 bovine mammary epithelial cells (MECs). Real-time RT-PCR, Western blot and EMSA analyses demonstrated that addition of E2 and P4 caused a genomic effect in BME-UV1 cells, stimulating the expression of autophagy-related genes (ATGs): BECN1, ATG5, LC3B and their corresponding proteins. Furthermore, knockdown of oestrogen receptor (ERα) and experiments with the use of oestrogen and progesterone antagonists (4-hydroxytamoxifen and RU-486, respectively) demonstrated that the observed genomic effect is mediated by steroid receptors. Finally, both steroids were shown to form complexes with beclin1 and regulate Bcl-2 phosphorylation, indicating that an indirect, non-genomic effect of E2 and P4 may also contribute to autophagy induction in bovine MECs.

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P. Pakarinen and I. Huhtaniemi

ABSTRACT

Serum and pituitary LH and FSH, and their pituitary mRNA levels, were measured in neonatal male and female rats after gonadectomy and after gonadectomy with sex steroid replacement. The animals were gonadectomized on day 3 of life, and those given sex steroid replacement were implanted with silicone elastomer capsules containing testosterone for males and diethylstilboestrol for females. Shamoperated rats served as controls. The animals were killed 4 or 8 days later and the sera and pituitaries collected. Pituitary contents of mRNAs for the α subunit, FSH-β and LH-β were determined by blot hybridization using corresponding cDNAs. Distinct sex differences were found in the mRNA responses to gonadectomy and steroid replacement. In the males, gonadectomy increased all mRNA levels at 7 days of age. In the females, a rise on day 7 was detected only for FSH-β; the other mRNAs were increased on day 11 of age. The steroid replacements reversed all the post-gonadectomy increases of mRNAs in both sexes. Moreover, the common α and LH-β mRNAs of the male animals were consistently suppressed below control levels. The serum concentrations of gonadotrophins increased after gonadectomy on day 7 in the males but only on day 11 in the females. The steroid replacements also suppressed the post-gonadectomy increases in serum gonadotrophins, but only the serum concentration of FSH in the females was reduced below controls. Pituitary gonadotrophin concentrations were not affected by gonadectomy, but the steroids suppressed LH in the males and FSH in the females.

It is concluded that the onset of negative-feedback regulation of gonadotrophin synthesis by gonads and/or gonadal steroids starts earlier in male rats, before 7 days of age. In female rats these responses appear between 7 and 11 days of age. Clear sex differences were observed in how gonadotrophin mRNAs and pituitary and serum hormone levels responded to gonadectomy and steroid replacement in the neonatal period. Some of the responses differed from those previously reported in adult animals.

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U. Michel, J. W. McMaster and J. K. Findlay

ABSTRACT

The regulation of steady-state follistatin mRNA levels by different pituitary hormones and peptide factors was examined in granulosa cell cultures derived from diethylstilboestrol-treated immature rats. Cytosolic RNA from cell cultures was prepared by lysis and equal amounts of RNA from all samples were analysed with a solution—hybridization assay using a 32P-labelled antisense probe corresponding to a part of exon 5 together with a part of the 5′ end of exon 6 of the rat follistatin gene. In addition, a specific 35S-labelled probe for cyclophilin was used as an internal standard.

The results show that 5 μg FSH/1 for 24 to 72 h stimulated steady-state follistatin mRNA levels, reaching levels 18·5-fold higher than controls. LH (0·2-100 μg/l) had only minor effects on follistatin mRNA levels in FSH-primed granulosa cells and prolactin, GH and IGF-I did not show any significant effects. Activin raised basal as well as FSH-stimulated steady-state follistatin mRNA levels up to ten- and twofold above controls respectively, whereas epidermal growth factor was found to inhibit FSH-stimulated follistatin mRNA levels in a dose-dependent manner.

It is concluded that follistatin mRNA levels in granulosa cells are regulated by FSH rather than LH, and that the stimulation by FSH can be inhibited by epidermal growth factor but enhanced by activin. Activin alone was also capable of stimulating follistatin mRNA.

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S. D. Abbot, K. Docherty and R. N. Clayton

ABSTRACT

To determine the physiological role of the ovaries in regulation of LH subunit gene expression, levels of cytoplasmic mRNA were measured in a cDNA-RNA dot-blot hybridization assay. An increase (twofold) in α mRNA was first detected 8 days after ovariectomy and then remained stable for 4 weeks. In contrast, LH-β mRNA increased by 60–79% within 12 h of removing the ovaries and then rose progressively to six times the intact values at 3 and 4 weeks. Increases in LH-β mRNA were always greater than those of α mRNA. Oestradiol, and oestradiol plus progesterone, but not progesterone alone, prevented the rise in α and LH-β mRNA 10 days after ovariectomy.

Three days after ovariectomy, α mRNA, but not LH-β mRNA, was suppressed to below intact control values by oestradiol and oestradiol plus progesterone, indicating greater sensitivity of α mRNA to oestradiol inhibition at this stage. A single injection of oestradiol (1 μg s.c.) to rats ovariectomized 14 days previously transiently suppressed α and LH-β mRNA levels and serum LH concentrations in parallel for 1–8 h, after which high preinjection values were restored. However, pituitary LH content remained suppressed after LH mRNA levels had returned to the control values of ovariectomized rats.

In most instances there was a qualitative positive correlation between changes in α and LH-β mRNA, pituitary LH content and serum LH concentrations. LH content reflected LH-β mRNA changes more closely than those of α mRNA. However, in oestradiol-treated rats ovariectomized 10 days previously, LH content remained increased despite normalization of the LH-β and α mRNA levels, suggesting differential sensitivity to oestradiol of the gene expression and translational processes. Thus divergence of pre- and post-translational regulation of LH biosynthesis was demonstrated. These results imply an important physiological role for female sex hormones in the control of LH gene expression and LH biosynthesis.

Prolactin mRNA fell by 30–50% for the first 2 weeks after ovariectomy, but by 3 and 4 weeks values were similar to those of intact controls. Serum and pituitary prolactin levels were reduced by 50% or more at all time-points, despite normalization of mRNA. Treatment of ovariectomized rats for 10 days with oestradiol and progesterone, either alone or combined, reversed the fall in prolactin mRNA and serum and pituitary prolactin levels. These changes in prolactin gene expression and synthesis were opposite to those of LH subunits in response to the same in-vivo hormone manipulations.

Growth hormone mRNA levels were unchanged by ovariectomy, oestradiol or progesterone treatment. Levels of TSH-β mRNA increased slightly (maximum up to 50%) after ovariectomy, but were unaltered by oestradiol and progesterone treatment for 10 days. These results support the view that α mRNA changes, resulting from ovariectomy, oestradiol and progesterone treatment, occur in gonadotrophs and not thyrotrophs, which also express the α subunit gene.

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G W Montgomery, M L Tate, H M Henry, J M Penty and R M Rohan

ABSTRACT

Restriction fragment length polymorphisms were identified in sheep and deer using ovine cDNA probes for the FSH receptor (FSHR) and the LH receptor (LHCGR). FSHR and LHCGR were closely linked in sheep with no recombinants and neither receptor was linked to the Booroola fecundity gene (FecB). Both receptors were also closely linked in deer at a map distance of 3·3 cM. Linkage between the receptor genes assigns FSHR to sheep chromosome 3. Sequence analysis showed that the mammalian LHCGRs and FSHRs are more similar to each other than to mammalian TSH receptor (TSHR). Taken together, these data suggest that TSHR and the LHCGR/FSHR arose from a common ancestral gene by a process of chromosomal duplication. Subsequent duplication of the region containing the LH/FSH receptor and functional divergence could have given rise to the two gonadotrophin receptors present in mammals today.

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Nandana Das and T Rajendra Kumar

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) plays fundamental roles in male and female fertility. FSH is a heterodimeric glycoprotein expressed by gonadotrophs in the anterior pituitary. The hormone-specific FSHβ-subunit is non-covalently associated with the common α-subunit that is also present in the luteinizing hormone (LH), another gonadotrophic hormone secreted by gonadotrophs and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) secreted by thyrotrophs. Several decades of research led to the purification, structural characterization and physiological regulation of FSH in a variety of species including humans. With the advent of molecular tools, availability of immortalized gonadotroph cell lines and genetically modified mouse models, our knowledge on molecular mechanisms of FSH regulation has tremendously expanded. Several key players that regulate FSH synthesis, sorting, secretion and action in gonads and extragonadal tissues have been identified in a physiological setting. Novel post-transcriptional and post-translational regulatory mechanisms have also been identified that provide additional layers of regulation mediating FSH homeostasis. Recombinant human FSH analogs hold promise for a variety of clinical applications, whereas blocking antibodies against FSH may prove efficacious for preventing age-dependent bone loss and adiposity. It is anticipated that several exciting new discoveries uncovering all aspects of FSH biology will soon be forthcoming.

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H Santti, L Mikkonen, A Anand, S Hirvonen-Santti, J Toppari, M Panhuysen, F Vauti, M Perera, G Corte, W Wurst, O A Jänne and J J Palvimo

PIASx belongs to the PIAS protein family, the members of which modulate activities of several transcription factors and act as E3 ligases in the sumoylation pathway. The PIASx gene is highly expressed in testis, suggesting a role in spermatogenesis. To investigate the function of PIASx in vivo, we have disrupted the PIASx gene in mice. Interestingly, the knockout mice were viable and fertile. Despite the normal fertility, the testis weight of the mutant animals was reduced and their number of apoptotic testicular cells was increased. Also, the sperm count of mutant mice tended to be reduced, but the quality of their sperm cells was normal. No significant changes were observed in the serum levels of LH and FSH or in the intratesticular testosterone concentration between the knockout animals and their wild-type littermates. Compensatory increases in other PIAS protein mRNAs were not observed in the knockout mice. These results imply that PIASx is required quantitatively rather than qualitatively for normal spermatogenesis.

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Mihael Freamat, Hiroshi Kawauchi, Masumi Nozaki and Stacia A Sower

A full-length transcript encoding a functional lamprey glycoprotein hormone receptor I (lGpH-R I, GenBank AY750688) was cloned from the testes of the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, using the GpH-R protein fingerprint GLYCHORMONER from the PRINTS database. The present study is the first to identify a GpH-R transcript in an agnathan, which is one of the only two representatives of the oldest lineage of vertebrates. The 719-amino acid full-length cDNA encoding lGpH-R I is highly similar and is likely a homolog of the vertebrate GpH-Rs (including LH, FSH, and TSH receptors). The key motifs, sequence comparisons, and characteristics of the identified GpH-R reveal a mosaic of features common to all other classes of GpH-Rs in vertebrates. The lGpH-R I was shown to activate the cAMP signaling system using human chorionic gonadotropin in transiently transfected COS-7 cells. The highest expression of the receptor transcript was demonstrated in the testes using reverse transcriptase-PCR. Lower levels of the receptor transcript were also detected in brain, heart, intestine, kidney, liver, muscle, and thyroid. The high expression of lGpH-R I in the testis and the high similarity with gnathostome gonadotropin hormone receptors suggest that lGpH-R I functions as a receptor for lamprey gonadotropin hormones. We hypothesize from these data that there is lower specificity of gonadotropin and its receptor in agnathans and that during co-evolution of the ligand and its receptor in gnathostomes, there were increased specificities of interactions between each GpH (TSH, LH, and FSH) and its receptor.