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B W McFerran and S B Guild


The ACTH-secreting mouse AtT-20/D16–16 anterior pituitary tumour cell line was used to study adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) and protein kinase C (PKC) involvement in stimulus-secretion coupling pathways. In permeabilised AtT-20 cells under calcium ion-free conditions, forskolin (10 μm), CRH-41 (100 nm), guanosine 5′-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (GTP-γ-S; 100 μm) but not mastoparan (10 μm) stimulated cAMP accumulation. Measurement of ACTH secretion under identical incubation conditions revealed that GTP-γ-S and mastoparan significantly stimulated ACTH secretion but forskolin and CRH-41 did not. This dissociates cAMP accumulation from ACTH secretion under calcium ion-free conditions and indicated that the effects of mastoparan and GTP-γ-S on ACTH secretion are not mediated by cAMP production. Calcium ions (1 nm to 1 mm) stimulated ACTH secretion from electrically permeabilised cells in a concentration-dependent manner. cAMP (100μm) and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA; 100 nm) synergistically enhanced the response to calcium ions. cAMP did not stimulate ACTH secretion in the absence of calcium ions nor did it alter the concentrations at which calcium stimulated ACTH secretion. This suggests that stimulation of ACTH secretion via the calcium-dependent pathway is necessary before any cAMP-mediated enhancement of secretion is manifest. PMA, however, did stimulate ACTH secretion in the absence of calcium ions, indicating distinct mechanisms for PKC-evoked secretion. Co-incubation with cAMP and PMA did not exceed the secretory response obtained with the combination of PMA and calcium ions. CRH-41 (1 pm to 100 nm) and forskolin (1 nm to 100μm) stimulated ACTH secretion from intact cells in a concentration-dependent manner. Co-incubation with PMA (100 nm) further enhanced the ACTH response to CRH-41 and forskolin; the effects were simply additive. The present study indicates that there are distinct roles for PKA and PKC in stimulussecretion coupling in AtT-20 cells. The PKA-dependent pathway, acting in concert with the calcium messenger system, serves as part of the stimulus-secretion coupling pathway by which activation of CRH-41 receptors control ACTH secretion. The PKC-dependent pathway, in contrast, seems to be independent of the calcium messenger system and may represent a separate control mechanism of ACTH secretion.

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Haichuan Duan and Colin R Jefcoate

cAMP stimulation of rodent steroidogenic cells produces two StAR transcripts, a major 3.5 kb and a minor 1.6 kb mRNA, differing only in their 3′ untranslated regions (3′ UTR). They exhibit very different responses to stimulation and removal of 8-Br-cAMP, with the 3.5 kb form increasing and declining much more rapidly than the 1.6 kb form. The 3′ end of the 3.5 kb StAR mRNA contains three conserved AU-rich element (AURE) motifs that mediate fast mRNA turnover in over 900 genes in the human genome. In this paper, we explore post-transcriptional regulation in steroidogenic and non-steroidogenic cells using expression vectors containing StAR or luciferase with different StAR 3′ UTRs. We show that the basal steady-state levels of StAR or luciferase protein and mRNA are five to eight times lower with the 3′ UTR of 3.5 kb StAR compared with that of the 1.6 kb 3′ UTR. Examination of transcript stability by direct mRNA transfection showed only a 1.5-fold increase in the rate of cytoplasmic decay of the 3.5 kb mRNA relative to the 1.6 kb mRNA. However, the long 3′ UTR caused a fivefold decrease in the rate of appearance of mature cytoplasmic mRNA despite transcription from the same promoter. This is attributed to less efficient nuclear processing of immature transcripts prior to export to cytoplasm. Selective 3′ UTR sequence substitutions, deletions, and mutations showed that this loss of expression is produced additively by specific sequences in a 700-base basal instability region and by non-specific length effects. These mechanisms are selectively enhanced in steroidogenic cells. The AURE contribute a smaller basal destabilization effect selective for steroidogenic cells that is removed by their mutations. Inclusion of introns in the 3.5 kb StAR vector enhances StAR expression, suggesting the effects of introns complexes on nuclear processing. Br-cAMP provides an additional means to rapidly modulate StAR expression independent of transcription by attenuating the nuclear and cytoplasmic instability mechanisms within the extended 3′ UTR.

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Ilaria Cimmino, Francesco Oriente, Vittoria D’Esposito, Domenico Liguoro, Pasquale Liguoro, Maria Rosaria Ambrosio, Serena Cabaro, Francesco D’Andrea, Francesco Beguinot, Pietro Formisano and Rossella Valentino

The dramatic rise in obesity and metabolic syndrome can be related, at least in part, to environmental chemical factors such as Bisphenol-A (BPA). In this study, we aimed to understand the effects of low-dose Bisphenol-A on the human mature adipocytes and stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells, obtained from subcutaneous mammary adipose tissue of overweight female patients, undergoing surgical mammary reduction. 24 and/or 48-h exposure to BPA 0.1 nM elicited significant increase of the inflammatory molecules interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), monocyte chemo-attractant protein 1α (MCP1α) and induced G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 30 (GPR30) levels more than two-fold both in mature adipocytes and SVF cells. These effects were similar to that obtained in the presence of GPR30-specific agonist G1 (100 nM) and were reverted by G15 (1 µM), a GPR30-selective antagonist. As a result of BPA-GPR30 signaling activation, fatty acid synthase (FAS) and leptin mRNA levels were significantly higher upon BPA exposure (P < 0.05) in mature adipocytes, with an opposite effect on adiponectin (ADIPOQ). In addition, an increase in SVF cell proliferation and ERK1/2 phosphorylation, was observed, compared to untreated cells. G15 reverted all of these effects. Interestingly, the action of BPA on SVF cell growth was mimicked by IL-8 treatment and was reverted by incubation with anti-IL8 antibodies. All these data suggest that BPA at 0.1 nM, a ten times lower concentration than environmental exposure, increases the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines via GPR30 both in mature mammary adipocytes and in SVF cells with a possible involvement of IL-8.

Free access

H Watanabe, A Suzuki, M Goto, S Ohsako, C Tohyama, H Handa and T Iguchi

The environmental pollutant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) adversely affects many organisms. TCDD exposure is known to be associated with abnormal development, hepatotoxicity and endocrine effects. It has also been reported to have antiestrogenic activity in addition to estrogenic activity. In order to clarify the effects of TCDD in the uterus, we evaluated the patterns of gene expression after TCDD and estradiol administration. Of the 10 000 arrayed genes, only a few were affected by both estradiol and TCDD. Although the subset of genes that responded to estrogen was also activated by TCDD, the response to TCDD was more limited than that observed in response to estradiol. Therefore, according to our analysis of gene expression patterns, TCDD had partial and weak estrogenic activity in the uterus.

Free access

Andreas Hoeflich and Maximilian Bielohuby

The adrenal gland influences a multitude of processes during stress response, but also potently affects the immune system, glucose metabolism, electrolyte or water homeostasis, and cardiovascular functions. According to the present understanding, the adrenal cortex is tightly controlled by the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. This axis involves hypothalamic CRH and pituitary ACTH which determine processes of adrenocortical growth and function. However, control of the adrenal gland comprises a plethora of additional endogenous or exogenous factors. Among those are diverse hormones, psychosocial parameters, physiological stress, secondary plant products, or even environmental pollutants. In the present review, we summarize the current view of endocrine growth control in the adrenal gland. We then discuss intracellular mechanisms of adrenal growth control and focus on extracellular signal regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2), which have been demonstrated to be controlled by not only ACTH or angiotensin II, but also by a large number of additional effectors. On the basis of these multiple exogenous or endogenous factors which impact on the adrenal gland through ERK1/2 activity, we speculate on a mechanism by which ERK1/2 act as a central integrative growth regulatory elements in the adrenal gland.