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A Pierre, C Pisselet, J Dupont, B Mandon-Pépin, D Monniaux, P Monget and S Fabre

We have recently reported that bone morphogenetic protein-4 (BMP-4) can inhibit progesterone production by ovine granulosa cells (GCs). Here, we have investigated the underlying mechanisms of this effect in basal as well as in FSH-induced conditions. We have confirmed that treatment with BMP-4 decreased basal GC progesterone secretion and totally abolished FSH-stimulating action. This inhibitory action was associated with a decrease in the expression of cAMP-regulated genes, steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) and P450 side-chain cleavage (P450 scc) at mRNA and protein levels. However, BMP-4 did not alter basal cAMP production by GCs. In contrast, BMP-4 decreased by half the FSH-induced cAMP production and strongly inhibited cAMP-induced progesterone production. Thus, the inhibitory effect of BMP-4 was exerted both upstream and downstream of cAMP signalling. We next examined the downstream effect, focusing on cAMP-dependent transcription factors, steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1) and CREB, through the BMP factor signalling intermediary, Smad1. As expected, BMP-4 induced phosphorylation and transcriptional activity of Smad1 in ovine GCs. BMP-4-activated Smad1 did not affect CREB activity but inhibited the transcriptional activity of SF-1 on the canonical SF-1 responsive element. Interestingly, this transcriptional inhibitory mechanism occurred on transfected StAR and P450 scc promoter. Based on these results, we propose that SF-1 is a key target in the inhibitory mechanism exerted by BMP-4 on progesterone synthesis by ovine GCs in culture. Because SF-1 plays an essential role in the differentiation of GCs, our findings could have new implications in understanding the role of BMP family members in the control of ovarian folliculogenesis.

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Magdalena I Suszko and Teresa K Woodruff

Members of the transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) family control diverse cellular responses including differentiation, proliferation, controlled cell death and migration. The response of a cell to an individual ligand is highly restricted yet the signaling pathways for TGFβ, activin and bone morphogenic proteins share a limited number of receptors and activate similar intracellular cytoplasmic co-regulators, Smads. A central question in the study of this family of ligands is how cells titrate and integrate each TGFβ-like signal in order to respond in a cell- and ligand-specific manner. This study uses the pituitary gonadotrope cell line, LβT2, as a model to delineate the relative contribution of TGFβ and activin ligands to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) biosynthesis. It was found that pituitary gonadotrope cells do not express the TGFβ type II (TβRII) receptor and are therefore not responsive to the TGFβ ligand. Transfection of the receptor restores TGFβ signaling capabilities and the TGFβ-mediated stimulation of FSHβ gene transcription in LβT2 cells. Consequently, we evaluated the presence of the TβRII in the adult mouse pituitary. TβRII does not co-localize with FSH-producing cells; however it is detected on the cell surface of prolactin- and growth hormone-positive cells. Taken together, these results suggest that the bioavailability of the TGFβ-specific receptor rather than TGFβ dictates pituitary gonadotrope selectivity to activin, which is necessary to maintain normal reproductive function. It is likely that the ligand-restricted mechanisms employed by the gonadotrope are present in other cells, which could explain the distinct control of many cellular processes by members of the TGFβ superfamily.

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Tomoko Tanaka, Shigeki Gondo, Taijiro Okabe, Kenji Ohe, Hisao Shirohzu, Hidetaka Morinaga, Masatoshi Nomura, Kenzaburo Tani, Ryoichi Takayanagi, Hajime Nawata and Toshihiko Yanase

Abstract

Steroidogenic factor 1/adrenal 4 binding protein (SF-1/Ad4BP) is an essential nuclear receptor for steroidogenesis as well as for adrenal and gonadal gland development. Mesenchymal bone marrow cells (BMCs) contain pluripotent progenitor cells, which differentiate into multiple lineages. In a previous study, we reported that adenovirus-mediated forced expression of SF-1 could transform mouse primary long-term cultured BMCs into steroidogenic cells. For future clinical application, trials using human BMCs would be indispensable. In this study, we examined whether SF-1 could transform human BMCs into steroidogenic cells and compared the steroid profile of these cellswith that of mouse steroidogenic BMCs. Primary cultured human BMCs infected with adenovirus containing bovine SF-1 cDNA could produce progesterone, corticosterone, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone, testosterone, and estradiol. Such a mixed character of adrenal and gonadal steroid production in human BMCs was supported by the expressions of P450scc, 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD), P450c21, P450c11, P450c17, 17β-HSD, and P450arom mRNAs. Unlike mouse steroidogenic BMCs, introduction of SF-1 into human BMCs caused dramatic inductions of both ACTH and LH receptors, thus leading to good responsiveness of the cells to ACTH and LH respectively. Importantly, among several factors that are known to be closely associated with adrenal and/or gonadal development, introduction of only SF-1 enabled the human BMCs to express P450scc and to produce cortisol and testosterone, suggesting that SF-1 is truly a master regulator for the production of steroidogenic cells from human BMCs.

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Claire Glister, Sheena L Regan, Moafaq Samir and Phil G Knight

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are firmly implicated as intra-ovarian regulators of follicle function and steroidogenesis, but information is lacking regarding the regulation of BMP signalling by extracellular binding proteins co-expressed in the ovary. In this study, we compared the abilities of four BMP-binding proteins (gremlin, noggin, chordin, follistatin) to antagonize the action of four different BMPs (BMP2 BMP4, BMP6, BMP7) on LH-induced androstenedione secretion by bovine theca cells in primary culture. Expression of the four BMP-binding proteins and BMPs investigated here has previously been documented in bovine follicles. All four BMPs suppressed androstenedione secretion by >85%. Co-treatment with gremlin antagonized BMP2- and, less potently, BMP4-induced suppression of androgen secretion but did not affect responses to BMP6 and BMP7. Noggin antagonized the effects of three BMPs (rank order: BMP4 > BMP2 > BMP7) but did not affect the response to BMP6. Follistatin partially reversed the suppressive effects of BMP6 on androgen secretion but did not affect BMP2, BMP4 and BMP7 action. Chordin had no effect on the response to any of the four BMPs. BMP6 treatment upregulated thecal expression of GREM1, NOG, CHRD and SMAD6 mRNA whilst inhibiting expression of the four BMPs. Taken together with previous work documenting the intra-ovarian expression of different BMPs, BMP-binding proteins and signalling receptors, these observations reinforce the conclusion that extracellular binding proteins selectively modulate BMP-dependent alterations in thecal steroidogenesis. As such they likely constitute an important regulatory component of this and other intra-ovarian actions of BMPs.

Free access

Weijuan Shao, Vivian Szeto, Zhuolun Song, Lili Tian, Zhong-Ping Feng, M Cristina Nostro and Tianru Jin

Pancreatic β-cell Tcf7l2 deletion or its functional knockdown suggested the essential role of this Wnt pathway effector in controlling insulin secretion, glucose homeostasis and β-cell gene expression. As the LIM homeodomain protein ISL1 is a suggested Wnt pathway downstream target, we hypothesize that it mediates metabolic functions of TCF7L2. We aimed to determine the role of ISL1 in mediating the function of TCF7L2 and the incretin hormone GLP-1 in pancreatic β-cells. The effect of dominant negative TCF7L2 (TCF7L2DN) mediated Wnt pathway functional knockdown on Isl1 expression was determined in βTCFDN mouse islets and in the rat insulinoma cell line INS-1 832/13. Luciferase reporter assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation were utilized to determine whether Isl1 is a direct downstream target of Tcf7l2. TCF7L2DN adenovirus infection and siRNA-mediated Isl1 knockdown on β-cell gene expression were compared. Furthermore, Isl1 knockdown on GLP-1 stimulated β-catenin S675 phosphorylation and insulin secretion was determined. We found that TCF7L2DN repressed ISL1 levels in βTCFDN islets and the INS-1 832/13 cell line. Wnt stimulators enhanced Isl1 promoter activity and binding of TCF7L2 on Isl1 promoter. TCF7L2DN adenovirus infection and Isl1 knockdown generated similar repression on expression of β-cell genes, including the ones that encode GLUT2 and GLP-1 receptor. Either TCF7L2DN adenovirus infection or Isl1 knockdown attenuated GLP-1-stimulated β-catenin S675 phosphorylation in INS-1 832/13 cells or mouse islets and GLP-1 stimulated insulin secretion in INS-1 832/13 or MIN6 cells. Our observations support the existence of TCF7L2–ISL1 transcriptional network, and we suggest that this network also mediates β-cell function of GLP-1.

Free access

Rui Wang, Jie Hong, Ruixin Liu, Maopei Chen, Min Xu, Wiqiong Gu, Yifei Zhang, Qinyun Ma, Feng Wang, Juan Shi, Jiqiu Wang, Weiqing Wang and Guang Ning

WNT/β-catenin signalling is involved in regulating adipogenesis, and its dysregulation occurs in obesity. Secreted frizzled-related protein 5 (SFRP5) is a WNT protein inhibitor; however, its role in adipogenesis and obesity is controversial. In this study, we observed that SFRP5 mRNA levels were increased in the fat tissues of obese humans and mice. Sfrp5 expression was gradually induced during differentiation of white and brown adipocytes and was highly increased in mature adipocytes rather than preadipocytes. However, the effects of the exogenous overexpression of Sfrp5 indicated that Sfrp5 may not directly regulate adipogenesis in vitro under the conditions studied. Moreover, SFRP5 did not inhibit the canonical WNT/β-catenin signalling pathway in preadipocytes. Subsequently, we measured the levels of circulating SFRP5 in obese patients and non-obese subjects using ELISA and did not find any significant difference. Collectively, these findings indicate that Sfrp5 represents a candidate for a mature adipocyte marker gene. Our data provide new evidence concerning the role of SFRP5 in adipogenesis of white and brown adipocytes and obesity.

Free access

Chen Chen, Yongdong Peng, Yinglin Peng, Jian Peng and Siwen Jiang

MicroRNAs are endogenous, conserved, and non-coding small RNAs that function as post-transcriptional regulators of fat development and adipogenesis. Adipogenic marker genes, such as CCAAT/enhancer binding protein α (Cebpa), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (Pparg), adipocyte fatty acid binding protein (Ap2), and fatty acid synthase (Fas), are regarded as the essential transcriptional regulators of preadipocyte differentiation and lipid storage in mature adipocytes. Canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling is recognized as a negative molecular switch during adipogenesis. In the present work we found that miR-135a-5p is markedly downregulated during the process of 3T3-L1 preadipocyte differentiation. Overexpression of miR-135a-5p impairs the expressions of adipogenic marker genes as well as lipid droplet accumulation and triglyceride content, indicating the importance of miR-135a-5p for adipogenic differentiation and adipogenesis. Further studies show that miR-135a-5p directly targets adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc), contributes to the translocation of β-catenin from cytoplasm to nucleus, and then activates the expressions of cyclin D1 (Ccnd1) and Cmyc, indicating the induction of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling. In addition, inhibition of APC with siRNA exhibits the same effects as overexpression of miR-135a-5p. Our findings demonstrate that miR-135a-5p suppresses 3T3-L1 preadipocyte differentiation and adipogenesis through the activation of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling by directly targeting Apc. Taken together, these results offer profound insights into the adipogenesis mechanism and the development of adipose tissue.

Free access

Custodia García-Jiménez, Jose Manuel García-Martínez, Ana Chocarro-Calvo and Antonio De la Vieja

Extensive epidemiological studies suggest that the diabetic population is at higher risk of site-specific cancers. The diabetes–cancer link has been hypothesized to rely on various hormonal (insulin, IGF1, adipokines), immunological (inflammation), or metabolic (hyperglycemia) characteristics of the disease and even on certain treatments. Inflammation may have an important but incompletely understood role. As a growth factor, insulin directly, or indirectly through IGF1, has been considered the major link between diabetes and cancer, while high glucose has been considered as a subordinate cause. Here we discuss the evidence that supports a role for insulin/IGF1 in general in cancer, and the mechanism by which hyperglycemia may enhance the appearance, growth and survival of diabetes-associated cancers. High glucose triggers several direct and indirect mechanisms that cooperate to promote cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasion and immunological escape. In particular, high glucose enhancement of WNT/β-catenin signaling in cancer cells promotes proliferation, survival and senescence bypass, and represents a previously unrecognized direct mechanism linking diabetes-associated hyperglycemia to cancer. Increased glucose uptake is a hallmark of tumor cells and may ensure enhanced WNT signaling for continuous proliferation. Mechanistically, high glucose unbalances acetylation through increased p300 acetyl transferase and decreased sirtuin 1 deacetylase activity, leading to β-catenin acetylation at lysine K354, a requirement for nuclear accumulation and transcriptional activation of WNT-target genes. The impact of high glucose on β-catenin illustrates the remodeling of cancer-associated signaling pathways by metabolites. Metabolic remodeling of cancer-associated signaling will receive much research attention in the coming years. Future epidemiological studies may be guided and complemented by the identification of these metabolic interplays. Together, these studies should lead to the development of new preventive strategies for diabetes-associated cancers.

Free access

M Fujita, S Ogawa, H Fukuoka, T Tsukui, N Nemoto, O Tsutsumi, Y Ouchi and S Inoue

During pregnancy, the uterus shows marked morphological and physiological changes under the regulation of ovarian steroid. To elucidate the molecular cues of these changes, we tried to identify the transcripts differentially expressed in the pregnant rat uterus by using the suppression subtractive hybridization method. Seven independent clones were isolated and one of the up-regulated genes was secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (sFRP4). sFRP4 contains a Wnt-binding domain and belongs to the secreted frizzled protein family whose members are assumed to function as modulators of the Wnt signal. The expression level of sFRP4 mRNA reached a peak in the pregnant uterus on day 12, when uterine decidualization was almost complete in the rat. In situ hybridization histochemistry revealed that sFRP4 transcripts were observed in the decidual cells. In addition, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)-positive cells were shown to be overlapped in decidua, suggesting that sFRP4 mRNA expression was accompanied by the late phase of decidual cell proliferation. Moreover, sFRP4 and estrogen receptor-alpha transcripts were co-localized. Furthermore, we analyzed the regulation of sFRP4 by estrogen using 17 beta-estradiol-treated ovariectomized rats. sFRP4 mRNA was detected in the uterus at 48 h after estrogen treatment, especially in endometrial stroma where PCNA-positive cells were also observed. The results in this study led us to the notion that sFRP4 mRNA may be up-regulated after estrogen treatment in the late phase of uterine cell proliferation.

Free access

Samantha Gardner, Emmanouil Stavrou, Patricia E Rischitor, Elena Faccenda and Adam J Pawson

The binding of GnRH to its receptor on pituitary gonadotropes leads to the targeting of a diverse array of signalling mediators. These mediators drive multiple signal transduction pathways, which in turn regulate a variety of cellular processes, including the biosynthesis and secretion of the gonadotropins LH and FSH. Advances in our understanding of the mechanisms and signalling pathways that are recruited to regulate gonadotrope function are continually being made. This review will focus on the recent demonstration that key mediators of the canonical Wnt signalling pathway are targeted by GnRH in gonadotropes, and that these may play essential roles in regulating the expression of many of the key players in gonadotrope biology, including the GnRH receptor and the gonadotropins.