The interaction of receptor activator of NFκB (RANK), a member of the tumour necrosis factor receptor superfamily, with RANK ligand is crucial for the formation, function and survival of osteoclasts. The role of the cytoplasmic oligomerisation domain (pre-ligand assembly domain; PLAD or ‘IVVY’ motif) in the ligand-dependent activation of downstream NFκB signalling has not been studied previously. The discovery of truncating mutations of TNFRSF11A (W434X and G280X that lack the PLAD) as the cause of rare cases of osteoclast-poor osteopetrosis offered the opportunity for functional study of this region. Recapitulating the W434X mutation by transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-mediated targeted disruption of Tnfrsf11a within the region homologous to W434X in the mouse macrophage-like cell line RAW264.7 impaired formation of osteoclast-like cells. Using overexpression studies, we demonstrated that, in contrast to WT-RANK, the absence of the PLAD in G280X-RANK and W434X-RANK prevented ligand-independent but not ligand-dependent oligomerisation. Cells expressing W434X-RANK, in which only two of the three TRAF6-binding motifs are present, continued to exhibit ligand-dependent NFκB signalling. Hence, the absence of the PLAD did not prevent ligand-induced trimerisation and subsequent NFκB activation of RANK, demonstrating that therapeutic targeting of the PLAD in the prevention of osteoporosis may not be as effective as proposed previously.
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S Das, I Sepahi, A Duthie, S Clark, and J C Crockett
Russell A Prough, Barbara J Clark, and Carolyn M Klinge
Dehydroepiandrosterone (3β-hydroxy-5-androsten-17-one, DHEA), secreted by the adrenal cortex, gastrointestinal tract, gonads, and brain, and its sulfated metabolite DHEA-S are the most abundant endogeneous circulating steroid hormones. DHEA actions are classically associated with age-related changes in cardiovascular tissues, female fertility, metabolism, and neuronal/CNS functions. Early work on DHEA action focused on the metabolism to more potent sex hormones, testosterone and estradiol, and the subsequent effect on the activation of the androgen and estrogen steroid receptors. However, it is now clear that DHEA and DHEA-S act directly as ligands for many hepatic nuclear receptors and G-protein-coupled receptors. In addition, it can function to mediate acute cell signaling pathways. This review summarizes the molecular mechanisms by which DHEA acts in cells and animal models with a focus on the ‘novel’ and physiological modes of DHEA action.
J. R. McNeilly, P. Brown, A. J. Clark, and A. S. McNeilly
While the regulation of gonadotrophin secretion by gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) has been well documented in both rats and sheep, its role in the synthesis of gonadotrophin subunits remains unclear. We have investigated the effects of the specific inhibition of GnRH by a GnRH agonist on the expression of gonadotrophin subunit genes and the subsequent storage and release of both intact hormones and free α subunit.
Treatment with GnRH agonist for 6 weeks abolished pulsatile LH secretion, reduced plasma concentrations of FSH and prevented GnRH-induced release of LH and FSH. This was associated with a reduction of pituitary LH-β mRNA and FSH-β mRNA levels (to 5 and 30% of luteal control values respectively), but not α mRNA which was significantly increased (75% above controls). While there was a small decrease in the pituitary content of FSH (30% of controls), there was a drastic reduction in LH pituitary content (3% of controls). In contrast to the observed rise in α mRNA, there was a decrease in free α subunit in both the pituitary and plasma (to 30 and 80% of control levels).
These results suggest that, while GnRH positively regulates the expression of both gonadotrophin β-subunit genes, it can, under certain circumstances, negatively regulate α-subunit gene expression. Despite the complete absence of LH and FSH in response to GnRH, there remained a basal level of β-subunit gene expression and only a modest reduction (50%) in the plasma levels of both FSH and LH, suggesting that there is a basal secretory pathway. The dramatic reduction in LH pituitary content indicates that GnRH is required for the operation of a regulatory/storage pathway for the secretion of LH. There appears to be no similar mechanism for FSH. The LH-specific pathway is probably dependent upon the availability of LH-β subunits which subsequently plays a role in regulating α subunit by sequestering, assembling and storing the intact hormone in the presence of GnRH. Finally, in the absence of responsiveness to GnRH, the regulation of α-subunit production is not at the level of gene transcription. Inefficient translation of the mRNA or rapid degradation of the free α chain may account for the observed dramatic decrease in production of α subunit.
P. Lavender, A. J. L. Clark, G. M. Besser, and L. H. Rees
The pro-opiomelanocortin gene is widely expressed in human tissues, although both transcriptional initiation sites and regulation appear to be tissue specific. In order to determine how promoter and enhancer choice is effected, we have studied the methylation pattern of the gene in a number of normal tissues, tumours and cell lines. Variability of this pattern was observed in the 5′-flanking DNA, particularly at the HpaII site located at −304 bp upstream from the pituitary CAP site. This site was generally methylated in tissues likely to express the predominant extrapituitary (800 nucleotide) message, while in tissues known to express the normal pituitary (1150 nucleotide) message and longer species, a tendency towards undermethylation was observed. Although the sites at which variable methylation occurs did not correspond to established binding sites for regulatory proteins, many of these regions remain to be determined and thus it is possible that methylation may be influential in the tissue-specific regulation of this gene.
A. J. L. Clark, P. M. Lavender, G. M. Besser, and L. H. Rees
As an approach to understanding the abnormalities of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene regulation in human ACTH-secreting tumours, we have analysed the POMC mRNA content of nine such tumours using the Northern blot technique. Most of the tumours and normal human pituitary contained easily detectable quantities of POMC mRNA. The length of this message in most tumours was similar to, or slightly larger than, that in the normal pituitary (1150–1200 bases). Ribonuclease H studies suggested that the origin of any size heterogeneity was a longer poly(A) tail in the tumour RNA. Some tumours, however, expressed a short POMC mRNA (800 bases) which may lack the first two exons of the POMC gene as has been described. A third POMC mRNA size variant (1500 bases) was also seen in low levels in two cases, and as the principal mRNA species in one case. Primer extension and S1 nuclease protection studies suggested that most transcripts in the tumours analysed originated from the conventional promoter, and thus the use of an alternative promoter is not an adequate explanation for the expression of this gene in ectopic ACTH-secreting tumours.
W E Farrell, M F Stewart, A J L Clark, S R Crosby, J R E Davis, and A White
In the normal pituitary, glucocorticoids are the principal negative regulator of the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene which gives rise to the biologically active peptides ACTH and β-endorphin. In Cushing's syndrome, ACTH-secreting pituitary tumours show a degree of glucocorticoid resistance, whilst ACTH-secreting extra-pituitary tumours have an even greater resistance to glucocorticoid excess. In an attempt to understand the mechanism of this phenomenon, we have compared the effects of glucocorticoids on POMC mRNA and peptide secretion in human and mouse corticotroph adenoma cells and in small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) cells. ACTH precursor peptides were inhibited within 24 h by 25–50 nm hydrocortisone in primary cultures from a human corticotroph adenoma. In the mouse corticotroph adenoma cell line (AtT20), inhibition of both ACTH precursors and ACTH was not observed after 24 h but, by 10 days, glucocorticoids suppressed peptide levels with a concentration causing 50% inhibition of 50 nm hydrocortisone and maximal inhibition at 500 nm hydrocortisone. In marked contrast, there was no response to 500 nm hydrocortisone in the five SCLC cell lines (COR L103, COR L42, COR L24, COR L31, DMS 79) all of which secrete ACTH precursors. However, two of the five SCLC cell lines (COR L31 and DMS 79) were responsive to 1000 nm hydrocortisone. POMC mRNA, quantitated by slot-blot analysis, gave similar results for the five SCLC cell lines, implying that the abnormality may occur at the level of gene expression. When one of the three resistant cell lines (COR L103) was incubated with 2000 nm hydrocortisone or 2000 nm dexamethasone a clear suppression of precursor peptides and POMC mRNA was observed. This suggests that the resistance to glucocorticoid inhibition is relative rather than absolute, implying that the normal mechanism is functioning but impaired. Furthermore, there is at least a 20-fold difference in the responsiveness to glucocorticoid inhibition between pituitary and extra-pituitary tumour cells in vitro, which may signify a difference in the underlying mechanism in these two cell types.
Luke A Noon, Artem Bakmanidis, Adrian J L Clark, Peter J O’Shaughnessy, and Peter J King
The ACTH receptor melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2-R) is a G-protein-coupled receptor principally expressed in the adrenal cortex and the adipocyte, where it stimulates steroidogenesis and lipolysis respectively. The coding region of the murine gene is encoded by a single exon, although three upstream non-coding exons have been documented, one of which is incorporated by alternative splicing in adrenal cells. We have detected a novel transcript in adipocytes, which includes a previously unidentified 86 bp exon upstream of the coding region. This transcript appears with slower kinetics during a time course of differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells and is much more highly expressed in these cells and murine adipose tissues than in the Y1 murine adrenocortical cell line, also it is undetectable in murine foetal testes. Inclusion of this exon extends the 5′ UTR to 468 bp and introduces three upstream open reading frames. These are typical features of mRNAs under translational control and imply that the MC2-R gene is regulated both transcriptionally and post-transcriptionally during adipogenesis.
S Barker, W Marchant, M M Ho, J R Puddefoot, J P Hinson, A J L Clark, and G P Vinson
We have generated hybridomas which secrete monoclonal antibodies to the AT1 subtype of the angiotensin II receptor (AT1 receptor). These were obtained after immunization of Balb C/c mice with synthetic peptides representing sequences from either the extracellular domain (residues 8-17) or the intracellular domain (residues 229-237) of the AT1 receptor.
Hybridoma populations were first screened for the production of antibodies which bound to rat liver cells. Further selection, and cloning by limiting dilution, was carried out for antibodies which bound specifically to rat adrenal glomerulosa cells. Confirmation that the antibody designated 6313/G2 interacted with the angiotensin II receptor was obtained using COS-7 cells transfected with AT1A receptor cDNA. In particular, the initial characterization of 6313/G2 showed specific immunofluorescence of vascular endothelium.
J C R Cardoso, M S Clark, F A Viera, P D Bridge, A Gilles, and D M Power
Twenty-one members of the secretin family (family 2) of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) were identified via directed cloning and data-mining of the Fugu Genome Consortium database, representing the most comprehensive description of secretin GPCRs in a teleost fish to date. Duplicated genes were identified for many of the family members, namely the receptors for pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP)/vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), calcitonin, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH), glucagon receptor/glucagon-like peptide (GLP) and parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP)/PTH. Mining of other teleost genomes (zebrafish and Tetraodon) revealed that the duplicated genes identified in the Takifugu genome were also present in these fish. Additional database searching of the Escherichia coli, yeast, Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans and Ciona genomes revealed that the family 2 of GPCRs were only present in the multicellular organisms. Orthologues of all the human secretin receptors were identified with the exception of secretin itself. Additional database searches in the Fugu Genome Consortium database also failed to reveal a secretin ligand and so it is hypothesised that both the receptor and the ligand evolved after the divergence of teleost/tetrapod lineages. Phylogenetic analysis at both the protein and the DNA level provided strong support for each of the individual receptor family groupings, but weak support between groups, making evolutionary inferences difficult. A more critical analysis of the PACAP/VIP receptor family confirmed previous hypotheses that the vasoactive intestinal peptide receptor (VPAC1R) gene is the ancestral form of the receptor.
A. White, M. F. Stewart, W. E. Farrell, S. R. Crosby, P. M. Lavender, P. R. Twentyman, L. H. Rees, and A. J. L. Clark
Expression of the RNA coding for the ACTH—β-lipotrophin precursor, pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), has been demonstrated in five human small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines. Using Northern and slot-blot hybridization analysis of RNA and a bovine POMC cDNA as probe, the processed POMC RNA from SCLC cells was found to be approximately 1350 nucleotides in length, which is larger than that found in the normal human pituitary. Expression of the POMC gene was confirmed by measurement of ACTH precursors secreted by the cells, using a novel two-site immunoradiometric assay based on monoclonal antibodies, which directly quantifies both POMC and pro-ACTH but does not recognize ACTH. Levels of POMC in medium accumulated throughout the growth of the cells, in contrast to POMC RNA which showed a relatively constant level of expression. We conclude that human SCLC cell lines are valuable models for studying the aberrant expression and regulation of the human POMC gene.