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F. Chen and D. Puett

ABSTRACT

The heterodimer, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), contains an a subunit that is common to the glycoprotein hormones and a hormone-specific β subunit. A comparison of all known β amino acid sequences shows that an aspartic acid at position 99 (with the numbering scheme for hCG-β) is one of the seven non-Cys invariant residues. Using site-directed mutagenesis we have replaced hCG-β Asp99 with Arg. Chinese hamster ovary cells, containing a stably integrated gene for bovine a subunit, were transiently transfected with plasmids containing wild-type and mutant hCG-β cDNAs. The Arg99 β mutant associated with the a subunit, but the resulting heterodimer failed to enhance intracellular cyclic AMP production in a gonadotrophin-responsive transformed murine Leydig cell line. Thus, a single amino acid residue replacement in this glycosylated heterodimer containing 237 amino acid residues is sufficient to abolish activity.

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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.

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Yangli Xie, Siru Zhou, Hangang Chen, Xiaolan Du and Lin Chen

Skeletons are formed through two distinct developmental actions, intramembranous ossification and endochondral ossification. During embryonic development, most bone is formed by endochondral ossification. The growth plate is the developmental center for endochondral ossification. Multiple signaling pathways participate in the regulation of endochondral ossification. Fibroblast growth factor (FGF)/FGF receptor (FGFR) signaling has been found to play a vital role in the development and maintenance of growth plates. Missense mutations in FGFs and FGFRs can cause multiple genetic skeletal diseases with disordered endochondral ossification. Clarifying the molecular mechanisms of FGFs/FGFRs signaling in skeletal development and genetic skeletal diseases will have implications for the development of therapies for FGF-signaling-related skeletal dysplasias and growth plate injuries. In this review, we summarize the recent advances in elucidating the role of FGFs/FGFRs signaling in growth plate development, genetic skeletal disorders, and the promising therapies for those genetic skeletal diseases resulting from FGFs/FGFRs dysfunction. Finally, we also examine the potential important research in this field in the future.

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Mingtong Xu, Xiaochao Chen, Li Yan, Hua Cheng and Weiqing Chen

Association between the (AC)n dinucleotide repeat polymorphism at the 5′-end of the aldose reductase gene and the occurrence of diabetic nephropathy was conducted. We examined eight studies consisting of ten Caucasian type 1 diabetes mellitus case–control comparisons and eight studies consisting of nine type 2 diabetes mellitus case–control comparisons, which were based on our inclusion criterion and available in the literature. The meta-analysis demonstrated a large heterogeneity among the studies on the type 1 diabetic subjects and a significant association was observed between the (AC)n dinucleotide repeat polymorphism at the 5′-end of the aldose reductase gene and diabetic nephropathy. The Z−2 allele appeared to be a genetic risk factor for susceptibility to diabetic nephropathy with a random effects odds ratio (OR) of 1.40 (95% confidence interval, CI (1.07, 1.84)). The Z+2 allele showed a protective effect on diabetic nephropathy with a random effects OR of 0.77 (95% CI (0.65, 0.91)). The meta-analysis, however, showed no association between the genetic polymorphism and diabetic nephropathy in type 2 diabetic subjects. Neither the risk Z−2 allele nor the protective Z+2 allele in type 1 diabetic subjects appeared to have an effect on nephropathy in type 2 diabetic subjects, while their fixed effects OR was 1.09 (95% CI (0.96, 1.22)) and 0.88 (95% CI (0.67, 1.15)) respectively. The current meta-analysis demonstrated a correlation between the (AC)n dinucleotide repeat polymorphism and the occurrence of diabetic nephropathy in Caucasian type 1 diabetic subjects in contrast to type 2 diabetic subject population in which such an association could not be demonstrated.

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Bin Chen, Yuanzhong Wang, Susan E Kane and Shiuan Chen

ERBB2 overexpression in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer cells such as BT474 (BT) cells has been found to confer resistance to tamoxifen, and suppression of ERBB2 improves the antiproliferative effects of tamoxifen. In this study, the responsiveness to tamoxifen in the BT/HerR, Herceptin-resistant BT cell lines established through constant Herceptin exposure, was evaluated. Compared with BT cells, improvement of sensitivity to tamoxifen in BT/HerR was demonstrated by ER functional analysis and cell proliferation assay. Tamoxifen in the resistant cell line was found to inhibit 17β-estradiol-stimulating estrogen-responsive gene pS2 expression more effectively than in BT cells in real-time PCR assay. Western blot analysis showed that cross-phosphorylation between ER and downstream components of ERBB2 was attenuated in BT/HerR cells. ER redistribution from cytoplasm to nucleus could be found in these cells through immunofluorescence and confocal studies, and importantly, chromatin immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that tamoxifen induced occupancy of the pS2 promoter by ER and nuclear receptor corepressor (NCOR1) instead of coactivator NCOA3 in these cells. Finally, combination of tamoxifen and Herceptin was found to improve the sensitivity of BT/HerR cells to Herceptin. Our results suggest that the ER genomic pathway in the ER-positive and Herceptin-resistant breast cancer cells may be reactivated, allowing tamoxifen therapy to be effective again, and a combination of tamoxifen and Herceptin can be a potential therapeutic strategy for ER-positive and Herceptin-resistant human breast cancer.

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Z-M Feng and C-L C Chen

ABSTRACT

The promoter/regulatory sequences responsible for the transcription of the rat inhibin α subunit gene in the testis were identified by the transient expression in an MA-10 Leydig tumour cell line of a bacterial reporter gene, chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT), which was driven by different regions of the 5′ flanking sequence of the inhibin α subunit gene. The CAT activity was elevated when the 2·0 kb 5′ flanking α subunit gene fragment was progressively shortened from its 5′ end, and a maximal increase was reached when the CAT gene was driven by an α subunit gene promoter extending to −163 bp. This construct was termed AαBstCAT. Furthermore, when either the −2·0 to −1·6 kb or the −2·0 to −1·0 kb α subunit DNA fragment was fused to AαBstCAT, the CAT activity was markedly suppressed, indicating the presence of negative regulatory DNA elements (NREs) in the upstream region of the gene. The cyclic AMP (cAMP) responsiveness of the α subunit gene, which was dependent upon the putative cAMP response element within the 67 bp α subunit promoter, was not affected by the upstream NREs. The inhibitory effect was also demonstrated when the −2·0 to −1·0 kb fragment was placed in either orientation with respect to the α subunit promoter or to a thymidine kinase promoter, suggesting that the NRE(s) can act as a silencer. Based on our observations we conclude that the basal expression of the rat inhibin α subunit gene in testicular MA-10 cells may, at least in part, be controlled by the upstream silencer(s) and NRE(s).

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N Rosemblit and C-L C Chen

ABSTRACT

Clusterin, also known as sulphated glycoprotein-2 or testosterone-repressed prostate message-2, is a ubiquitous protein found in a variety of tissues and species. In the reproductive tract of the male rat, clusterin is regulated in a complex age-dependent and cell-specific manner. It is expressed at high levels in the epididymis and testis and at very low levels in the prostate under basal conditions. The expression of this gene in the prostate and seminal vesicles is associated with androgen withdrawal, while in the testis clusterin mRNA is repressed by cyclic AMP (cAMP). To understand the mechanisms that control the expression of the clusterin gene better, we isolated and characterized the gene encoding rat clusterin, and analysed its cytosine methylation pattern in various tissues. Several putative regulatory DNA elements were identified, including a consensus AP-1 site in the 5′ flanking region. Two AP-1 sites and two transforming growth factor-β inhibitory elements, one AP-2 site and eight half-sites for glucocorticoid/androgen response elements were found within the first intron, and one cAMP response element was found in the first exon. The cytosine methylation pattern indicated that testicular or epididymal DNA in the rat is hypomethylated in the region between positions −534 and −99 of the clusterin gene, when compared with tissues with lower levels of expression such as prostate as well as liver, lung, kidney and spleen.

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RY Li, HD Song, WJ Shi, SM Hu, YS Yang, JF Tang, MD Chen and JL Chen

In addition to serving as a fat depot, adipose tissue is also considered as an important endocrine organ that synthesizes and secretes a number of factors. Leptin is an adipocyte-derived hormone that plays a vital role in energy balance. Expression of leptin is regulated by dietary status and hormones. In the present study, we report that galanin, an orexigenic peptide, inhibits leptin expression and secretion in rat adipose tissue and in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Treatment with galanin (25 micro g/animal) induced approximately 46% down-regulation of leptin secretion at 15 min, followed by 40, 37 and 47% decreases in leptin secretion at 1, 2 and 4 h respectively. Although Northern blot analysis of adipose tissue from the same animals showed that leptin mRNA expression in adipose tissue was unaffected by galanin treatment for 2 h, galanin treatment for 4 h led to decline of leptin mRNA expression in a dose-dependent manner. Meanwhile, treating the rats with galanin had no effect on leptin mRNA expression in the hypothalamus. The inhibitory action of the galanin on leptin mRNA and protein levels was also observed in vitro. When incubated with 10 nM galanin for 48 h, leptin mRNA expression and protein secretion also decreased in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. On the other hand, galanin was found not only to express in rat adipose tissue, but also to increase about 8-fold after fasting. Based on these data, we speculate that increased galanin expression in rat adipose tissue after fasting may be involved in reducing leptin expression and secretion in fasting rats.

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Yu-Feng Zhao, Damien J Keating, Maria Hernandez, Dan Dan Feng, Yulong Zhu and Chen Chen

Dysfunction of pancreatic β-cells is a fundamental feature in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. As insulin receptor signaling occurs via protein tyrosine kinase (PTK), we investigated the role of PTK activity in the etiology of β-cell dysfunction by inhibiting PTK activity in primary cultured mouse pancreatic β-cells and INS-1 cells with genistein treatment over 24 h. Electrophysiologic recordings showed genistein treatment significantly attenuated ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) and voltage-dependent Ca2+ currents, and depolarized the resting membrane potential in primary β-cells. When stimulated by high glucose, genistein-treated β-cells exhibited a time delay of both depolarization and Ca2+ influx, and were unable to fire action potentials, as well as displaying a reduced level of Ca2+ influx and a loss of Ca2+ oscillations. Semiquantitative PCR analysis revealed decreased expression of KATP and L-type Ca2+ channel mRNA in genistein-treated islets. PTK inhibition also significantly reduced the rapid component of secretory vesicle exocytosis, as indicated by membrane capacitance measurements, and this is likely to be due to the reduced Ca2+ current amplitude in these cells. These results illustrate that compromised PTK activity contributes to pancreatic β-cell dysfunction and may be involved in the etiology of type 2 diabetes.

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Chunyu Wang, Li Tian, Kun Zhang, Yaxi Chen, Xiang Chen, Ying Xie, Qian Zhao and Xijie Yu

The purpose of the study was to determine the roles of interleukin-6 (IL6) in fat and bone communication. Male wild-type (WT) mice and IL6 knockout (IL6−/−) mice were fed with either regular diet (RD) or high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks. Bone mass and bone microstructure were evaluated by micro-computed tomography. Gene expression related to lipid and bone metabolisms was assayed with real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Bone marrow cells from both genotypes were induced to differentiate into osteoblasts or osteoclasts, and treated with palmitic acid (PA). HFD increased the body weight and fat pad weight, and impaired lipid metabolism in both WT and IL6−/− mice. The dysregulation of lipid metabolism was more serious in IL6−/− mice. Trabecular bone volume fraction, trabecular bone number and trabecular bone thickness were significantly downregulated in WT mice after HFD than those in the RD (P < 0.05). However, these bone microstructural parameters were increased by 53%, 34% and 40%, respectively, in IL6−/− mice than those in WT mice on the HFD (P < 0.05). IL6−/− osteoblasts displayed higher alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and higher mRNA levels of Runx2 and Colla1 than those in WT osteoblasts both in the control and PA treatment group (P < 0.05). IL6−/− mice showed significantly lower mRNA levels of PPARγ and leptin and higher mRNA levels of adiponectin in comparison with WT mice on HFD. In conclusion, these findings suggested that IL6 gene deficiency antagonized HFD-induced bone loss. IL6 might bridge lipid and bone metabolisms and could be a new potential therapeutic target for lipid metabolism disturbance-related bone loss.