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D. J. Mann, A. J. Strain, and E. Bailey


The levels of malic-enzyme mRNA and activity were determined in primary cultures of adult rat hepatocytes maintained on either rat-tail collagen or a laminin-rich substratum. Cells plated on laminin-rich gels exhibited substantially improved patterns of albumin and malic-enzyme expression when compared with cells maintained on rat-tail collagen. Moreover, hepatocytes plated on the laminin-rich matrix displayed marked malic-enzyme inducibility in response to tri-iodothyronine and dichloroacetate, especially in the presence of insulin. However, Northern blot analysis revealed that the ratio of the amounts of the two major malic-enzyme mRNA species (2.0 and 3.1 kb) was reversed when compared with that found in the liver in vivo, the altered levels of these two species being closer to those found in non-hepatic tissues. These findings indicate that, although the hormonal responsiveness of isolated hepatocytes maintained on laminin-rich gels is markedly improved, and approaches the degree of induction demonstrated in the liver in vivo, the mechanisms of control differ, indicating a loss of liver-specific expression.

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Karen Oliva, Gillian Barker, Clyde Riley, Mark J Bailey, Michael Permezel, Gregory E Rice, and Martha Lappas

Our aim was to study the protein expression profiles of placenta obtained from lean and obese pregnant women with normal glucose tolerance at the time of term Caesarean section. We used two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE), utilising narrow-range immobilised pH gradient strips that encompassed the broad pH range of 4–5 and 5–6, followed by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry of selected protein spots. Western blot and quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) analyses were performed to validate representative findings from the 2D-DIGE analysis. Eight proteins were altered (six down-regulated and two up-regulated on obese placentas). Annexin A5 (ANXA5), ATP synthase subunit beta, mitochondria (ATPB), brain acid soluble protein 1 (BASP1), ferritin light chain (FTL), heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein C (HNRPC) and vimentin (VIME) were all lower in obese patients. Alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) and stress-70 protein, mitochondrial (GRP75) were higher in obese patients. Western blot analysis of ANXA5, ATPB, FTL, VIME, A1AT and GRP75 confirmed the findings from the 2D-DIGE analysis. For brain acid soluble protein 1 and HNRPC, qRT-PCR analysis also confirmed the findings from the 2D-DIGE analysis. Immunohistochemical analysis was also used to determine the localisation of the proteins in human placenta. In conclusion, proteomic analysis of placenta reveals differential expression of several proteins in patients with pre-existing obesity. These proteins are implicated in a variety of cellular functions such as regulation of growth, cytoskeletal structure, oxidative stress, inflammation, coagulation and apoptosis. These disturbances may have significant implications for fetal growth and development.

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R A Sporici, J S Hodskins, D M Locasto, L B Meszaros, A L Ferry, A M Weidner, C A Rinehart, J C Bailey, I M Mains, and S E Diamond

The POU-homeodomain transcription factor Pit-1 is required for the differentiation of the anterior pituitary cells and the expression of their hormone products. Pit-1β, an alternate splicing isoform, has diametrically different outcomes when it is expressed in different cell types. Pit-1β acts as a transcriptional repressor of prolactin (PRL) and growth hormone genes in pituitary cells, and as a transcriptional activator in non-pituitary cells. In order to explore these differences, we: (1) identified the transcriptional cofactors necessary for reconstitution of repression in non-pituitary cells; (2) tested the effect of the β-domain on heterodimerization with Pit-1 and physical interaction with the co-activator CREB binding protein (CBP); and (3) determined the β-domain sidechain chemistry requirements for repression. Co-expression of both Pit-1 isoforms reconstituted the repression of the PRL promoter in non-pituitary cells. The β-domain allowed heterodimerization with Pit-1 but blocked physical interaction with CBP, and specific chemical properties of the β-domain beyond hydrophobicity were dispensable. These data strongly suggest that Pit-1β represses hormone gene expression by heterodimerizing with Pit-1 and interfering with the assembly of the Pit-1–CBP complex required for PRL promoter activity in pituitary cells.