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Matei Bolborea, Gisela Helfer, Francis J P Ebling, and Perry Barrett

Tanycytes play multiple roles in hypothalamic functions, including sensing peripheral nutrients and metabolic hormones, regulating neurosecretion and mediating seasonal cycles of reproduction and metabolic physiology. This last function reflects the expression of TSH receptors in tanycytes, which detect photoperiod-regulated changes in TSH secretion from the neighbouring pars tuberalis. The present overall aim was to determine the signal transduction pathway by which TSH signals in tanycytes. Expression of the TSH receptor in tanycytes of 10-day-old Sprague Dawley rats was observed by in situ hybridisation. Primary ependymal cell cultures prepared from 10-day-old rats were found by immunohistochemistry to express vimentin but not GFAP and by PCR to express mRNA for Dio2, Gpr50, Darpp-32 and Tsh receptors that are characteristic of tanycytes. Treatment of primary tanycyte/ependymal cultures with TSH (100 IU/l) increased cAMP as assessed by ELISA and induced a cAMP-independent increase in the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 as assessed by western blot analysis. Furthermore, TSH (100 IU/l) stimulated a 2.17-fold increase in Dio2 mRNA expression. We conclude that TSH signal transduction in cultured tanycytes signals via Gαs to increase cAMP and via an alternative G protein to increase phosphorylation of ERK1/2.

Open access

Jo E Lewis, John M Brameld, Phil Hill, Dana Wilson, Perry Barrett, Francis J P Ebling, and Preeti H Jethwa

The Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) survives winter by decreasing food intake and catabolizing abdominal fat reserves, resulting in a sustained, profound loss of body weight. Hypothalamic tanycytes are pivotal for this process. In these cells, short-winter photoperiods upregulate deiodinase 3, an enzyme that regulates thyroid hormone availability, and downregulate genes encoding components of retinoic acid (RA) uptake and signaling. The aim of the current studies was to identify mechanisms by which seasonal changes in thyroid hormone and RA signaling from tanycytes might ultimately regulate appetite and energy expenditure. proVGF is one of the most abundant peptides in the mammalian brain, and studies have suggested a role for VGF-derived peptides in the photoperiodic regulation of body weight in the Siberian hamster. In silico studies identified possible thyroid and vitamin D response elements in the VGF promoter. Using the human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line, we demonstrate that RA increases endogenous VGF expression (P<0.05) and VGF promoter activity (P<0.0001). Similarly, treatment with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 increased endogenous VGF mRNA expression (P<0.05) and VGF promoter activity (P<0.0001), whereas triiodothyronine (T3) decreased both (P<0.01 and P<0.0001). Finally, intra-hypothalamic administration of T3 blocked the short day-induced increase in VGF expression in the dorsomedial posterior arcuate nucleus of Siberian hamsters. Thus, we conclude that VGF expression is a likely target of photoperiod-induced changes in tanycyte-derived signals and is potentially a regulator of seasonal changes in appetite and energy expenditure.