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C Bignon, N Daniel, L Belair, and J Djiane

The recent finding that sheep had long (l-oPRLR) and short (s-oPRLR) prolactin receptors provided new tools to further explore prolactin signaling to target genes. Here we used CHO cells transfected with l-oPRLR or s-oPRLR cDNAs to compare the activation of known key steps of prolactin signaling by the two receptors. We found that prolactin stimulated l-oPRLR tyrosine phosphorylation, although it lacked the last tyrosine residue found in other long prolactin receptors. In addition, l-oPRLR and s-oPRLR both responded to prolactin stimulation by (1) Janus kinase 2 (Jak2) tyrosine phosphorylation, (2) DNA-binding activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5), (3) stimulation of transcription from a promoter made of six repeats of STAT5-responsive sequence. However, although it contains STAT5-binding consensus sequences, the ovine beta-lactoglobulin promoter (-4000 to +40) was transactivated by l-oPRLR, but not by s-oPRLR. Taken together, our results indicate that activation of Jak2/STAT5 pathway alone is not sufficient to account for prolactin-induced transcription of this milk protein gene, and that sequences of its promoter, other than STAT5-specific sequences, account for the opposite transcriptional activation capabilities of l-oPRLR and s-oPRLR.

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L Gabou, M Boisnard, I Gourdou, H Jammes, J-P Dulor, and J Djiane


cDNA clones coding for rabbit prolactin were isolated from a pituitary library using a rat prolactin RNA probe. One cDNA contained 873 bases including the entire coding sequence of rabbit prolactin, its signal peptide and the 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of 44 and 145 nucleotides respectively. The deduced amino acid sequence of the cloned prolactin cDNA presented a 93–78% identity with mink, porcine and human prolactins. The prolactin gene transcription was investigated by RT-PCR analysis in several organs of midlactating New Zealand White rabbits. The ectopic transcription of the prolactin gene was examined in more detail in the mammary gland. A strong PCR signal was detected in the mammary gland of virgin does and was also observed during pregnancy and at the beginning of lactation. This PCR signal was very weak in mid-lactating and absent in post-weaning mammary gland.

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C Bignon, N Binart, C Ormandy, LA Schuler, PA Kelly, and J Djiane

Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that binds to specific receptors in numerous tissues. Depending on the size of their cytoplasmic domain, long and short prolactin receptors (l-PR, s-PR) have been described. Up to now, s-PR were found in rodents only. We report here the cloning of full-length coding sequences for short and long ovine prolactin receptors (s-oPR, l-oPR). The only difference between s- and l-oPR coding sequences was, respectively, the presence or absence of a 39 base pair insert at the beginning of the cytoplasmic domain, with two contiguous inframe stop codons at its 3' end. Sequence comparison revealed that the alternative splicing producing s- and l-oPR was different from that of rodents, although the resulting proteins were very similar. PCR experiments on ovine genomic DNA showed that the 39 base pair insert was directly linked to the downstream exon, and separated from the upstream exon by an 800 base pair intron. Thus, the alternative splicing used a single intron with one 5' and two 3' sites. The same organization was found in bovine and caprine genomes, suggesting that this feature is general in ruminants and different from rodents, which use mutually exclusive exons to produce s-PR and l-PR.

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D Ratovondrahona, M Fahmi, B Fournier, MF Odessa, R Skryma, N Prevarskaya, J Djiane, and B Dufy

There is still only limited understanding of the early steps of prolactin (PRL) signal transduction in target cells. Recent studies have identified some of the essential first steps: these include the rapid association of the PRL receptor with JAK tyrosine kinases and tyrosine phosphorylation of a number of proteins, including members of the signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stats) family. On the other hand, binding of PRL to its receptor is rapidly followed by calcium influx. However, PRL-induced ionic events and the related ionic channels involved have not been clearly established. This work was undertaken to characterise the channels responsible for calcium influx and to obtain an insight into their activation processes. Using the patch-clamp technique in the cell-attached configuration, single Ca2+ channel currents were recorded following PRL application (10 nM) in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably expressing PRL receptor (CHO-E32). Statistical analysis showed that the recorded currents were voltage-independent, with a slope conductance of 16 pS. Although these channels were present in excised patches, the fact that PRL was unable to activate them suggested that a soluble cytoplasmic component may be required. Application of the purified inositol phosphate, Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 (2 microM), to the inside of the excised patch membrane activated the voltage-independent 16 pS Ca2+ channel. The open probability (Popen) was enhanced. The inositol phosphates Ins(1,2,3,4,5)P5 and Ins(1,4,5)P3 did not affect channel activity while InsP6 (20 microM) had some effect, although less marked than that of Ins(1,3,4,5)P4. Using the anion-exchange HPLC technique, we then studied the effects of PRL (10 nM) on the turnover of inositol phosphates (InsPs) in CHO-E32. Our studies showed that PRL induces rapid increases in the production of Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 (207% at 30 s), InsP5 (171% at 30 s), and InsP6 (241% at 30 s). Conversely, Ins(1,4,5)P3 showed a transient decrease at 5 s, accompanied by a concomitant increase in Ins(1,3,4,5)P4, suggesting that the former could be transiently phosphorylated to produce the latter. Comparison of the production kinetics of Ins(1,4,5)P3, Ins(1,3,4,5)P4, InsP5, and InsP6 indicated the possibility of additional metabolic routes which have yet to be determined. This study suggests that PRL promotes Ca2+ entry through voltage-independent Ca2+ channels that may be activated by Ins(1,3,4,5)P4 and InsP6.