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Jun Yang, Peter J Fuller, James Morgan, Hirotaka Shibata, Colin D Clyne, and Morag J Young

The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. Pathological activation of the MR causes cardiac fibrosis and heart failure, but clinical use of MR antagonists is limited by the renal side effect of hyperkalemia. Coregulator proteins are known to be critical for nuclear receptor-mediated gene expression. Identification of coregulators, which mediate MR activity in a tissue-specific manner, may allow for the development of novel tissue-selective MR modulators that confer cardiac protection without adverse renal effects. Our earlier studies identified a consensus motif among MR-interacting peptides, MPxLxxLL. Gem (nuclear organelle)-associated protein 4 (GEMIN4) is one of the proteins that contain this motif. Transient transfection experiments in HEK293 and H9c2 cells demonstrated that GEMIN4 repressed agonist-induced MR transactivation in a cell-specific manner. Furthermore, overexpression of GEMIN4 significantly decreased, while knockdown of GEMIN4 increased, the mRNA expression of specific endogenous MR target genes. A physical interaction between GEMIN4 and MR is suggested by their nuclear co-localization upon agonist treatment. These findings indicate that GEMIN4 functions as a novel coregulator of the MR.

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R. J. Lacey, N. S. Berrow, N. J. M. London, S. P. Lake, R. F. James, J. H. B. Scarpello, and N. G. Morgan


The selective β2-adrenergic agonist clenbuterol was ineffective as a stimulus for insulin secretion when isolated rat pancreatic islets were incubated with glucose at concentrations between 4 and 20 mM. Inclusion of the phosphodiesterase inhibitor 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine led to potentiation of glucose-induced insulin secretion, but did not facilitate stimulation by clenbuterol. Furthermore, maintenance of isolated rat islets for up to 3 days in tissue culture also failed to result in the appearance of a secretory response to β-agonists. By contrast, clenbuterol induced a dose-dependent increase in insulin release from isolated human islets incubated with 20 mm glucose. Clenbuterol did not increase the basal rate of insulin secretion (4 mm glucose) in human islets. Under perifusion conditions, the secretory response of human islets to clenbuterol was rapid, of similar magnitude to that seen under static incubation conditions and could be sustained for at least 30 min. The increase in insulin secretion induced by clenbuterol was inhibited by propranolol, indicating that the response was mediated by activation of β-receptors. In support of this, a similar enhancement of glucose-induced insulin secretion was elicited by a different β2-agonist, salbutamol, in human islets. The results indicate that the B cells of isolated rat islets are unresponsive to β-agonists, whereas those of human islets are equipped with functional β-receptors which can directly influence the rate of insulin secretion.

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Colin D Clyne, Kevin P Kusnadi, Alexander Cowcher, James Morgan, Jun Yang, Peter J Fuller, and Morag J Young

The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that regulates cardiorenal physiology and disease. Ligand-dependent MR transactivation involves a conformational change in the MR and recruitment of coregulatory proteins to form a unique DNA-binding complex at the hormone response element in target gene promoters. Differences in the recruitment of coregulatory proteins can promote tissue-, ligand- or gene-specific transcriptional outputs. The goal of this study was to evaluate the circadian protein TIMELESS as a selective regulator of MR transactivation. TIMELESS has an established role in cell cycle regulation and DNA repair. TIMELESS may not be central to mammalian clock function and does not bind DNA; however, RNA and protein levels oscillate over 24 h. Co-expression of TIMELESS down-regulated MR transactivation of an MR-responsive reporter in HEK293 cells, yet enhanced transactivation mediated by other steroid receptors. TIMELESS markedly inhibited MR transactivation of synthetic and native gene promoters and expression of MR target genes in H9c2 cardiac myoblasts. Immunofluorescence showed aldosterone induces colocalisation of TIMELESS and MR, although a direct interaction was not confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation. Potential regulation of circadian clock targets cryptochrome 1 and 2 by TIMELESS was not detected. However, our data suggest that these effects may involve TIMELESS coactivation of oestrogen receptor alpha (ERα). Taken together, these data suggest that TIMELESS may contribute to MR transcriptional outputs via enhancing ERα inhibitory actions on MR transactivation. Given the variable expression of TIMELESS in different cell types, these data offer new opportunities for the development of MR modulators with selective actions.