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J Bian, X M Bai, Y L Zhao, L Zhang, and Z J Liu

Obesity is currently a worldwide pandemic. Leptin resistance is a main mechanism of obese human and rodents. The downregulation of the long form of the leptin receptor (Lrb) was involved in leptin resistance in diet-induced obese rats. In the studies, we investigated whether arcuate nucleus (ARC) silencing of Lrb would promote diet-induced obesity in rats. Lentiviral vectors expressing Lrb-shRNA were administered to 5-week-old male rats by ARC injection. Following viral delivery, the rats were provided with a high-fat diet (HFD) or a chow diet (CD). After 8 weeks of the diet, serum leptin, and insulin concentrations were measured by RIA, gene expression of Lrb in the ARC was detected by a real-time RT-PCR, and leptin signaling was examined by western blot. The Lrb-shRNA knocked down the expression of Lrb mRNA in infected regions by 54% for the HFD rats and 47% for the CD rats respectively. The Lrb knockdown reduced Stats3 activation and increased expression of Npy mRNA. The rats with reduced Lrb in the ARC showed a significant increase in energy intake and body weight (BW) again when fed with a HFD. By contrast, there were no effects of Lrb reduction on energy intake or BW when rats maintained on a low-fat chow. Our results provide evidence that Lrb knockdown selectively in the ARC promotes diet-induced obesity and associated metabolic complications in rats.

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M Zhang, Y Tao, B Zhou, H Xie, F Wang, L Lei, L Huo, Q Sun, and G Xia

Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) as well as its receptors is found in mammalian ovary and follicular cells and its function in oocyte meiotic maturation has also been reported in Xenopus, hamster and rat. But the results are controversial and the physiological mechanism of ANP on oocyte maturation is not clear, especially the relationship between gonadotrophin and ANP as well as the signal transduction, and these need further study. The present study conducted experiments to examine these questions by using drug treatment and Western blot analysis and focused on pig oocyte meiotic maturation and cumulus expansion in vitro. The results revealed that ANP could inhibited FSH-induced pig oocyte maturation and cumulus expansion and prevent the full phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase in both oocytes and cumulus cells, and that these inhibitory effects could be mimicked by 8-Br-cyclic guanosine 5′-monophosphate (8-Br-cGMP), but blocked by a protein kinase G (PKG) inhibitor KT5823. Zaprinast, a cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase inhibitor, could enhance the inhibitory effect of ANP on oocyte maturation. A specific analogue of ANP, C-ANP-(4–23), which binds to the natriuretic peptide receptor-C (NPRC), had no effect in either FSH-induced or spontaneous oocyte maturation. Treatment with forskolin, a stimulator of adenylate cyclase, had a biphasic effect; 44 h treatment induced cumulus expansion but inhibited oocyte maturation while 2 h treatment induced maturation of cumulus-enclosed oocytes (CEOs). Both ANP and C-ANP-(4–23) could inhibit the effect of forskolin on CEO maturation, and these inhibitory effects of ANP/C-ANP-(4–23) could be blocked by preincubation with pertussis toxin (PT), consistent with mediation by a Gi protein(s) in the cumulus cells. All these results suggest that ANP is a multifunctional regulator of FSH and forskolin on pig CEO maturation by two signalling mechanisms: one is via a cGMP/PKG pathway, the other is via NPRC receptors in cumulus cells and the activation of the PT-sensitive Gi protein(s).

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C A Bagnell, Q Zhang, K Ohleth, M L Connor, B R Downey, B K Tsang, and L Ainsworth

ABSTRACT

Northern analysis and in-situ hybridization were used to follow the development of relaxin gene expression in the newly forming corpus luteum (CL) after ovulation and throughout luteal development. Alkaline phosphatase (AP) was used as a marker of theca-derived lutein cells and the relationship between AP-positive and relaxin mRNA-containing cells was assessed. Ovaries from prepubertal pigs treated with pregnant mares serum gonadotrophin (PMSG)/human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) were collected during the periovulatory period and at various times during 19 days after ovulation. In addition, CL from cyclic pigs on days 10 and 16 were used to monitor relaxin gene expression in small and large luteal cells. Northern analysis revealed that relaxin gene expression increased with CL development in the PMSG/hCG-treated pig, reaching maximal levels at around day 14 post-ovulation. Thereafter, as the CL regressed, the level of relaxin mRNA declined. In CL from cyclic pigs at day 10 of the cycle, only small luteal cells expressed relaxin mRNA. However, by day 16 of the cycle, large luteal cells were the source of relaxin gene expression. In-situ hybridization studies revealed that in the early CL (up to 30 h post-ovulation), the relaxin gene transcript was observed in cells along the margins of the CL and in the core of the infolding follicle wall corresponding to the AP-positive, luteinized theca cell layer. As luteinization progressed, the theca and granulosa cell layers could no longer be distinguished morphologically (from 54 h after ovulation until day 9). However, the pattern of relaxin hybridization persisted along the periphery in bands of cells penetrating the CL, and coincided with areas of AP staining, indicating that the theca lutein cells were the site of relaxin gene expression. At day 14, relaxin hybridization and AP staining were distributed throughout the luteal tissue. With CL regression both AP staining and relaxin hybridization declined. This pattern of relaxin hybridization in the CL of the gonadotrophin-primed pig was identical to that observed in cyclic pigs on days 10 and 16 of the cycle. These findings indicate that theca interna cells retain their ability to express the relaxin gene following ovulation and luteinization. In the early CL, the small theca-derived lutein cells are the source of relaxin transcript. However, as the CL becomes fully differentiated, the large granulosa-derived lutein cells acquire the capacity to express the relaxin message.

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B. Dattatreyamurty, R. A. Smith, S.-B. Zhang, T. A. Santa-Coloma, and L. E. Reichert Jr

ABSTRACT

A 240 kDa protein isolated from bovine calf testis has been shown to have properties characteristic of an FSH receptor. However, rat testis FSH receptor has, on the basis of cloning experiments, been found to have a much lower molecular mass of 75 kDa (peptide only). To examine this point, the size of the FSH receptor in membranes obtained from cultured Sertoli cells of immature rats was determined after polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under non-reducing conditions, followed by transfer to polyvinylidene difluoride membranes and direct identification of the FSH receptor by ligand blot analysis utilizing radioiodinated human FSH. In this system, the rat Sertoli cell membrane FSH receptor also showed a molecular mass of 240 kDa. Bovine testis contains LH and FSH receptors. We compared the sizes of FSH and LH receptors present in the same bovine testis membrane preparation by ligand blot analysis. The FSH receptor again showed a molecular mass of 240 kDa, whereas the LH receptor showed a molecular mass of 90 kDa. The latter value is similar to that deduced by cloning techniques (75 kDa, peptide only). The evidence seems to suggest that, whereas the molecular mass deduced for the LH receptor on the basis of its cDNA is similar to that of the mature membrane receptor, the size of the FSH membrane receptor is considerably different from that deduced on the basis of its cDNA, presumably as a result of post-translational processing. The marked difference in size between mature FSH (240 kDa) and LH (90 kDa) receptors may reflect significant structural differences of importance with regard to mechanisms of signal transduction.

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T Zhao, H Zhang, C Jin, F Qiu, Y Wu, and L Shi

Melatonin, synthesized primarily by the pineal gland, is a neuroendocrine hormone with high membrane permeability. The vascular effects of melatonin, including vasoconstriction and vasodilation, have been demonstrated in numerous studies. However, the mechanisms underlying these effects are not fully understood. Large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BKCa) channels are expressed broadly on smooth muscle cells and play an important role in vascular tone regulation. This study explored the mechanisms of myocyte BKCa channels and endothelial factors underlying the action of melatonin on the mesenteric arteries (MAs). Vascular contractility and patch-clamp studies were performed on myocytes of MAs from Wistar rats. Melatonin induced significant vasodilation on MAs. In the presence of N ω-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME), a potent endothelial oxide synthase (eNOS) inhibitor, melatonin elicited concentration-dependent relaxation, with lowered pIC50. The effect of melatonin was significantly attenuated in the presence of BKCa channel blocker iberiotoxin or MT1/MT2 receptor antagonist luzindole in both (+) l-NAME and (−) l-NAME groups. In the (+) l-NAME group, iberiotoxin caused a parallel rightward shift of the melatonin concentration–relaxation curve, with pIC50 lower than that of luzindole. Both inside-out and cell-attached patch-clamp recordings showed that melatonin significantly increased the open probability, mean open time and voltage sensitivity of BKCa channels. In a cell-attached patch-clamp configuration, the melatonin-induced enhancement of BKCa channel activity was significantly suppressed by luzindole. These findings indicate that in addition to the activation of eNOS, melatonin-induced vasorelaxation of MAs is partially attributable to its direct (passing through the cell membrane) and indirect (via MT1/MT2 receptors) activation of the BKCa channels on mesenteric arterial myocytes.

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Z G Song, X H Zhang, L X Zhu, H C Jiao, and H Lin

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are involved in the muscle wasting caused by trauma, inactivity, and stress. In the present study, three experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of GCs on the expression of genes related to muscle development in chickens. Broilers at 7 or 35 days of age were subjected to dexamethasone (DEX) treatment (2 mg/kg body mass (BM)) for 3 or 7 days. The expression levels of genes such as IGF1, IGF1 receptor, MSTN, WW domain containing E3 ubiquitin (UB) protein ligase 1, myogenic determining factor, and myogenic factor 5 were measured. The results showed that BM gain was significantly suppressed by DEX treatment. The plasma level of insulin was increased (P<0.05) by DEX treatment at feeding, whereas IGF1 was decreased (P<0.05). The expression of genes in the IGF1, myostatin, and UB–proteasome (UBP) pathways were altered by DEX treatment in age- and exposure time-related ways. These results suggest that GCs suppress IGF1 and upregulate myostatin and/or activated myostatin and the UBP pathway, which might be the source of the effect of GCs on muscle development.

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Kathryn L Auld, Stephen P Berasi, Yan Liu, Michael Cain, Ying Zhang, Christine Huard, Shoichi Fukayama, Jing Zhang, Sung Choe, Wenyan Zhong, Bheem M Bhat, Ramesh A Bhat, Eugene L Brown, and Robert V Martinez

Based on its homology to the estrogen receptor and its roles in osteoblast and chondrocyte differentiation, the orphan nuclear receptor estrogen-related receptor α (ERRα (ESRRA)) is an intriguing therapeutic target for osteoporosis and other bone diseases. The objective of this study was to better characterize the molecular mechanisms by which ERRα modulates osteoblastogenesis. Experiments from multiple systems demonstrated that ERRα modulates Wnt signaling, a crucial pathway for proper regulation of bone development. This was validated using a Wnt-luciferase reporter, where ERRα showed co-activator-dependent (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1α, PGC-1α) stimulatory effects. Interestingly, knockdown of ERR α expression also enhanced WNT signaling. In combination, these data indicated that ERRα could serve to either activate or repress Wnt signaling depending on the presence or absence of its co-activator PGC-1α. The observed Wnt pathway modulation was cell intrinsic and did not alter β-catenin nuclear translocation but was dependent on DNA binding of ERRα. We also found that expression of active ERRα correlated with Wnt pathway effects on osteoblastic differentiation in two cell types, consistent with a role for ERRα in modulating the Wnt pathway. In conclusion, this work identifies ERRα, in conjunction with co-activators such as PGC-1α, as a new regulator of the Wnt-signaling pathway during osteoblast differentiation, through a cell-intrinsic mechanism not affecting β-catenin nuclear translocation.

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W Lei, T Hirose, L-X Zhang, H Adachi, M J Spinella, E Dmitrovsky, and A M Jetten

ABSTRACT

We have cloned a cDNA encoding the full-length coding region of the human homologue of the germ cell nuclear factor (GCNF)/retinoid receptor-related testis-associated receptor (RTR), from a human testis cDNA library. The amino acid sequence of human GCNF/RTR is highly homologous to that of the mouse GCNF/RTR. The largest difference between the two homologues is a 15 amino acid deletion in the human GCNF/RTR at amino acid 47. The GCNF/RTR gene was localized on human chromosome 9. Northern blot analysis using poly(A)+ RNA from different human tissues showed that GCNF/RTR mRNA is most abundantly expressed in the testis. GCNF/RTR was also highly expressed in embryonic stem cells and embryonal carcinoma cells but repressed in its differentiated derivatives. Induction of differentiation of mouse embryonal carcinoma F9 cells and human embryonal carcinoma NTERA-2 clone Dl (NT2/D1) cells by all-trans retinoic acid was accompanied by a down-regulation of GCNF/RTR. Our observations suggest that GCNF/RTR plays a role in the control of gene expression in early embryogenesis and during spermatogenesis.

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E J Gold, X Zhang, A M Wheatley, S L Mellor, M Cranfield, G P Risbridger, N P Groome, and J S Fleming

The mRNA expression of two activin growth factor subunits (βA- and βC-activin), activin receptor subunits (ActRIIA, ActRIIB) and the activin-binding protein follistatin, and peptide expression of βA-activin and βC-activin subunits, were examined in regenerating rat liver after partial hepatectomy (PHx). Liver samples were collected from adult, male Sprague–Dawley rats, 12–240 h (n=3–5 rats per time point) after PHx or from sham-operated controls at the same time points. Hepatocyte mitosis and apoptosis were assessed histologically and by in situ cell death detection. RT and PCR were used to assess relative gene expression. βA- and βC-activin peptide immunoreactivity was assessed in liver and serum samples by western blotting, whereas cellular expression was investigated by immunohistochemistry, using specific monoclonal antibodies. βA- and βC-activin mRNA dropped to < 50% of sham control values 12 h after PHx and remained at this level until 168 h post-PHx, when βA-activin expression increased to three times sham control values and βC-activin mRNA returned to pre-PHx levels. A peak in follistatin expression was observed 24–48 h post-PHx, coincident with an increase in hepatocyte mitosis. No changes were observed in ActRIIA mRNA, whereas ActRIIB expression paralleled that of βA-activin mRNA. βC-activin immunoreactive homo- and heterodimers were observed in regenerating liver and serum. Mitotic hepatocytes frequently contained βC-activin immunoreactivity, whereas apoptotic hepatocytes were often immunoreactive for βA-activin. We conclude that βA- and βC-activin subunit proteins are autocrine growth regulators in regenerating liver and when expressed independently lead to hepatocyte apoptosis or mitosis in a subset of hepatocytes.