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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.

Free access

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.

Free access

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.

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


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.