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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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S Viengchareun, H Bouzinba-Segard, J-P Laigneau, M-C Zennaro, P A Kelly, A Bado, M Lombès, and N Binart

The pituitary hormone prolactin (PRL) exerts pleiotropic effects, which are mediated by a membrane receptor (PRLR) present in numerous cell types including adipocytes. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) expresses uncoupling proteins (UCPs), involved in thermogenesis, but also secretes leptin, a key hormone involved in the control of body weight. To investigate PRL effects on BAT, we used the T37i brown adipose cell line, and demonstrated that PRLRs are expressed as a function of cell differentiation. Addition of PRL leads to activation of the JAK/STAT and MAP kinase signaling pathways, demonstrating that PRLRs are functional in these cells. Basal and catecholamine-induced UCP1 expression were not affected by PRL. However, PRL combined with insulin significantly increases leptin expression and release, indicating that PRL potentiates the stimulatory effect of insulin as revealed by the recruitment of insulin receptor substrates and the activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. To explore the in vivo physiological relevance of PRL action in BAT, we showed that leptin content was significantly increased in BAT of PRLR-null mice compared with wild-type mice, highlighting the involvement of PRL in the leptin secretion process. This study provides the first evidence for a functional link between PRL and energy balance via a cross-talk between insulin and PRL signaling pathways in brown adipocytes.