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P Barrett, A MacDonald, R Helliwell, G Davidson, and P Morgan


A new member of the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily has been isolated from an ovine genomic library with a probe generated by the application of the PCR technique, using cDNA synthesized on a mRNA template isolated from the ovine pars tuberalis. This genomic clone encodes a novel receptor of 325 amino acids with seven transmembrane domains. These domains share homology with other members of this family, but the best homology is with the recently cloned human MC-1 (50% in the transmembrane domains) and MC-3 (69% in the transmembrane domains) MSH receptors and the human ACTH (42% in the transmembrane domains) receptor. When this receptor was expressed in Cos7 cells, it was able to bind a potent analogue of α-MSH, [Nle4, d-Phe7]-α-MSH (NDP-MSH), with high affinity. This binding could be displaced by pro-opiomelanocortinderived and related peptides, with the order of potency NDP-MSH>α-MSH=ACTH>β-MSH and with no effect of γ-MSH, δ-MSH or β-endorphin. The expressed receptor was demonstrated to be functionally coupled to the adenylate cyclase second messenger pathway, with α-MSH, β-MSH and ACTH stimulating cyclic AMP production. The amount of the mRNA for this receptor was found to be very low. The tissue distribution of this receptor could only be observed using the reverse transcription-PCR technique and the receptor was found to be present in a number of somatic tissues. These data indicate that this is a new and distinct member of the melanocortin receptor family.

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Matei Bolborea, Gisela Helfer, Francis J P Ebling, and Perry Barrett

Tanycytes play multiple roles in hypothalamic functions, including sensing peripheral nutrients and metabolic hormones, regulating neurosecretion and mediating seasonal cycles of reproduction and metabolic physiology. This last function reflects the expression of TSH receptors in tanycytes, which detect photoperiod-regulated changes in TSH secretion from the neighbouring pars tuberalis. The present overall aim was to determine the signal transduction pathway by which TSH signals in tanycytes. Expression of the TSH receptor in tanycytes of 10-day-old Sprague Dawley rats was observed by in situ hybridisation. Primary ependymal cell cultures prepared from 10-day-old rats were found by immunohistochemistry to express vimentin but not GFAP and by PCR to express mRNA for Dio2, Gpr50, Darpp-32 and Tsh receptors that are characteristic of tanycytes. Treatment of primary tanycyte/ependymal cultures with TSH (100 IU/l) increased cAMP as assessed by ELISA and induced a cAMP-independent increase in the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 as assessed by western blot analysis. Furthermore, TSH (100 IU/l) stimulated a 2.17-fold increase in Dio2 mRNA expression. We conclude that TSH signal transduction in cultured tanycytes signals via Gαs to increase cAMP and via an alternative G protein to increase phosphorylation of ERK1/2.

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P. J. Morgan, M. H. Hastings, M. Thompson, P. Barrett, W. Lawson, and G. Davidson


The effect of aluminium fluoride (AlF4 ) has been studied on inositol phosphate accumulation, calcium mobilization, cyclic AMP production and [2-125I]iodomelatonin binding in ovine pars tuberalis cells. These cells have high-affinity receptors for, and respond to, melatonin through inhibition of forskolin-stimulated adenylate cyclase. In the presence of 10 mm LiCl, AlF4 stimulated the net accumulation of inositol monophosphate and inositol bisphosphate. Consistent with these findings, AlF4 increased intracellular calcium; although this response was attenuated in calcium-depleted medium, indicating that the calcium response comprises both intracellular and extracellular components. Melatonin was ineffective on either basal or AlF4 -stimulated turnover of inositol phosphates. In concordance with the inositol phosphate response, melatonin had no effect on either the AlF4 -stimulated or the basal calcium levels. AlF4 blocked the increase in cyclic AMP stimulation by l μm forskolin, being as effective as melatonin, achieving approximately 90% inhibition. AlF4 also attenuated the binding of [2-125I]iodomelatonin to ovine pars tuberalis membranes by 15%. At the concentration used, these results are consistent with the interpretation that AlF4 activates many G protein-mediated responses, and thus imply that the inhibitory pathway for cyclic AMP predominates over the stimulatory arm, whereas there can only be a stimulatory pathway linked to phosphoinositide metabolism in ovine pars tuberalis cells.

Free access

N Hoggard, M Cruickshank, K M Moar, P Barrett, S Bashir, and J D B Miller

Inhibin βB (INHBB; coding for the activin βB subunit) has previously been identified in both human and rodent adipose tissue and using Taqman real-time PCR with specific primers we confirm the expression of INHBB mRNA in rodent adipose tissue. Expression of INHBB in murine epididymal adipose tissue was higher than in any of the other tissues studied and appears to be regulated by changes in energy balance and leptin. It was increased fourfold in the epididymal fat depot of ob/ob mice compared with the same fat depot in lean mice. The i.p. administration of leptin in obese ob/ob mice decreases the expression of INHBB. In human adipose tissue, INHBB is reduced by weight loss. In keeping with this, we demonstrate that INHBB expression in murine adipose tissue is decreased in fasting and increased upon refeeding. We show that INHBB is expressed in both the mature adipocyte and the stromal vascular fraction of adipose tissue. INHBB increases with the differentiation of pre-adipocytes into mature adipocytes in the 3T3-L1 cell line. In differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes, where receptors to activin have been previously reported, insulin increases the expression of INHBB, while dexamethasone decreases the expression of INHBB when compared with untreated control cells. Taken together, these results suggest that the regulation of INHBB expression in adipose tissue may play a physiological role in energy balance or the insulin insensitivity associated with obesity.

Open access

Jo E Lewis, John M Brameld, Phil Hill, Dana Wilson, Perry Barrett, Francis J P Ebling, and Preeti H Jethwa

The Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) survives winter by decreasing food intake and catabolizing abdominal fat reserves, resulting in a sustained, profound loss of body weight. Hypothalamic tanycytes are pivotal for this process. In these cells, short-winter photoperiods upregulate deiodinase 3, an enzyme that regulates thyroid hormone availability, and downregulate genes encoding components of retinoic acid (RA) uptake and signaling. The aim of the current studies was to identify mechanisms by which seasonal changes in thyroid hormone and RA signaling from tanycytes might ultimately regulate appetite and energy expenditure. proVGF is one of the most abundant peptides in the mammalian brain, and studies have suggested a role for VGF-derived peptides in the photoperiodic regulation of body weight in the Siberian hamster. In silico studies identified possible thyroid and vitamin D response elements in the VGF promoter. Using the human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line, we demonstrate that RA increases endogenous VGF expression (P<0.05) and VGF promoter activity (P<0.0001). Similarly, treatment with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 increased endogenous VGF mRNA expression (P<0.05) and VGF promoter activity (P<0.0001), whereas triiodothyronine (T3) decreased both (P<0.01 and P<0.0001). Finally, intra-hypothalamic administration of T3 blocked the short day-induced increase in VGF expression in the dorsomedial posterior arcuate nucleus of Siberian hamsters. Thus, we conclude that VGF expression is a likely target of photoperiod-induced changes in tanycyte-derived signals and is potentially a regulator of seasonal changes in appetite and energy expenditure.