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Ying Li, Chun Ye, Peng Shi, Xiao-Ju Zou, Rui Xiao, Yuan-Ying Gong and Ya-Ping Zhang

The growth hormone (GH) gene family represents an erratic and complex evolutionary pattern, involving many evolutionary events, such as multiple gene duplications, positive selection, the birth-and-death process and gene conversions. In the present study, we cloned and sequenced GH-like genes from three species of New World monkeys (NWM). Phylogenetic analysis strongly suggest monophyly for NWM GH-like genes with respect to those of Old World monkeys (OWM) and hominoids, indicating that independent gene duplications have occurred in NWM GH-like genes. There are three main clusters of genes in putatively functional NWM GH-like genes, according to our gene tree. Comparison of the ratios of nonsynonymous and synonymous substitutions revealed that these three clusters of genes evolved under different kinds of selective pressures. Detailed analysis of the evolution of pseudogenes showed that the evolutionary pattern of this gene family in platyrrhines is in agreement with the so-called birth-and-death process.

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Shen Gao, Hua Wang, Peng Lee, Jonathan Melamed, Caihong X Li, Fahao Zhang, Hong Wu, Liran Zhou and Zhengxin Wang

Androgen receptor (AR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that mediates the action of androgens and is essential for the growth, function, and cell differentiation of the prostate gland. Here, we demonstrated that the prostate apoptosis response factor-4 (par-4) functions as a novel AR coactivator. Par-4 physically interacted with the DNA-binding domain of AR, enhanced AR interaction with DNA, and increased AR-dependent transcription. Par-4 enhanced the c-FLIP promoter activity and was recruited on to the c-FLIP gene in the presence of androgens, and the dominant-negative par-4 decreased c-FLIP expression. These results suggest that, in addition to its proapoptotic function, par-4 acts as a novel transcription cofactor for AR to target c-FLIP gene expression. In addition, we demonstrated that loss of c-FLIP expression was essential for castration-induced apoptosis in the prostate gland and that enhanced c-FLIP expression was associated with prostate cancer progression to the androgen-resistant stage. Our data shed light on a transcription-mediated mechanism for the effects of the AR pathway on cell survival and apoptosis.

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Peng Zhang, Sheng Wang, Liang Wang, Bing Chen Shan, Hui Zhang, Fan Yang, Zhi Qiang Zhou, Xiao Wang, Ye Yuan and You Jia Xu

Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a global health issue. Although a lack of estrogen is considered the major reason for postmenopausal osteoporosis, other factors might also contribute the etiology of the disease. In previous reports, we and others proposed that iron accumulation after menopause accelerates osteoporosis, and here, we genetically modified the expression of an endogenous hormone, hepcidin, to modulate iron status in a mouse model. Our results show that hepcidin levels negatively correlate with bone loss in both knockout and overexpression (with ovariectomy) murine models. In addition, iron overload enhances reactive oxygen species (ROS) activity and attenuates the functions of primary osteoblasts, while iron depletion could reverse this phenomenon through inhibiting the functions of primary osteoclasts. Therefore, our results provide more evidence of the ‘iron accumulation’ hypothesis, which suggests that high iron levels are risk factors for osteoporosis, and the ‘Huang’s hypothesis’ that hepcidin is a potential drug target for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

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Peng Xu, John J Gildea, Chi Zhang, Prasad Konkalmatt, Santiago Cuevas, Dora Bigler Wang, Hanh T Tran, Pedro A Jose and Robin A Felder

Gastrin, secreted by stomach G cells in response to ingested sodium, stimulates the renal cholecystokinin B receptor (CCKBR) to increase renal sodium excretion. It is not known how dietary sodium, independent of food, can increase gastrin secretion in human G cells. However, fenofibrate (FFB), a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPAR-α) agonist, increases gastrin secretion in rodents and several human gastrin-secreting cells, via a gastrin transcriptional promoter. We tested the following hypotheses: (1.) the sodium sensor in G cells plays a critical role in the sodium-mediated increase in gastrin expression/secretion, and (2.) dopamine, via the D1R and PPAR-α, is involved. Intact human stomach antrum and G cells were compared with human gastrin-secreting gastric and ovarian adenocarcinoma cells. When extra- or intracellular sodium was increased in human antrum, human G cells, and adenocarcinoma cells, gastrin mRNA and protein expression/secretion were increased. In human G cells, the PPAR-α agonist FFB increased gastrin protein expression that was blocked by GW6471, a PPAR-α antagonist, and LE300, a D1-like receptor antagonist. LE300 prevented the ability of FFB to increase gastrin protein expression in human G cells via the D1R, because the D5R, the other D1-like receptor, is not expressed in human G cells. Human G cells also express tyrosine hydroxylase and DOPA decarboxylase, enzymes needed to synthesize dopamine. G cells in the stomach may be the sodium sensor that stimulates gastrin secretion, which enables the kidney to eliminate acutely an oral sodium load. Dopamine, via the D1R, by interacting with PPAR-α, is involved in this process.

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Juan Liu, Xiaocen Kong, Long Wang, Hanmei Qi, Wenjuan Di, Xiao Zhang, Lin Wu, Xia Chen, Jing Yu, Juanmin Zha, Shan Lv, Aisen Zhang, Peng Cheng, Miao Hu, Yujie Li, Jianhua Bi, Yan Li, Fang Hu, Yi Zhong, Yong Xu and Guoxian Ding

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) increases energy expenditure and is an attractive therapeutic target for obesity. 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), an amplifier of local glucocorticoid activity, has been shown to modulate white adipose tissue (WAT) metabolism and function. In this study, we investigated the roles of 11β-HSD1 in regulating BAT function. We observed a significant increase in the expression of BAT-specific genes, including UCP1, Cidea, Cox7a1, and Cox8b, in BVT.2733 (a selective inhibitor of 11β-HSD1)-treated and 11β-HSD1-deficient primary brown adipocytes of mice. By contrast, a remarkable decrease in BAT-specific gene expression was detected in brown adipocytes when 11β-HSD1 was overexpressed, which effect was reversed by BVT.2733 treatment. Consistent with the in vitro results, expression of a range of genes related to brown fat function in high-fat diet-fed mice treated with BVT.2733. Our results indicate that 11β-HSD1 acts as a vital regulator that controls the expression of genes related to brown fat function and as such may become a potential target in preventing obesity.