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H Kobayashi, Y Okada, T Asahina, J Gotoh and T Terao

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a severe complication arising from controlled stimulation treatment. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has recently emerged as an important factor which may be responsible for the hyperpermeability seen in OHSS. The purpose of the present study was to investigate and compare the mechanisms by which ascites in patients with OHSS and ovarian carcinoma induce increases in vascular permeability in an in vitro assay and an in vivo animal experiment. We found 8-fold lower VEGF levels in ascites from patients with OHSS than in those from patients with ovarian carcinoma. Although VEGF is produced by the ovaries, it is not necessarily the factor responsible for hyperpermeability. We also demonstrated that the vascular hyperpermeability produced by OHSS ascites was not abolished by specific neutralizing anti-VEGF antibodies, and that not all of the VEGF found in the ascites fluid is biologically active. Moreover, our results strongly suggest that the vascular permeability produced by OHSS ascites may depend on activation of the kallikrein-kinin system. Possible evidence for this phenomenon was obtained by demonstrating that the hyperpermeability caused by the ascites could be blocked by Trasylol (known to inhibit bradykinin synthesis) and potentiated by captopril (a kininase II inhibitor). Taken together, the results suggest that, although VEGF is found in ascites fluid from patients with OHSS, it is unlikely that the cause of OHSS involves VEGF production by the ovaries. The kallikrein-kinin system may be more important in the hyperpermeability seen in OHSS.

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T Kitano, K Takamune, T Kobayashi, Y Nagahama and SI Abe

The phenotypic sex of many teleost fishes including flounders can be experimentally altered by treating embryos or larvae with varied temperatures or sex-steroid hormones. To analyse the sex determination mechanism, especially the role of cytochrome P450 aromatase (P450arom), an enzyme that catalyses the conversion of androgens to estrogens, in temperature-dependent gonadal sex differentiation in the Japanese flounder, we generated two populations of larvae, both having XX (genetic females) but each growing up to display all phenotypic females or males, by rearing the larvae at normal (18 degrees C) or high (27 degrees C) water temperatures from days 30 to 100 after hatching respectively. The larvae (XX) were produced artificially by mating normal females (XX) with gynogenetic diploid males (XX) which had been sex-reversed to phenotypic males by 17alpha-methyltestosterone. To study the role of P450arom in sex determination in the flounder, we first isolated a P450arom cDNA containing the complete open reading frame from the ovary. RT-PCR showed that P450arom mRNA was highly expressed in the ovary and spleen but weakly in the testis and brain. Semi-quantitative analyses of P450arom mRNA in gonads during sex differentiation showed that there was no difference in the levels of P450arom mRNA between the female and male groups when the gonad was sexually indifferent (day 50 after hatching). However, after the initiation of sex differentiation (day 60), the mRNA levels increased rapidly in the female group, whereas they decreased slightly in the male group. Similarly, estradiol-17beta levels rose remarkably in the female group, yet remained constant in the male group. These results suggest that induction of sex reversal of genetically female larvae to phenotypic males by rearing them at a high water temperature caused a suppression of P450arom gene expression. Furthermore, we suggest that the maintenance of P450arom mRNA at very low levels is a prerequisite for testicular differentiation, while the increased levels are indispensable for ovarian differentiation.

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JQ Jiang, DS Wang, B Senthilkumaran, T Kobayashi, HK Kobayashi, A Yamaguchi, W Ge, G Young and Y Nagahama

The Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11beta-HSD2) cDNAs were isolated from their respective testes cDNA libraries. The cDNAs predict two peptides of 436 and 406 amino acid residues that share about 42% homology with mammalian 11beta-HSD type 2 proteins. Analysis of the tissue distribution pattern by RT-PCR reveals that 11beta-HSD2 is expressed in a wide variety of tissues in tilapia, with higher expression in kidney and gill of both sexes, and with the highest expression in testis. 11beta-Dehydrogenase activity of the eel 11beta-HSD2 was confirmed by demonstrating the conversion of cortisol to cortisone by the recombinant protein after transient expression of this cDNA clone in COS-1 cells. Bands of approximately 2.7 and approximately 3.8 Kb were detected in Northern blot of eel and tilapia testes respectively, which is consistent with the cloned cDNA sizes of the two species. Northern blot analysis also revealed that the expression of the eel testis 11beta-HSD2 gene could be induced by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection, implying a role of 11beta-HSD2 in hCG-induced 11-ketotestosterone production and spermatogenesis in the Japanese eel.

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K. Ichikawa, K. Hashizume, Y. Nishii, T. Takeda, M. Kobayashi, S. Suzuki and T. Yamada

ABSTRACT

Human thyroid hormone receptor (c-erb A protein) produced by Escherichia coli expression vector plasmid was purified sequentially using polyethylenimine precipitation of DNA, hydroxylapatite column chromatography, ammonium sulphate precipitation, Sephacryl S-300 gel filtration and mono Q-Sepharose column chromatography. These column procedures resulted in 41.3-fold purification of 3,5,3′-tri-iodo-l-thyronine (T3) binding activity over the initial E. coli extract. Purified protein as well as crude preparation showed high-affinity binding to T3. The c-erb A protein enriched by column purification was further purified by electroelution after electrophoresis. Rabbit antibody against the c-erb A protein was prepared and used for the Western blotting analysis. The antibody recognized c-erb A protein but not the bacterial proteins in crude E. coli extract. When partially purified rat hepatic nuclear thyroid hormone receptor was analysed, a 56kDa receptor was specifically recognized by the antibody.

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X T Chang, T Kobayashi, H Kajiura, M Nakamura and Y Nagahama

ABSTRACT

A cDNA clone encoding the complete tilapia (a teleost fish, Oreochromis niloticus) cytochrome P450 aromatase (P450arom) was isolated from an ovarian follicle cDNA library. The deduced amino acid sequence (522 amino acid residues) had 72·2% and 59·5% homology with rainbow trout and catfish P450arom respectively, and about 50% homology with mammalian and avian P450arom. Expression of this cDNA in COS-7 cells produced a protein that converted exogenous testosterone to estrogens. Northern blots using a tilapia P450arom cDNA fragment and Western blots using an antiserum against a tilapia P450arom polypeptide fragment revealed a single P450arom mRNA (2·6 kb) and a single protein (59 kDa) in tilapia ovarian tissue respectively. These analyses also revealed that the levels of both P450arom mRNA and protein were low in early vitellogenic follicles, increased in midvitellogenic follicles, and declined to non-detectable levels in post-vitellogenic follicles. Changes in the ability of follicles to convert exogenous testosterone to estrogens (aromatase activity) were similar to those of P450arom mRNA and protein. These observations indicated that the capacity of tilapia ovarian follicles to synthesize estradiol-17β is closely related to the contents of P450arom mRNA and protein within them.

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S Kobayashi, H Shibata, I Kurihara, K Yokota, N Suda, I Saito and T Saruta

Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factors (COUP-TFs) are orphan receptors involved in regulation of neurogenesis and organogenesis. COUP-TF family members are generally considered to be transcriptional repressors and several mechanisms have been proposed to underlie this activity. To explore novel transcriptional coregulators for COUP-TFs, we used the COUP-TFI as bait in a yeast two-hybrid screen of an adrenocortical adenoma cDNA library. We have identified Ubc9, a class E2 conjugating enzyme of small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO)-1 as a COUP-TFI corepressor. Ubc9 interacts with COUP-TFI in yeast and in glutathione S-transferase pulldown and coimmunoprecipitation assays. Fluorescence imaging studies show that both Ubc9 and COUP-TFI are colocalized in the nuclei of transfected COS-1 cells. The C-terminal region of Ubc9 encoding amino acids 59-158 interacts with the C-terminus of COUP-TFI encoding amino acids 383-403, in which transcriptional repression domains are located. Mammalian one-hybrid assays utilizing a variety of Ubc9 fragments fused to Gal4 DNA-binding domain show that a Ubc9 fragment encoding amino acids 1-89 contains autonomous transferrable repression domain. Transfection of Ubc9 into COS-1 cells markedly enhances transcriptional repression by Gal4 DNA-binding domain-fused to COUP-TFI(155-423), but not by Gal4-COUP-TFI(155-388) which lacks a repressor domain. Coexpression of a C-terminal deletion mutant of Ubc9(1-58), which fails to interact with COUP-TFI, but retains a transcriptional repression domain, has no effect on Gal4-COUP-TFI-mediated repression activity. These findings indicate that interaction of Ubc9 with COUP-TFI is crucial for the corepressor function of Ubc9. Overexpression of Ubc9 similarly enhances COUP-TFI-dependent repression of the promoter activity of the bovine CYP17 gene encoding steroid 17alpha-hydroxylase. In addition, the C93S mutant of Ubc9, which abrogates SUMO-1 conjugation activity, continues to function as a COUP-TFI corepressor. Our studies indicate that Ubc9 functions as a novel COUP-TFI corepressor, the function of which is distinct from its SUMO-1 conjugating enzyme activity.

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W Ge, T Miura, H Kobayashi, R E Peter and Y Nagahama

ABSTRACT

We have cloned a full length cDNA coding for activin βB subunit from the goldfish ovary. Sequence analysis of the goldfish activin βB shows that this peptide is extremely conserved across vertebrates. The mature region of goldfish activin βB has 93 and 98% amino acid identity with that of human and zebrafish βB subunit respectively. The identity of the cloned goldfish activin βB was further confirmed by expressing the protein in the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells followed by detection of the specific activity of activin in the culture medium using F5-5 cell assay. mRNA of goldfish activin βB is expressed in a variety of goldfish tissues including ovary, testis, brain, pituitary, kidney and liver, suggesting a wide range of physiological roles for activin in the goldfish.

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H Watanabe, E Takahashi, M Kobayashi, M Goto, A Krust, P Chambon and T Iguchi

Recent studies have revealed that hundreds of genes in the uterus are activated by estrogen. Their expression profiles differ over time and doses and it is not clear whether all these genes are directly regulated by estrogen via the estrogen receptor. To select the genes that may be regulated by estrogen, we treated mice with several doses of estrogen and searched for those genes whose dose–response expression pattern mirrored the uterine growth pattern. Among those genes, we found that the dose-dependent expression of the adrenomedullin (ADM) gene correlated well with the uterotrophic effect of estrogen. ADM expression is induced early after estrogen administration and is restricted to the endometrial stroma. The spatiotemporal gene expression pattern of ADM was similar to that of receptor-modifying protein 3 (RAMP3). RAMP3 is known to modify calcitonin gene-related receptor (CRLR) so that it can then serve as an ADM receptor. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays indicated that the estrogen receptor binds directly to the ADM promoter region and RAMP3 intron after estrogen administration. It was also shown that neither the ADM nor RAMP3 gene could be activated in estrogen receptor-α-null mouse. Although uterine ADM expression has been reported to occur in the myometrium, our observations indicate that estrogen-induced ADM is also expressed in the uterine stroma and that such variable, spatiotemporally regulated ADM expression contributes to a wider range of biological effects than previously expected.

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H Watanabe, A Suzuki, M Kobayashi, DB Lubahn, H Handa and T Iguchi

Administration of physiological and non-physiological estrogens during pregnancy or after birth is known to have adverse effects on the development of the reproductive tract and other organs. Although it is believed that both estrogens have similar effects on gene expression, this view has not been tested systematically. To compare the effects of physiological (estradiol; E2) and non-physiological (diethylstilbestrol; DES) estrogens, we used DNA microarray analysis to examine the uterine gene expression patterns induced by the two estrogens. Although E2 and DES induced many genes to respond in the same way, different groups of genes showed varying levels of maximal activities to each estrogen, resulting in different dose-response patterns. Thus, each estrogen has a distinct effect on uterine gene expression. The genes were classified into clusters according to their dose-responses to the two estrogens. Of the eight clusters, only two correlated well with the uterotropic effect of different doses of E2. One of these clusters contained genes that were upregulated by E2, which included genes encoding several stress proteins and transcription factors. The other cluster contained genes that were downregulated by E2, including genes related to metabolism, transcription and detoxification processes. The expression of these genes in estrogen receptor-deficient mice was not affected by E2 treatment, indicating that these genes are affected by the E2-bound estrogen receptor. Thus, of the many genes that are affected by estrogen, it was suggested that only a small number are directly involved in the uterotropic effects of estrogen treatment.

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S Miyagawa, A Suzuki, Y Katsu, M Kobayashi, M Goto, H Handa, H Watanabe and T Iguchi

Developmental exposure to a synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol (DES), induces carcinogenesis in human and laboratory animals. In mice, neonatal DES treatment induces persistent proliferation and keratinization of the vaginal epithelium, even in the absence of the ovaries, resulting in cancerous lesions later in life. To understand the mechanisms underlying this persistent cell proliferation and differentiation, we characterized the gene expression patterns in the neonatally DES-exposed mouse vagina using DNA microarray and real-time quantitative RT-PCR. We found that genes related to cellular signaling, which are candidates for mediating the persistent proliferation and differentiation, were altered, and genes related to the immune system were decreased in the neonatally DES-exposed mouse vagina. We also noted high expression of interleukin-1 (IL-1)-related genes accompanied by phosphorylation of JNK1. In addition, expression IGF-I and its binding proteins was modulated and led to phosphorylation of IGF-I receptor and Akt, which is one of the downstream factors of IGF-I signaling. This led us to characterize the expression as well as the phosphorylation status of IL-1 and IGF-I signaling pathway components which may activate the phosphorylation cascade in the vagina of mice exposed neonatally to DES. These findings give insight into persistent activation in the vagina of mice exposed neonatally to DES.