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V Laudet

From a database containing the published nuclear hormone receptor (NR) sequences I constructed an alignment of the C, D and E domains of these molecules. Using this alignment, I have performed tree reconstruction using both distance matrix and parsimony analysis. The robustness of each branch was estimated using bootstrap resampling methods. The trees constructed by these two methods gave congruent topologies. From these analyses I defined six NR subfamilies: (i) a large one clustering thyroid hormone receptors (TRs), retinoic acid receptors (RARs), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), vitamin D receptors (VDRs) and ecdysone receptors (EcRs) as well as numerous orphan receptors such as RORs or Rev-erbs; (ii) one containing retinoid X receptors (RXRs) together with COUP, HNF4, tailless, TR2 and TR4 orphan receptors; (iii) one containing steroid receptors; (iv) one containing the NGFIB orphan receptors; (v) one containing FTZ-F1 orphan receptors; and finally (vi) one containing to date only one gene, the GCNF1 orphan receptor. The relationships between the six subfamilies are not known except for subfamilies I and IV which appear to be related. Interestingly, most of the liganded receptors appear to be derived when compared with orphan receptors. This suggests that the ligand-binding ability of NRs has been gained by orphan receptors during the course of evolution to give rise to the presently known receptors. The distribution into six subfamilies correlates with the known abilities of the various NRs to bind to DNA as homo- or heterodimers. For example, receptors heterodimerizing efficiently with RXR belong to the first or the fourth subfamilies. I suggest that the ability to heterodimerize evolved once, just before the separation of subfamilies I and IV and that the first NR was able to bind to DNA as a homodimer. From the study of NR sequences existing in vertebrates, arthropods and nematodes, I define two major steps of NR diversification: one that took place very early, probably during the multicellularization event leading to all the metazoan phyla, and a second occurring later on, corresponding to the advent of vertebrates. Finally, I show that in vertebrate species the various groups of NRs accumulated mutations at very different rates.

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PL Bardet, B Horard, M Robinson-Rechavi, V Laudet, and JM Vanacker

We cloned the cDNAs corresponding to three oestrogen receptors (ERs) in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Sequence analysis and phylogenetic studies demonstrated that two of these genes, ER beta.1 and ER beta.2, arose from duplication of the original ER beta in many species of the fish phylum, whereas ER alpha is unique. Zebrafish ERs behaved as oestrogen-dependent transcription factors in transactivation assays. However, their reactivity to various oestrogen modulators was different compared with that of mouse ERs. ER mRNA expression during zebrafish development is restricted to distinct time periods, as observed by RNase protection assays. ER beta.2 is initially expressed as maternally transmitted RNA, until 6 h after fertilization, when expression disappears. Between 6 and 48 h after fertilization, no ER expression could be observed. After 48 h after fertilization, all ERs, but predominantly ER alpha, began to be expressed. We conclude that oestrogen signal transduction can operate during zebrafish development only within discrete time windows.

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B Horard, A Castet, P-L Bardet, V Laudet, V Cavailles, and J-M Vanacker

The estrogen-receptor-related (ERR) receptors are orphan members of the nuclear receptor superfamily that bind to their specific DNA target sites as homodimers. However, it has not been shown whether this mode of binding is required for the transcriptional activation they drive. We here show that heterodimerization can also occur between these receptors. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the unique amphioxus ortholog of ERR genes (AmphiERR) is expressed as two isoforms differing by an in-frame insertion. While the short isoform behaves like its mammalian counterparts, the long isoform (AmphiERR(L)) displays divergent transcriptional properties according to the target site to which it binds. Indeed, AmphiERR(L) binds as a monomer but does not activate transcription through the SF1 response element (SFRE). On the contrary, this isoform binds as a homodimer and activates transcription through the classical estrogen-response element. Our results strongly suggest that dimerization is required for transactivation exerted by the ERR receptors.

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B Horard, B Rayet, G Triqueneaux, V Laudet, F Delaunay, and JM Vanacker

Circadian gene expression has been demonstrated in many tissues and involves both positive and negative regulatory loops. The potential interferences of circadian rhythmicity with other well-known biologic rhythms, such as the ovarian cycle, at least in part controlled by estrogens, has not been questioned. The estrogen receptor-related receptor (ERR)alpha is an orphan nuclear receptor that is widely expressed in estrogen-responsive tissues such as liver, uterus and bone. In addition, expression of the ERRalpha gene has been proposed to be transcriptionally controlled by estrogens in the uterus. Here we show that the expression of ERRalpha displays a circadian rhythmicity in liver, bone and uterus. This is in contrast to other uterine estrogen-regulated genes. Analysis of clock/clock mutant mice shows that ERRalpha is an output gene of the circadian clock oscillator. The expression of clock-control genes, such as Bmal1 and Rev-erbalpha, also displays diurnal oscillations in the uterus, but not in bone. In this tissue, however, Per2 displayed a rhythmic expression, altogether suggesting unconventional loops in the regulation of circadian rhythm in bone.

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S Chopin-Delannoy, S Thenot, F Delaunay, E Buisine, A Begue, M Duterque-Coquillaud, and V Laudet

The orphan receptors Rev-erbalpha and Rev-erbbeta are members of the nuclear receptors superfamily and act as transcriptional repressors. Rev-erbalpha is expressed with a robust circadian rhythm and is involved in liver metabolism through repression of the ApoA1 gene, but no role has been yet defined for Rev-erbbeta. To gain better understanding of their function and mode of action, we characterized the proteins encoded by these two genes. Both Rev-erbalpha and Rev-erbbeta proteins were nuclear when transiently transfected in COS-1 cells. The major nuclear location signal (NLS) of Rev-erbalpha is in the amino-terminal region of the protein. Fusion of green fluorescent protein (GFP) to the amino terminus of Rev-erbalpha deletion mutants showed that the NLS is located within a 53 amino acid segment of the DNA binding domain (DBD). The homologous region of Rev-erbbeta fused to GFP also targeted the fusion protein to the nucleus, suggesting that the location of this NLS is conserved among all the Rev-erb group members. Interestingly, members of the phylogenetically closest nuclear orphan receptor group (ROR), which exhibit 58% amino acid identity with Rev-erb in the DBD, do not have their NLS located within the DBD. GFP/DBD. RORalpha or GFP/DBD.RORbeta remained cytoplasmic, in contrast to GFP/DBD. Rev-erb fusion proteins. Alignment of human Rev-erb and ROR DBD amino acid sequences predicted that the two basic residues, K167 and R168, located just upstream from the second zinc finger, could play a critical part in the nuclear localization of Rev-erb proteins. Substitution of these two residues with those found in ROR, in the GFP/DBD. Rev-erb context, resulted in cytoplasmic proteins. In contrast, the reverse mutation of the GFP/DBD. RORalpha towards the Rev-erbalpha residues targeted the fusion protein to the nucleus. Our data demonstrate that Rev-erb proteins contain a functional NLS in the DBD. Its location is unusual within the nuclear receptor superfamily and suggests that Rev-erb orphan receptors control their intracellular localization via a mechanism different from that of other nuclear receptors.

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O Marchand, R Safi, H Escriva, E Van Rompaey, P Prunet, and V Laudet

Thyroid hormones are pleiotropic factors important for many developmental and physiological functions in vertebrates. Their effects are mediated by two specific receptors (TRalpha and TRbeta) which are members of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. To clarify the function of these receptors, our laboratory has started a comparative study of their role in teleost fish. This type of approach has been hampered by the isolation of specific clones for each fish species studied. In this report, we describe an efficient reverse transcription/PCR procedure that allows the isolation of large fragments corresponding to TRalpha and TRbeta of a wide range of teleost fish. Phylogenetic analysis of these receptors revealed a placement consistent with their origin, sequences from teleost fish being clearly monophyletic for both TRalpha and TRbeta. Interestingly, this approach allowed us to isolate (from tilapia and salmon) several new TRalpha or TRbeta isoforms resulting from alternative splicing. These isoforms correspond to expressed transcripts and thus may have an important physiological function. In addition, we isolated a cDNA encoding TRbeta in the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) encoding a functional thyroid hormone receptor which binds specific thyroid hormone response elements and regulates transcription in response to thyroid hormones.

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NR Bury, A Sturm, P Le Rouzic, C Lethimonier, B Ducouret, Y Guiguen, M Robinson-Rechavi, V Laudet, ME Rafestin-Oblin, and P Prunet

Using RT-PCR with degenerated primers followed by screening of a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) intestinal cDNA library, we have isolated from the rainbow trout a new corticosteroid receptor which shows high sequence homology with other glucocorticoid receptors (GRs), but is clearly different from the previous trout GR (named rtGR1). Phylogenetic analysis of these two sequences and other GRs known in mammals, amphibians and fishes indicate that the GR duplication is probably common to most teleost fish. The open reading frame of this new trout GR (named rtGR2) encodes a protein of 669 amino acids and in vitro translation produces a protein of 80 kDa that appears clearly different from rtGR1 protein (88 kDa). Using rtGR2 cDNA as a probe, a 7.3 kb transcript was observed in various tIssues suggesting that this gene would lead to expression of a steroid receptor. In vitro studies were used to further characterize this new corticosteroid receptor. Binding studies with recombinant rtGR1 and rtGR2 proteins show that the two receptors have a similar affinity for dexamethasone (GR1 K(d)=5.05+/-0.45 nM; GR2 K(d)=3.04+/-0.79 nM). Co-transfection of an rtGR1 or rtGR2 expression vector into CHO-K1 or COS-7 cells, along with a reporter plasmid containing multiple consensus glucocorticoid response elements, shows that both clones are able to induce transcriptional activity in the presence of cortisol and dexamethasone. Moreover, at 10(-)(6 )M 11-deoxycortisol and corticosterone partially induced rtGR2 transactivation activity but were without effect on rtGR1. The other major teleost reproductive hormones, as well as a number of their precursors or breakdown products of these and corticosteroid hormones, were without major effects on either receptor. Interestingly, rtGR2 transactivational activity was induced at far lower concentrations of dexamethasone or cortisol (cortisol EC(50)=0.72+/-0.87 nM) compared with rtGR1 (cortisol EC(50)=46+/-12 nM). Similarly, even though RU486 inhibited transactivation activity in both rtGR1 and rtGR2, rtGR1 was more sensitive to this GR antagonist. Altogether, these results indicate that these two GR sequences encode for two functionally distinct GRs acting as ligand-inducible transcription factors in rainbow trout.

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D Bouton, H Escriva, R L de Mendonça, C Glineur, B Bertin, C Noël, M Robinson-Rechavi, A de Groot, J Cornette, V Laudet, and R J Pierce

Retinoid X receptors (RXR) are members of the nuclear receptor superfamily of ligand-activated transcription factors that have been characterized in a wide variety of metazoan phyla. They act as heterodimer partners of other nuclear receptors, and in vertebrates also activate transcription as homodimers in the presence of a ligand, 9-cis retinoic acid. In order to test the hypothesis that retinoic acid signaling pathways involving RXRs are present in the Lophotrochozoa, we have sought to isolate conserved members of this family from the platyhelminth parasite Schistosoma mansoni and its intermediate host, the mollusk Biomphalaria glabrata. Here we report that an RXR ortholog from B. glabrata (BgRXR) is better conserved, compared with mouse RXRα, both in the DNA-binding domain (89% identity) and in the ligand-binding domain (LBD) (81% identity), than are arthropod homologs. In EMSA, BgRXR binds to the direct repeat response element DR1 as a homodimer or as a heterodimer with mammalian RARα, LXR, FXR or PPARα. When transfected alone into mammalian cell lines, BgRXR transactivated transcription of a reporter gene from the Apo-A1 promoter in the presence of 9-cis retinoic acid or DHA. Constructs with the Gal4 DNA binding domain fused to the hinge and LBDs of BgRXR were used to show that ligand-dependent activation of transcription by BgRXR required its intact AF-2 activation domain, and that the LBD can form homodimers. Finally, the binding of 9-cis retinoic acid preferentially protected the LBD of BgRXR from degradation by trypsin in a proteolysis protection assay. Our results show that BgRXR binds and is activated by retinoids and suggest that retinoid signaling pathways are conserved in the Lophotrochozoa. The nucleotide sequence reported in this paper has been submitted to the GenBank/EBI Data Bank with accession no. AY048663.