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MJ Haas, D Reinacher, JP Li, NC Wong and AD Mooradian

Serum apolipoprotein A(1) (apoA(1)) concentration is inversely correlated with the risk of premature atherosclerosis. Serum apoA(1) concentrations are regulated, in part, at the transcriptional level. ApoA(1) mRNA is synthesized primarily in the liver and small intestine, under the direction of a number of signaling molecules and tissue-specific regulatory elements. Previously, we demonstrated that extracellular acidosis suppresses apoA(1) mRNA levels at the level of transcription. Here we demonstrate that intracellular acidosis, in the absence of extracellular pH changes, represses apoA(1) promoter activity. Repression occurs through a pH responsive element (pH-RE) located within the apoA(1) gene promoter. Acidosis increases the specific DNA binding activity of a putative repressor protein within the immediate 5'-flanking region of the apoA(1) gene. The cis-element that binds the putative repressor protein contains a negative thyroid hormone response element (nTRE) located 3' and adjacent to the apoA(1) TATA box. Mutation of the nTRE/pH-RE abrogates protein binding and alters the activity of reporter genes controlled by this element. Repression by acidosis did not require de novo mRNA and protein synthesis. Inhibition of tyrosine kinase activity and diacylglycerol-stimulated protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways with tyrophostin A47 and phorbol myristate acetate, respectively, did not affect the repression of apoA(1) promoter activity with acidosis. These results suggest that transcriptional repression of the apoA(1) gene by alterations in ambient pH is associated with enhanced DNA binding activity of a repressor protein, through a mechanism which appears to be independent of de novo mRNA and protein synthesis, tyrosine kinase activity, or PKC activation.

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S Park, W Lee, KH You, H Kim, JM Suh, HK Chung, M Shong and OY Kwon

This study was performed to evaluate the effects of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) on phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase type IIgamma (PIPKIIgamma) gene expression in the thyrocytes of FRTL-5 cells. Although PIPKIIgamma mRNA was expressed constantly in the absence of added TSH, its expression increased remarkably in the presence of 10(-9) M TSH. This increase started within 6 h of the addition of TSH, and reached a maximum at 8 h. The mRNA expression properties of PIPKIIgamma in the cells were identified using inhibitors. Actinomycin D blocked PIPKIIgamma transcription strongly, while cycloheximide did not. In an experiment using 5,6-dichlo-1-beta-d -ribofuranosylbenzimidaxole, the half-life of PIPKIIgamma mRNA was approximately 6 h in the presence or absence of TSH, and it was not affected by the stability of the PIPKIIgamma mRNA. The effects of TSH on PIPKIIgamma gene expression were specific, and other growth factors examined (transferrin, insulin and hydrocortisone) did not alter its expression. It is possible that the mechanism of PIPKIIgamma gene expression is involved in the permissive effect of the TSH-cAMP cascade proper. Our results indicate, for the first time, that the expression of PIPKIIgamma is regulated transcriptionally by TSH in thyrocytes.

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H Tabuchi, Y Furuichi and C Miyamoto

ABSTRACT

To investigate the nuclear signalling pathway induced by endothelin (ET) isopeptides, we have established permanent Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines, CHO-ETA/fos-lacZ and CHO-ETB/fos-lacZ, that produce both a c-fos-β-galactosidase fusion protein and either the type A or the type B human ET receptor. These cell lines permitted a colorimetric measurement of c-fos expression, which was induced by the signal transduction system with ET receptors and ET isopeptides. We found that the ET-1-dependent c-fos expression was so efficient that it could respond to low concentrations (even a physiological concentration) of ET-1. For example, CHO-ETA/fos-lacZ and CHO-ETB/fos-lacZ responded to ET concentrations of 5×10−9 m and 5×10−13 m respectively. Using this highly sensitive system, the H-7 sensitive protein kinase was found to be involved in signal transduction mediated by ETA, and also partly in the ETB-mediated pathway. These lines of evidence suggest that c-fos expression occurs through at least two different pathways, depending on the concentration of ET in plasma.

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J M Gunnersen, P J Roche, G W Tregear and R J Crawford

ABSTRACT

Relaxin is a peptide hormone which is produced in human reproductive tissues including the ovary and prostate gland. Little is known of the molecular events regulating relaxin gene transcription. We have studied this question using gene transfer of relaxin promoter/reporter gene constructs into a relaxin-expressing cell line. A number of human cell lines expressed relaxin as detected by reverse transcription-PCR. In one of these lines, the prostate adenocarcinoma cell line LNCaP.FGC, relaxin mRNA was also detected by Northern blot analysis. The DNA sequences of the proximal 5′-flanking regions (∼900 nucleotides) of the two human relaxin genes, HI and H2, were determined. Deletion constructs containing portions of the 5′-flanking regions of HI and H2 linked to the bacterial chloramphenicol acetyl transferase reporter gene were prepared. The expression of the reporter gene constructs was analysed in the LNCaP.FGC cell line and the results of these transient transfection assays have led to the identification of positive and negative regulatory regions within the 5′-flanking DNA. A difference in activity of the H1 and H2 gene promoters in this prostate cell line was observed, with the H2 promoter being more active. This situation may mimic that occurring in vivo since the relaxin secreted from the prostate gland into seminal fluid is the product of the H2 gene.

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P. S. Wright, C. Lenney and D. M. Carlson

ABSTRACT

Proline-rich proteins (PRPs) constitute a group of unusual salivary proteins encoded by tissue-specific multigene families which can be dramatically induced (20- to 70-fold) in vivo in rats, mice and hamsters by treatment with the β-agonist isoproterenol. Addition of dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP) or forskolin to hamster parotid gland primary cultures resulted in a large increase (15- to 30-fold) in PRP mRNA levels. The same time-course and levels of induction of PRP mRNA by dbcAMP and isoproterenol were found in primary cultures, indicating that both effectors act through the same mechanism. Induction by isoproterenol, but not by dbcAMP or forskolin, was blocked by the β-antagonist propranolol. Incorporation of [3H]proline into PRPs was stimulated in primary cultures by all three effectors. The greatest increase in proline incorporation was in the [3H]PRPs recovered in the culture medium of induced cells. These studies demonstrate that cAMP or agents which increase intracellular cAMP levels increase PRP gene expression in primary cultures of parotid glands. Pretreatment of the cells with cycloheximide blocked the induction of PRP mRNAs which indicates that the synthesis of a trans-acting factor may be necessary for transcriptional activation of the PRP genes. α-Amylase mRNA, another tissue-specific gene product, was not significantly affected by cycloheximide treatment.

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B Enberg, A Hulthén, C Möller, G Norstedt and S M Francis

ABSTRACT

The mechanism by which GH transmits a signal to the nucleus via its membrane-bound receptor is unknown. To study this process, Buffalo rat liver (BRL), rat hepatoma (FAO), human hepatoma (HepG2) and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines were transfected with GH receptor cDNA, and stable clones expressing GH receptor mRNA and protein were selected. From previous in vivo studies it is known that GH regulates the expression of the rat hepatic serine protease inhibitor (SPI) 2.1 gene at the transcriptional level. However, in all the cell lines tested, SPI gene expression was less than 0·2% of that measured in rat liver, and GH did not affect the expression of the endogenous SPI gene in GH receptor-expressing cells.

A 45 bp GH-responsive element (GHRE) has previously been defined in the SPI 2.1 gene. A construct containing six repeats of this GHRE was assembled with the thymidine kinase promoter and a chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) reporter gene. Transient transfection of this reporter gene resulted in GH stimulation of CAT activity in all GH receptor-transfected cell lines. A 33-fold induction was measured in the GH receptor-expressing BRL cells. Induction of CAT activity was observed after 8 h of GH treatment in the BRL-GHR638 cell line. Stable BRL cell lines expressing GH receptors with carboxy-terminal truncations (GHR380 and GHR454) did not show increased CAT activity on GH stimulation. This suggests that more than half of the intracellular domain of the GH receptor is required to activate transcription of the SPI 2.1 gene.

It is concluded that the use of GH receptor-expressing cell lines in combination with the GH-regulated reporter system described here provides a good model for studying intracellular signalling after GH stimulation.

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K Yang, S G Matthews and J R G Challis

ABSTRACT

To examine the role of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11β-HSD1) in the control of glucocorticoid actions in the ovine pituitary during development, we have sought developmental changes in the distribution and the level of 11β-HSD1 mRNA by in situ hybridization. In the pars distalis, 11β-HSD1 mRNA was present by day 60; its amount did not change significantly until term (days 145–147) when it increased dramatically. The level of 11β-HSD1 mRNA increased further during the postnatal period. In contrast, 11β-HSD1 mRNA in the pars intermedia was not detectable until day 135; it increased in amount at days 140–143, but did not change significantly thereafter through to adulthood.

We have also measured levels of both dehydrogenase and reductase activities of 11β-HSD1 in the pars distalis of fetal sheep at day 140 and term, and of postnatal sheep at 1–2 months of age, to determine whether changes in 11β-HSD1 mRNA are reflected in the levels of enzyme activities. There were progressive increases in both dehydrogenase and reductase activities from day 140 to 1–2 months postnatally, although dehydrogenase activity was consistently higher than reductase activity.

Finally, we have determined the effect of short-term intrafetal cortisol infusion (5 μg/min for 12 h) on levels of pituitary 11β-HSD1 mRNA by in situ hybridization. There was no effect of cortisol infusion on 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression.

The present results demonstrate that 11β-HSD mRNA and enzyme activity in the pars distalis of fetal sheep increase dramatically at term when plasma levels of both ACTH and cortisol are elevated. This suggests that 11β-HSD1 may contribute to the proposed resetting of cortisol negative feedback within the fetal pituitary at that time.

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JD Graham, SM Hunt, N Tran and CL Clarke

The mammalian testis-determining gene Sry and the related Sox genes define a family of transcriptional regulators widely expressed during embryogenesis. Tightly controlled temporal profiles of expression are a feature of the Sox gene family and may be required for initiation of a cascade of gene expression, yet the molecular mechanisms that control Sox gene expression are unknown. We now show that human SOX4 is expressed in the normal breast and in breast cancer cells. In these cells SOX4 is a progesterone-regulated gene, the expression of which is increased by progestins, leading to a marked increase in SOX-mediated transcriptional activity. Treatment of T-47D breast cancer cells with the synthetic progestin ORG 2058 directly increased SOX4 transcription, resulting in a 4-fold increase in SOX4 mRNA levels within 4 h of treatment. No effect of ORG 2058 was noted on other SOX genes measured, nor were other hormone-regulated HMG box proteins detected in this system, suggesting that the observed ability of progestin to increase SOX mRNA expression was confined to SOX4. The increase in SOX4 transcription was reflected in increased SOX4 protein expression, as progestin treatment of T-47D cells transfected with a SOX-responsive reporter resulted in a marked increase in reporter gene expression. Progesterone is essential for normal development and differentiation of the female reproductive system, plays an essential role in regulating growth and differentiation of the mammary gland and is required for opposing the proliferative effects of estrogen in specific cell types. The detection of SOX4 expression in the normal and malignant breast and the demonstration that SOX4 expression is under progesterone control suggests that changes in SOX4 gene expression may play a role in commitment to the differentiated phenotype in the normal and malignant mammary gland.

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R Ivell, G Tillmann, H Wang, M Nicol, PM Stewart, B Bartlick, N Walther, JI Mason and SD Morley

Upregulation of the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) is implicated in the rapid synthesis and secretion of steroidogenic cells to produce steroids in response to stimulation by trophic hormones of the gonadal and stress axes. In the present study, we have assessed the kinetics of both StAR gene transcription and protein biosynthesis in primary cell cultures of bovine adrenocortical and ovarian theca cells, under conditions of acute stimulation by corticotrophin (ACTH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), respectively. In both cell systems, detectable upregulation of StAR gene transcription occurred within 1-2 h, reaching maxima at 4 h (theca cells) or 6 h (adrenocortical cells). mRNA levels returned rapidly to baseline, by 12 h or 24 h, respectively. Specific StAR protein levels were assessed by western blotting using a novel antibody raised against a bovine StAR peptide, and showed a similar fast upregulation, albeit delayed by 1-2 h compared with the mRNA. The response of the cultured theca cells was more acute than that of the adrenocortical cells, possibly reflecting the propensity of the LH receptor to desensitize rapidly, unlike the ACTH receptor. The primary bovine theca cell cultures were also used for fully homologous transfection studies using various deletion promoter-reporter constructs of the bovine StAR gene. Kinetic analysis of the results indicated that the acute transcriptional response resides within the proximal (-315 bp) promoter region, which includes two putative responsive elements for the steroidogenic factor-1. More distal promoter regions may be involved in modulating the specificity of expression by combining enhancer and inhibitory functions.

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M Montero, L Yon, S Kikuyama, S Dufour and H Vaudry

Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) belong to the same superfamily of regulatory neuropeptides and have both been characterized on the basis of their hypophysiotropic activities. This review describes the molecular evolution of the GHRH/PACAP gene family from urochordates to mammals and presents the hypothesis that the respective roles of GHRH and PACAP in the control of GH secretion are totally inverted in phylogenetically distant groups of vertebrates. In mammals, GHRH and PACAP originate from distinct precursors whereas, in all submammalian taxa investigated so far, including birds, amphibians and fish, a single precursor encompasses a GHRH-like peptide and PACAP. In mammals, GHRH-containing neurons are confined to the infundibular and dorsomedial nuclei of the hypothalamus while PACAP-producing neurons are widely distributed in hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic areas. In fish, both GHRH- and PACAP-immunoreactive neurons are restricted to the diencephalon and directly innervate the adenohypophysis. In mammals and birds, GHRH plays a predominant role in the control of GH secretion. In amphibians, both GHRH and PACAP are potent stimulators of GH release. In fish, PACAP strongly activates GH release whereas GHRH has little or no effect on GH secretion. The GHRH/PACAP family of peptides thus provides a unique model in which to investigate the structural and functional facets of evolution.