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Open access

Lisa Rice, Charlotte E Waters, Jennifer Eccles, Helen Garside, Paula Sommer, Paul Kay, Fiona H Blackhall, Leo Zeef, Brian Telfer, Ian Stratford, Rob Clarke, Dave Singh, Adam Stevens, Anne White, and David W Ray

Glucocorticoid (GC) receptors (GRs) have profound anti-survival effects on human small cell lung cancer (SCLC). To explore the basis of these effects, protein partners for GRs were sought using a yeast two-hybrid screen. We discovered a novel gene, FAM33A, subsequently identified as a SKA1 partner and involved in mitosis, and so renamed Ska2. We produced an anti-peptide antibody that specifically recognized full-length human SKA2 to measure expression in human cell lines and tissues. There was a wide variation in expression across multiple cell lines, but none was detected in the liver cell line HepG2. A xenograft model of human SCLC had intense staining and archival tissue revealed SKA2 in several human lung and breast tumours. SKA2 was found in the cytoplasm, where it co-localized with GR, but nuclear expression of SKA2 was seen in breast tumours. SKA2 overexpression increased GC transactivation in HepG2 cells while SKA2 knockdown in A549 human lung epithelial cells decreased transactivation and prevented dexamethasone inhibition of proliferation. GC treatment decreased SKA2 protein levels in A549 cells, as did Staurosporine, phorbol ester and trichostatin A; all agents that inhibit cell proliferation. Overexpression of SKA2 potentiated the proliferative response to IGF-I exposure, and knockdown with shRNA caused cells to arrest in mitosis. SKA2 has recently been identified in HeLa S3 cells as part of a complex, which is critical for spindle checkpoint silencing and exit from mitosis. Our new data show involvement in cell proliferation and GC signalling, with implications for understanding how GCs impact on cell fate.

Open access

D Pugazhendhi, K A Watson, S Mills, N Botting, G S Pope, and P D Darbre

The phytoestrogens genistein, daidzein and the daidzein metabolite equol have been shown previously to possess oestrogen agonist activity. However, following consumption of soya diets, they are found in the body not only as aglycones but also as metabolites conjugated at their 4′- and 7-hydroxyl groups with sulphate. This paper describes the effects of monosulphation on the oestrogen agonist properties of these three phytoestrogens in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells in terms of their relative ability to compete with [3H]oestradiol for binding to oestrogen receptor (ER), to induce a stably transfected oestrogen-responsive reporter gene (ERE-CAT) and to stimulate cell growth. In no case did sulphation abolish activity. The 4′-sulphation of genistein reduced oestrogen agonist activity to a small extent in whole-cell assays but increased the relative binding affinity to ER. The 7-sulphation of genistein, and also of equol, reduced oestrogen agonist activity substantially in all assays. By contrast, the position of monosulphation of daidzein acted in an opposing manner on oestrogen agonist activity. Sulphation at the 4′-position of daidzein resulted in a modest reduction in oestrogen agonist activity but sulphation of daidzein at the 7-position resulted in an increase in oestrogen agonist activity. Molecular modelling and docking studies suggested that the inverse effects of sulphation could be explained by the binding of daidzein into the ligand-binding domain of the ER in the opposite orientation compared with genistein and equol. This is the first report of sulphation enhancing activity of an isoflavone and inverse effects of sulphation between individual phytoestrogens.

Open access

Helen L Jeanes, Caroline Tabor, Darcey Black, Antwan Ederveen, and Gillian A Gray

Oestrogen protects the heart from ischaemic injury. The current study aims to characterise two novel oestrogen receptor (ER) ligands, an ERα agonist ERA-45 and an ERβ antagonist ERB-88, and then use them to investigate the roles of ERα and ERβ in mediating the cardioprotection by E from ischaemia–reperfusion injury in the rat. The ER ligands were characterised by gene transactivation assay using ER-transfected Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells and in bioavailability studies in vivo. Female rats (n=48) were ovariectomised and implanted with 17β-oestradiol (17βE2) releasing or placebo pellets. ERA-45, ERB-88 or vehicle was administered for 5 days prior to ischaemia–reperfusion studies. Necrosis, neutrophil infiltration (myeloperoxidase activity) and oxidant stress production (electron paramagnetic resonance) from the area-at-risk were measured to assess reperfusion injury. The ERα agonist ERA-45 showed more than 35-fold selectivity for ERα compared with ERβ gene transactivation. In vitro, the ERβ antagonist ERB-88 inhibited transactivation by 17βE2 via ERβ with 46-fold selectivity relative to inhibition via ERα. In vivo, 17βE2 significantly reduced neutrophil infiltration, oxidant stress and necrosis following ischaemia and reperfusion. Cardioprotection by 17βE2 was not inhibited by ERB-88 but was completely reproduced by ERA-45. In conclusion, protection of the rat heart after ischaemia–reperfusion by 17βE2 is achieved through the reduction of cardiomyocyte death, neutrophil infiltration and oxygen-free radical availability.The results of this study indicate that these effects are primarily mediated via activation of ERα.

Open access

I J Bujalska, L L Gathercole, J W Tomlinson, C Darimont, J Ermolieff, A N Fanjul, P A Rejto, and P M Stewart

Glucocorticoid excess increases fat mass, preferentially within omental depots; yet circulating cortisol concentrations are normal in most patients with metabolic syndrome (MS). At a pre-receptor level, 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) activates cortisol from cortisone locally within adipose tissue, and inhibition of 11β-HSD1 in liver and adipose tissue has been proposed as a novel therapy to treat MS by reducing hepatic glucose output and adiposity. Using a transformed human subcutaneous preadipocyte cell line (Chub-S7) and human primary preadipocytes, we have defined the role of glucocorticoids and 11β-HSD1 in regulating adipose tissue differentiation. Human cells were differentiated with 1.0 μM cortisol (F), or cortisone (E) with or without 100 nM of a highly selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitor PF-877423. 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression increased across adipocyte differentiation (P<0.001, n=4), which was paralleled by an increase in 11β-HSD1 oxo-reductase activity (from nil on day 0 to 5.9±1.9 pmol/mg per h on day 16, P<0.01, n=7). Cortisone enhanced adipocyte differentiation; fatty acid-binding protein 4 expression increased 312-fold (P<0.001) and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 47-fold (P<0.001) versus controls. This was abolished by co-incubation with PF-877423. In addition, cellular lipid content decreased significantly. These findings were confirmed in the primary cultures of human subcutaneous preadipocytes. The increase in 11β-HSD1 mRNA expression and activity is essential for the induction of human adipogenesis. Blocking adipogenesis with a novel and specific 11β-HSD1 inhibitor may represent a novel approach to treat obesity in patients with MS.

Open access

A McMaster, T Chambers, Q-J Meng, S Grundy, A S I Loudon, R Donn, and D W Ray

There is increasing evidence that temporal factors are important in allowing cells to gain additional information from external factors, such as hormones and cytokines. We sought to discover how cell responses to glucocorticoids develop over time, and how the response kinetics vary according to ligand structure and concentration, and hence have developed a continuous gene transcription measurement system, based on an interleukin-6 (IL-6) luciferase reporter gene. We measured the time to maximal response, maximal response and integrated response, and have compared these results with a conventional, end point glucocorticoid bioassay. We studied natural glucocorticoids (corticosterone and cortisol), synthetic glucocorticoids (dexamethasone) and glucocorticoid precursors with weak, or absent bioactivity. We found a close correlation between half maximal effective concentration (EC50) for maximal response, and for integrated response, but with consistently higher EC50 for the latter. There was no relation between the concentration of ligand and the time to maximal response. A comparison between conventional end point assays and real-time measurement showed similar effects for dexamethasone and hydrocortisone, with a less effective inhibition of IL-6 seen with corticosterone. We profiled the activity of precursor steroids, and found pregnenolone, progesterone, 21-hydroxyprogesterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone all to be ineffective in the real-time assay, but in contrast, progesterone and 21-hydroxyprogesterone showed an IL-6 inhibitory activity in the end point assay. Taken together, our data show how ligand concentration can alter the amplitude of glucocorticoid response, and also that a comparison between real-time and end point assays reveals an unexpected diversity of the function of glucocorticoid precursor steroids, with implications for human disorders associated with their overproduction.

Open access

Anne-Marie O'Carroll, Gillian M Howell, Emma M Roberts, and Stephen J Lolait

Arginine vasopressin (AVP) and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) have both been implicated in modulating insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells. In the present study, we investigated the insulin-secreting activities of AVP and CRH in wild-type and AVP VIb receptor knockout mice. Both neuropeptides stimulated insulin secretion from isolated mouse pancreatic islets. The response of islets to CRH was increased fourfold by concomitant incubation with a subthreshold dose of AVP that alone did not stimulate insulin secretion. Activation of the endogenously expressed M3 receptor by the cholinergic agonist carbachol also potentiated CRH-induced insulin secretion, indicating that the phenomenon may be pathway specific (i.e. Ca2 +-phospholipase C) rather than agonist specific. The protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors Ro-31-8425 and bisindolylmaleimide I attenuated the potentiating effect of AVP on CRH-stimulated insulin secretion and blocked AVP-stimulated insulin secretion. A possible interaction between the PKC and protein kinase A pathways was also investigated. The phorbol ester phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) stimulated insulin secretion, while the addition of both PMA and CRH enhanced insulin secretion over that measured with either PMA or CRH alone. Additionally, no AVP potentiation of CRH-stimulated insulin secretion was observed upon incubation in Ca2 +-free Krebs–Ringer buffer. Taken together, the present study suggests a possible synergism between AVP and CRH to release insulin from pancreatic β-cells that relies at least in part on activation of the PKC signaling pathway and is dependent on extracellular Ca2 +. This is the first example of a possible interplay between the AVP and CRH systems outside of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.

Open access

L Nicol, M-O Faure, J R McNeilly, J Fontaine, C Taragnat, and A S McNeilly

We have shown previously that, in sheep primary pituitary cells, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP)-4 inhibits FSHβ mRNA expression and FSH release. In contrast, in mouse LβT2 gonadotrophs, others have shown a stimulatory effect of BMPs on basal or activin-stimulated FSHβ promoter-driven transcription. As a species comparison with our previous results, we used LβT2 cells to investigate the effects of BMP-4 on gonadotrophin mRNA and secretion modulated by activin and GnRH. BMP-4 alone had no effect on FSH production, but enhanced the activin+GnRH-induced stimulation of FSHβ mRNA and FSH secretion, without any effect on follistatin mRNA. BMP-4 reduced LHβ mRNA up-regulation in response to GnRH (±activin) and decreased GnRH receptor expression, which would favour FSH, rather than LH, synthesis and secretion. In contrast to sheep pituitary gonadotrophs, which express only BMP receptor types IA (BMPRIA) and II (BMPRII), LβT2 cells also express BMPRIB. Smad1/5 phosphorylation induced by BMP-4, indicating activation of BMP signalling, was the same whether BMP-4 was used alone or combined with activin±GnRH. We hypothesized that activin and/or GnRH pathways may be modulated by BMP-4, but neither the activin-stimulated phosphorylation of Smad2/3 nor the GnRH-induced ERK1/2 or cAMP response element-binding phosphorylation were modified. However, the GnRH-induced activation of p38 MAPK was decreased by BMP-4. This was associated with increased FSHβ mRNA levels and FSH secretion, but decreased LHβ mRNA levels. These results confirm 1. BMPs as important modulators of activin and/or GnRH-stimulated gonadotrophin synthesis and release and 2. important species differences in these effects, which could relate to differences in BMP receptor expression in gonadotrophs.

Open access

Ping Ye, Christopher J Kenyon, Scott M MacKenzie, Katherine Nichol, Jonathan R Seckl, Robert Fraser, John M C Connell, and Eleanor Davies

Using a highly sensitive quantitative RT-PCR method for the measurement of CYP11B1 (11β-hydroxylase) and CYP11B2 (aldosterone synthase) mRNAs, we previously demonstrated that CYP11B2 expression in the central nervous system (CNS) is subject to regulation by dietary sodium. We have now quantified the expression of these genes in the CNS of male Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats in response to systemic ACTH infusion, dexamethasone infusion, and to adrenalectomy. CYP11B1 and CYP11B2 mRNA levels were measured in total RNA isolated from the adrenal gland and discrete brain regions using real-time quantitative RT-PCR. ACTH infusion (40 ng/day for 7 days, N=8) significantly increased CYP11B1 mRNA in the adrenal gland, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex compared with animals infused with vehicle only. ACTH infusion decreased adrenal CYP11B2 expression but increased expression in all of the CNS regions except the cortex. Dexamethasone (10 μg/day for 7 days, N=8) reduced adrenal CYP11B1 mRNA compared with control animals but had no significant effect on either gene's expression in the CNS. Adrenalectomy (N=6 per group) significantly increased CYP11B1 expression in the hippocampus and hypothalamus and raised CYP11B2 expression in the cerebellum relative to sham-operated animals. This study confirms the transcription of CYP11B1 and CYP11B2 throughout the CNS and demonstrates that gene transcription is subject to differential regulation by ACTH and circulating corticosteroid levels.

Open access

Ann R Finch, Kathleen R Sedgley, Christopher J Caunt, and Craig A McArdle

In heterologous expression systems, human GnRH receptors (hGnRHRs) are poorly expressed at the cell surface and this may reflect inefficient exit from the endoplasmic reticulum. Here, we have defined the proportion of GnRHRs at the cell surface using a novel assay based on adenoviral transduction with epitope-tagged GnRHRs followed by staining and semi-automated imaging. We find that in MCF7 (breast cancer) cells, the proportional cell surface expression (PCSE) of hGnRHRs is remarkably low (<1%), when compared with Xenopus laevis (X) GnRHRs (∼40%). This distinction is retained at comparable whole cell expression levels, and the hGnRHR PCSE is increased by addition of the XGnRHR C-tail (h.XGnRHR) or by a membrane-permeant pharmacological chaperone (IN3). The IN3 effect is concentration- and time-dependent and IN3 also enhances the hGnRHR-mediated (but not h.XGnRHR- or mouse GnRHR-mediated) stimulation of [3H]inositol phosphate accumulation and the hGnRHR-mediated reduction in cell number. We also find that the PCSE for hGnRHRs and h.XGnRHRs is low and is greatly increased by IN3 in two hormone-dependent cancer lines, but is higher and less sensitive to IN3 in a gonadotrope line. Finally, we show that the effect of IN3 on hGnRHR PCSE is not mimicked or blocked by two peptide antagonists although they do increase the PCSE for h.XGnRHRs, revealing that an antagonist-occupied cell surface GnRHR conformation can differ from that of the unoccupied receptor. The low PCSE of hGnRHRs and this novel peptide antagonist effect may be important for understanding GnRHR function in extrapituitary sites.

Open access

David O'Regan, Christopher J Kenyon, Jonathan R Seckl, and Megan C Holmes

Low birth weight in humans is predictive of hypertension in adult life. Although the mechanisms underlying this link remain unknown, fetal overexposure to glucocorticoids has been implicated. We previously showed that prenatal dexamethasone (DEX) exposure in the rat lowers birth weight and programmes adult hypertension. The current study aimed to further investigate the nature of this hypertension and to elucidate its origins. Unlike previous studies, we assessed offspring blood pressure (BP) with radiotelemetry, which is unaffected by stress artefacts of measurement. We show that prenatal DEX during the last week of pregnancy results in offspring of low birth weight (14% reduction) that have lower basal BP in adulthood (∼4–8 mmHg lower); with the commonly expected hypertensive phenotype only being noted when these offspring are subjected to even mild disturbance or a more severe stressor (up to 30 mmHg higher than controls). Moreover, DEX-treated offspring sustain their stress-induced hypertension for longer. Promotion of systemic catecholamine release (amphetamine) induced a significantly greater rise of BP in the DEX animals (77% increase) over that observed in the vehicle controls. Additionally, we demonstrate that the isolated mesenteric vasculature of DEX-treated offspring display greater sensitivity to noradrenaline and other vasoconstrictors. We therefore conclude that altered sympathetic responses mediate the stress-induced hypertension associated with prenatal DEX programming.