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Jian Ma, Xin He, Yan Cao, Kienan O’Dwyer, Katherine M Szigety, Yuan Wu, Buddha Gurung, Zijie Feng, Bryson W Katona and Xianxin Hua

Protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5), a symmetric arginine methyltransferase, regulates cell functions by influencing gene transcription through posttranslational modification of histones and non-histone proteins. PRMT5 interacts with multiple partners including menin, which controls beta cell homeostasis. However, the role of Prmt5 in pancreatic islets, particularly in beta cells, remains unclear. A mouse model with an islet-specific knockout (KO) of the Prmt5 gene was generated, and the influence of the Prmt5 excision on beta cells was investigated via morphologic and functional studies. Beta cell function was evaluated by glucose tolerance test (GTT) and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) test. Beta cell proliferation was evaluated by immunostaining. Gene expression change was determined by real-time qPCR. Molecular mechanisms were investigated in beta cells in vitro and in vivo in Prmt5 KO mice. The results show that islet-specific KO of Prmt5 reduced expression of the insulin gene and impaired glucose tolerance and GSIS in vivo. The mechanistic study indicated that PRMT5 is involved in the regulation of insulin gene transcription, likely via histone methylation-related chromatin remodeling. The reduced expression of insulin in beta cells in the Prmt5 KO mice may contribute to impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and deficient GSIS in the mouse model. These results will provide new insights into exploring novel strategies to treat diabetes caused by insulin insufficiency.

Open access

Tingting Yang, Min He, Hailiang Zhang, Paula Q Barrett and Changlong Hu

Aldosterone, which plays a key role in the regulation of blood pressure, is produced by zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells of the adrenal cortex. Exaggerated overproduction of aldosterone from ZG cells causes primary hyperaldosteronism. In ZG cells, calcium entry through voltage-gated calcium channels plays a central role in the regulation of aldosterone secretion. Previous studies in animal adrenals and human adrenal adrenocortical cell lines suggest that the T-type but not the L-type calcium channel activity drives aldosterone production. However, recent clinical studies show that somatic mutations in L-type calcium channels are the second most prevalent cause of aldosterone-producing adenoma. Our objective was to define the roles of T and L-type calcium channels in regulating aldosterone secretion from human adrenals. We find that human adrenal ZG cells mainly express T-type CaV3.2/3.3 and L-type CaV1.2/1.3 calcium channels. TTA-P2, a specific inhibitor of T-type calcium channel subtypes, reduced basal aldosterone secretion from acutely prepared slices of human adrenals. Surprisingly, nifedipine, the prototypic inhibitor of L-type calcium channels, also decreased basal aldosterone secretion, suggesting that L-type calcium channels are active under basal conditions. In addition, TTA-P2 or nifedipine also inhibited aldosterone secretion stimulated by angiotensin II- or elevations in extracellular K+. Remarkably, blockade of either L- or T-type calcium channels inhibits basal and stimulated aldosterone production to a similar extent. Low concentrations of TTA-P2 and nifedipine showed additive inhibitory effect on aldosterone secretion. We conclude that T- and L-type calcium channels play equally important roles in controlling aldosterone production from human adrenals.

Open access

Md Nurul Islam, Yuichiro Mita, Keisuke Maruyama, Ryota Tanida, Weidong Zhang, Hideyuki Sakoda and Masamitsu Nakazato

Ghrelin, a stomach-derived peptide, promotes feeding and growth hormone (GH) secretion. A recent study identified liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide 2 (LEAP2) as an endogenous inhibitor of ghrelin-induced GH secretion, but the effect of LEAP2 in the brain remained unknown. In this study, we showed that intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of LEAP2 to rats suppressed central ghrelin functions including Fos expression in the hypothalamic nuclei, promotion of food intake, blood glucose elevation, and body temperature reduction. LEAP2 did not inhibit neuropeptide Y (NPY)-induced food intake or des-acyl ghrelin-induced reduction in body temperature, indicating that the inhibitory effects of LEAP2 were specific for GHSR. Plasma LEAP2 levels varied according to feeding status and seemed to be dependent on the hepatic Leap2 expression. Furthermore, ghrelin suppressed the expression of hepatic Leap2 via AMPK activation. Together, these results reveal that LEAP2 inhibits central ghrelin functions and crosstalk between liver and stomach.

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Min Liu, Shuo Xie, Weiwei Liu, Jingjin Li, Chao Li, Wei Huang, Hexin Li, Jinghai Song and Hong Zhang

Obesity is a worldwide health problem. Semaphorins are involved in axonal guidance; however, the role of secretory semaphorin 3G (SEMA3G) in regulating adipocyte differentiation remains unclear. Microarray analysis showed that the SEMA3G gene was upregulated in an in vitro model of adipogenesis. In this study, SEMA3G was highly expressed in the white adipose tissue and liver. Analysis of 3T3-L1 cell and primary mouse preadipocyte differentiation showed that SEMA3G mRNA and protein levels were increased during the middle stage of cell development. In vitro experiments also showed that adipocyte differentiation was promoted by SEMA3G; however, SEMA3G inhibition using a recombinant lentiviral vector expressing a specific shRNA showed the opposite results. Mice were fed a chow or high-fat diet (HFD); knockdown of SEMA3G was found to inhibit weight gain, reduce fat mass in the tissues, prevent lipogenesis in the liver tissue, reduce insulin resistance and ameliorate glucose tolerance in HFD mice. Additionally, the effect of SEMA3G on HFD-induced obesity was activated through PI3K/Akt/GSK3β signaling in the adipose tissue and the AMPK/SREBP-1c pathway in the liver. Moreover, the plasma concentrations of SEMA3G and leptin were measured in 20 obese and 20 non-obese human subjects. Both proteins were increased in obese subjects, who also exhibited a lower level of adiponectin and presented with insulin resistance. In summary, we demonstrated that SEMA3G is an adipokine essential for adipogenesis, lipogenesis, and insulin resistance and is associated with obesity. SEMA3G inhibition may, therefore, be useful for treating diet-induced obesity and its complications.

Open access

Alyce M Martin, Emily W Sun and Damien J Keating

The homoeostatic regulation of metabolism is highly complex and involves multiple inputs from both the nervous and endocrine systems. The gut is the largest endocrine organ in our body and synthesises and secretes over 20 different hormones from enteroendocrine cells that are dispersed throughout the gut epithelium. These hormones include GLP-1, PYY, GIP, serotonin, and CCK, each of which play pivotal roles in maintaining energy balance and glucose homeostasis. Some are now the basis of several clinically used glucose-lowering and weight loss therapies. The environment in which these enteroendocrine cells exist is also complex, as they are exposed to numerous physiological inputs including ingested nutrients, circulating factors and metabolites produced from neighbouring gut microbiome. In this review, we examine the diverse means by which gut-derived hormones carry out their metabolic functions through their interactions with different metabolically important organs including the liver, pancreas, adipose tissue and brain. Furthermore, we discuss how nutrients and microbial metabolites affect gut hormone secretion and the mechanisms underlying these interactions.

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Olivier Dumortier, Gaia Fabris, Didier F Pisani, Virginie Casamento, Nadine Gautier, Charlotte Hinault, Patricia Lebrun, Christophe Duranton, Michel Tauc, Stéphane Dalle, Julie Kerr-Conte, François Pattou, Marc Prentki and Emmanuel Van Obberghen

Enhanced beta cell glycolytic and oxidative metabolism are necessary for glucose-induced insulin secretion. While several microRNAs modulate beta cell homeostasis, miR-375 stands out as it is highly expressed in beta cells where it regulates beta cell function, proliferation and differentiation. As glucose metabolism is central in all aspects of beta cell functioning, we investigated the role of miR-375 in this process using human and rat islets; the latter being an appropriate model for in-depth investigation. We used forced expression and repression of mR-375 in rat and human primary islet cells followed by analysis of insulin secretion and metabolism. Additionally, miR-375 expression and glucose-induced insulin secretion were compared in islets from rats at different developmental ages. We found that overexpressing of miR-375 in rat and human islet cells blunted insulin secretion in response to glucose but not to α-ketoisocaproate or KCl. Further, miR-375 reduced O2 consumption related to glycolysis and pyruvate metabolism, but not in response to α-ketoisocaproate. Concomitantly, lactate production was augmented suggesting that glucose-derived pyruvate is shifted away from mitochondria. Forced miR-375 expression in rat or human islets increased mRNA levels of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-4, but decreased those of pyruvate carboxylase and malate dehydrogenase1. Finally, reduced miR-375 expression was associated with maturation of fetal rat beta cells and acquisition of glucose-induced insulin secretion function. Altogether our findings identify miR-375 as an efficacious regulator of beta cell glucose metabolism and of insulin secretion, and could be determinant to functional beta cell developmental maturation.

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Mariana Rosolen Tavares, Simone Ferreira Lemes, Thais de Fante, Cristina Saenz de Miera, Isadora Carolina Betim Pavan, Rosangela Maria Neves Bezerra, Patricia Oliveira Prada, Marcio Alberto Torsoni, Carol Fuzeti Elias and Fernando Moreira Simabuco

The mTOR/S6Ks signaling is one of the intracellular pathways important for metabolic control, acting both peripherally and centrally. In the hypothalamus, mTOR/S6Ks axis mediates the action of leptin and insulin and can modulate the expression of neuropeptides. We analyzed the role of different S6Ks isoforms in the hypothalamic regulation of metabolism. We observed decreased food intake and decreased expression of agouti-related peptide (AgRP) following intracerebroventricular (icv) injections of adenoviral-mediated overexpression of three different S6Ks isoforms. Moreover, mice overexpressing p70-S6K1 in undefined periventricular hypothalamic neurons presented changes in glucose metabolism, as an increase in gluconeogenesis. To further evaluate the hypothalamic role of a less-studied S6K isoform, p54-S6K2, we used a Cre-LoxP approach to specifically overexpress it in AgRP neurons. Our findings demonstrate the potential participation of S6K2 in AgRP neurons regulating feeding behavior.

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Kenshiro Shikano, Eiko Iwakoshi-Ukena, Takaya Saito, Yuki Narimatsu, Atsuki Kadota, Megumi Furumitsu, George E Bentley, Lance J Kriegsfeld and Kazuyoshi Ukena

We recently discovered a novel gene encoding a small secretory protein, neurosecretory protein GL (NPGL), which stimulates feeding behavior in mice following acute administration. These findings suggest that dysregulation of NPGL contributes to obesity and metabolic disease. To explore this possibility, we investigated the impact of prolonged exposure to NPGL through 13 days of chronic intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) infusion and examined feeding behavior, body composition, expressions of lipid metabolic factors, respiratory metabolism, locomotor activity, and food preference. Under standard chow diet, NPGL increased white adipose tissue (WAT) mass without affecting feeding behavior and body mass. In contrast, when fed a high-calorie diet, NPGL stimulated feeding behavior and increased body mass concomitant with marked fat accumulation. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed that mRNA expressions for key enzymes and related factors involved in lipid metabolism were increased in WAT and liver. Likewise, analyses of respiratory metabolism and locomotor activity revealed that energy expenditure and locomotor activity were significantly decreased by NPGL. In contrast, selective feeding of macronutrients did not alter food preference in response to NPGL, although total calorie intake was increased. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that NPGL-containing cells produce galanin, a neuropeptide that stimulates food intake. Taken together, these results provide further support for NPGL as a novel regulator of fat deposition through changes in energy intake and locomotor activity.

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Diego Crespo, Moline Severino Lemos, Yu Ting Zhang, Diego Safian, Birgitta Norberg, Jan Bogerd and Rüdiger W Schulz

Changes in zebrafish testicular gene expression induced by follicle-stimulating hormone (Fsh) or anti-Mullerian hormone (Amh) suggested that Amh inhibition and Fsh stimulation of spermatogenesis involved up and downregulation, respectively, of prostaglandin (PG) signaling. We found that Sertoli cells contacting type A undifferentiated (Aund) and differentiating (Adiff) spermatogonia expressed a key enzyme of PG production (Ptgs2); previous work showed that Sertoli cells contacting Adiff and B spermatogonia and spermatocytes showed ptges3b expression, an enzyme catalyzing PGE2 production. In primary testis tissue cultures, PGE2, but not PGD2 or PGF, reduced the mitotic activity of Adiff and their development into B spermatogonia. Vice versa, inhibiting PG production increased the mitotic activity of Adiff and B spermatogonia. Studies with pharmacological PG receptor antagonists suggest that an Ep4 receptor mediates the inhibitory effects on the development of spermatogonia, and cell-sorting experiments indicated this receptor is expressed mainly by testicular somatic cells. Combined inhibition of PG and steroid production moreover reduced the mitotic activity of Aund spermatogonia and led to their partial depletion, suggesting that androgens (and/or other testicular steroids), supported by PGE2, otherwise prevent depletion of Aund. Androgens also decreased testicular PGE2 production, increased the transcript levels of the enzyme-catabolizing PGs and decreased PGE2 receptor ptger4b transcript levels. Also Fsh potentially reduced, independent of androgens, PGE2 production by decreasing ptges3b transcript levels. Taken together, our results indicate that PGE2, via Ep4 receptors, favors self-renewal in conjunction with androgens and, independent of Fsh and androgens, inhibits differentiating divisions of spermatogonia.

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Hong-Tao Zheng, Tao Fu, Hai-Yi Zhang, Zhen-Shan Yang, Zhan-Hong Zheng and Zeng-Ming Yang

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are essential for mouse embryo implantation and decidualization. Excess GCs are harmful for mouse embryo implantation and decidualization. 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases type I and II (Hsd11b1/Hsd11b2) are main enzymes for regulating local level of GCs. Hsd11b2 acts as the placental glucocorticoid barrier to protect the fetus from excessive exposure. Although effects of GCs on the fetus and placenta in late pregnancy have been extensively studied, the effects of these adrenal corticosteroids in early pregnancy are far less well defined. Therefore, we examined the expression, regulation and function of Hsd11b1/Hsd11b2 in mouse uterus during early pregnancy. We found that Hsd11b2 is highly expressed in endometrial stromal cells on days 3 and 4 of pregnancy and mainly upregulated by progesterone (P4). In both ovariectomized mice and cultured stromal cells, P4 significantly stimulates Hsd11b2 expression. P4 stimulation of Hsd11b2 is mainly mediated by the Ihh pathway. The uterine level of corticosterone (Cort) is regulated by Hsd11b2 during preimplantation. Embryo development and the number of inner cell mass cells are suppressed by Cort treatment. These results indicate that P4 should provide a low Cort environment for the development of preimplantation mouse embryos by promoting the expression of uterine Hsd11b2.