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Meng Guo, Yuna Li, Yan Wang, Zhenkun Li, Xiaohong Li, Peikun Zhao, Changlong Li, Jianyi Lv, Xin Liu, Xiaoyan Du and Zhenwen Chen

Recent studies raise the possibility that eukaryotic translation elongation factor 1 alpha (eEF1A) may play a role in metabolism. One isoform, eEF1A2, is specifically expressed in skeletal muscle, heart and brain. It regulates translation elongation and signal transduction. Nonetheless, eEF1A2’s function in skeletal muscle glucose metabolism remains unclear. In the present study, suppression subtractive hybridisation showed a decrease in Eef1a2 transcripts in the skeletal muscle of diabetic Mongolian gerbils. This was confirmed at mRNA and protein levels in hyperglycaemic gerbils, and in db/db and high-fat diet-fed mice. Further, this downregulation was independent of Eef1a2 promoter methylation. Interestingly, adeno-associated virus-mediated eEF1A2 overexpression in skeletal muscle aggravated fasting hyperglycaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and glucose intolerance in male diabetic gerbils but not in female gerbil models. The overexpression of eEF1A2 in skeletal muscle also resulted in promoted serum glucose levels and insulin resistance in male db/db mice. Up- and downregulation of eEF1A2 by lentiviral vector transfection confirmed its inhibitory effect on insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and signalling transduction in C2C12 myotubes with palmitate (PA)-induced insulin resistance. Furthermore, eEF1A2 bound PKCβ and increased its activation in the cytoplasm, whereas suppression of PKCβ by an inhibitor attenuated eEF1A2-mediated impairment of insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant myotubes. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress was elevated by eEF1A2, whereas suppression of ER stress or JNK partially restored insulin sensitivity in PA-treated myotubes. Additionally, eEF1A2 inhibited lipogenesis and lipid utilisation in insulin-resistant skeletal muscle. Collectively, we demonstrated that eEF1A2 exacerbates insulin resistance in male murine skeletal muscle via PKCβ and ER stress.

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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

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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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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Tabata M Bohlen, Thais T Zampieri, Isadora C Furigo, Pryscila D S Teixeira, Edward O List, John J Kopchick, Jose Donato Jr and Renata Frazao

Growth hormone (GH) is a key factor in the regulation of body growth, as well as a variety of other cellular and metabolic processes. Neurons expressing kisspeptin and leptin receptors (LepR) have been shown to modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis and are considered GH responsive. The presence of functional GH receptors (GHR) in these neural populations suggests that GH may regulate the HPG axis via a central mechanism. However, there have been no studies evaluating whether or not GH-induced intracellular signaling in the brain plays a role in the timing of puberty or mediates the ovulatory cycle. Toward the goal of understanding the influence of GH on the central nervous system as a mediator of reproductive functions, GHR ablation was induced in kisspeptin and LepR-expressing cells or in the entire brain. The results demonstrated that GH signaling in specific neural populations can potentially modulate the hypothalamic expression of genes related to the reproductive system or indirectly contribute to the progression of puberty. GH action in kisspeptin cells or in the entire brain was not required for sexual maturation. On the other hand, GHR ablation in LepR cells delayed puberty progression, reduced serum leptin levels, decreased body weight gain and compromised the ovulatory cycle in some individuals, while the lack of GH effects in the entire brain prompted shorter estrous cycles. These findings suggest that GH can modulate brain components of the HPG axis, although central GH signaling is not required for the timing of puberty.

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Ying Zhang, Nan Meng, Haili Bao, Yufei Jiang, Ningjie Yang, Kejia Wu, Jinxiang Wu, Haibin Wang, Shuangbo Kong and Yuanzhen Zhang

Progesterone is an important hormone for female reproduction; however, how the fluctuation of progesterone acts upon reproductive processes remains largely unknown. Mounting evidence indicates a pivotal role of the circadian clock in sensing hormone dynamics for homeostatic regulation of physiological functions. Therefore, we sought to determine whether clock genes respond to progesterone signaling in female reproductive system. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the circadian system could respond to progesterone signaling during human endometrial decidual transformation. The expression of the circadian gene PER1 increased immediately and remained elevated during human endometrial decidualization. The progesterone receptor activated PER1 transcription by directly binding to its promoter from the onset of the stromal proliferation-differentiation transition. PER1 knockout significantly downregulated the expression of some PGR target genes, and attenuated human endometrial decidual transformation by expediting FOXO1 protein degradation. In conclusion, progesterone could control the female reproductive process through sustained feedback from the circadian gene PER1, which is probably involved to P4-PR signaling responsiveness in the initiation and maintenance of decidualization.

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Rosalia C M Simmen, Dustin M Brown, Charles M Quick, Iad Alhallak, Tyler Rose, Shi J Liu and Angela S Kelley

Type 1 diabetes mellitus and endometriosis separately affect millions of women worldwide. Reproductive-age women diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may also suffer from endometriosis, but the asymptomatic pre-clinical period of highly variable duration for each condition can lead to challenges in the timely recognition of co-morbid disease onset and misdiagnosis. While knowledge of the pathogenesis of each condition has grown substantially, co-morbid endometriosis and type 1 diabetes has not been widely considered and much less addressed. This review discusses the molecular rationale for the likelihood of their co-existence, and prospects for improvements in therapeutic strategies and reduced complications, if this paradigm is included as a significant variable in disease management.

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Andrew T Major, Katie L Ayers, Justin Chue, Kelly N Roeszler and Craig A Smith

FOXL2 is a conserved transcription factor with a central role in ovarian development and function. Studies in humans and mice indicate that the main role of FOXL2 is in the postnatal ovary, namely folliculogenesis. To shed light on the function and evolution of FOXL2 in the female gonad, we examined its role in embryonic avian gonads, using in ovo overexpression and knockdown. FOXL2 mRNA and protein are expressed female specifically in the embryonic chicken gonad, just prior to the onset of sexual differentiation. FOXL2 is expressed in the medullary cord cells, in the same cell type as aromatase (CYP19A1). In addition, later in development, expression also becomes localised in a subset of cortical cells, distinct from those expressing oestrogen receptor alpha. Misexpression of FOXL2 in the male chicken embryonic gonad suppresses the testis developmental pathway, abolishing local expression of the male pathway genes SOX9, DMRT1 and AMH and repressing Sertoli cell development. Conversely, knockdown of FOXL2 expression allows ectopic activation of SOX9 in female gonads. However, misexpression of FOXL2 alone was insufficient to activate aromatase expression in male gonads, while FOXL2 knockdown did not affect aromatase expression in females. These results indicate that FOXL2 plays an important role in embryonic differentiation of the avian ovary via antagonism of SOX9, but may be dispensable for aromatase activation at embryonic stages. The data suggest that FOXL2 has different roles in different species, more central for embryonic ovarian differentiation in egg-laying vertebrates.

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Jing Zhou, Honggui Li, Yuli Cai, Linqiang Ma, Destiny Matthews, Bangchao Lu, Bilian Zhu, Yanming Chen, Xiaoxian Qian, Xiaoqiu Xiao, Qifu Li, Shaodong Guo, Yuqing Huo, Liang Zhao, Yanan Tian, Qingsheng Li and Chaodong Wu

Adenosine 2A receptor (A2AR) exerts a protective role in obesity-related non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Here, we examined whether A2AR protects against non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In C57BL/6J mice, feeding a methionine- and choline-deficient diet (MCD) resulted in significant weight loss, overt hepatic steatosis, and massive aggregation of macrophages in the liver compared with mice fed a chow diet. MCD feeding also significantly increased the numbers of A2AR-positive macrophages/Kupffer cells in liver sections although decreasing A2AR amount in liver lysates compared with chow diet feeding. Next, MCD-induced NASH phenotype was examined in A2AR-disrupted mice and control mice. Upon MCD feeding, A2AR-disruptd mice and control mice displayed comparable decreases in body weight and fat mass. However, MCD-fed A2AR-disrupted mice revealed greater liver weight and increased severity of hepatic steatosis compared with MCD-fed control mice. Moreover, A2AR-disupted mice displayed increased severity of MCD-induced liver inflammation, indicated by massive aggregation of macrophages and increased phosphorylation states of Jun-N terminal kinase (JNK) p46 and nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) p65 and mRNA levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1 beta, and interleukin-6. In vitro, incubation with MCD-mimicking media increased lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced phosphorylation states of JNK p46 and/or NFκB p65 and cytokine mRNAs in control macrophages and RAW264.7 cells, but not primary hepatocytes. Additionally, MCD-mimicking media significantly increased lipopolysaccharide-induced phosphorylation states of p38 and NFκB p65 in A2AR-deficient macrophages, but insignificantly decreased lipopolysaccharide-induced phosphorylation states of JNK p46 and NFκB p65 in A2AR-deficient hepatocytes. Collectively, these results suggest that A2AR disruption exacerbates MCD-induced NASH, which is attributable to, in large part, increased inflammatory responses in macrophages.

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Dan Wang, Chu-Dan Liu, Meng-Li Tian, Cheng-Quan Tan, Gang Shu, Qing-Yan Jiang, Lin Zhang and Yu-Long Yin

Dietary fibers and their microbial fermentation products short-chain fatty acids promote metabolic benefits, but the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. Recent studies indicate that intestinal lipid handling is under regulatory control and has broad influence on whole body energy homeostasis. Here we reported that dietary inulin and propionate significantly decreased whole body fat mass without affecting food intake in mice fed with chow diet. Meanwhile, triglyceride (TG) content was decreased and lipolysis gene expression, such as adipose triglyceride lipase (A tgl), hormone-sensitive lipase (H sl) and lysosomal acid lipase (L al) was elevated in the jejunum and ileum of inulin- and propionate-treated mice. In vitro studies on Caco-2 cells showed propionate directly induced enterocyte Atgl, Hsl and Lal gene expression and decreased TG content, via activation of phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase (p-AMPK) and lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1). Moreover, inulin and propionate could increase intestinal lipolysis under high-fat diet (HFD)-fed condition which contributed to the prevention of HFD-induced obesity. Our study suggests that dietary fiber inulin and its microbial fermentation product propionate can regulate metabolic homeostasis through regulating intestinal lipid handling, which may provide a novel therapeutic target for both prevention and treatment of obesity.