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A. Nakano, M. Terasawa, M. Watanabe, K. Okazaki, S. Inoue, M. Kato, Y. Nimura, N. Usuda, T. Morita and H. Hidaka


Neurocalcin (molecular weight 23 000 and 24 000) is a Ca2+-binding protein with three putative Ca2+-binding domains and is present in large amounts in nervous tissues. Neurocalcin isoproteins separated by C18 reverse-phase column chromatography are insoluble in buffer solution and it is impossible to determine the dissociation constant of neurocalcin with Ca2+. To overcome this difficulty, recombinant neurocalcin was synthesized, based on one of the cDNAs of the neurocalcin isoproteins. Stoichiometric titration experiments, using recombinant neurocalcin, indicated that this protein bound 2 mol Ca2+/mol protein and that the apparent dissociation constant for Ca2+ was 2·2 μmol/l, suggesting that neurocalcin plays a physiological role in cellular function. Immunoblotting showed that neurocalcin is present in the bovine adrenal gland in addition to the nervous tissues. Neurocalcin, identified by immunoblotting, was purified from the bovine adrenal gland. Sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of neurocalcin from the bovine brain showed 23 kDa and 24 kDa double bands, while SDS-PAGE of neurocalcin from the adrenal gland showed a single band of apparently 24 kDa, suggesting that the expression of neurocalcin isoproteins differs from tissue to tissue. The content of neurocalcin in the adrenal gland was 10 μg protein/100 g wet tissue. Immunohistochemical analysis showed the occurrence of neurocalcin in zona glomerulosa and adrenal medulla but not in zona fasciculata or zona reticularis. The restricted localization of neurocalcin in the adrenal gland suggests that a similar Ca2+ signal pathway may be present in zona glomerulosa and the adrenal medulla.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 138, 283–290

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A. Nagasaka, S. Yoshida, A. Nakai, T. Ohyama, K. Iwase, S. Ohtani, H. Nakagawa, R. Masunaga, S. Kato, T. Kawabe and K. Kataoka


Using hypophysectomized rats, it has been shown that DNA polymerase-β activity in the adrenal gland and testis is largely influenced by pituitary trophic hormones. Sucrose gradient centrifugation of thyroid extracts revealed three peaks of DNA polymerase-β activity sedimenting at 3·3S, 7·3S and 12S. Of these, hypophysectomy induced a decrease in the 3·3S DNA polymerase-β, whereas other molecular forms were affected only slightly. DNA polymerase-α and -γ activities were unaffected by hypophysectomy. These changes in DNA polymerase-β caused by hypophysectomy were reversed by daily i.p. injection of TSH. Furthermore, stimulation of the thyroid by excess TSH induced by the administration of 1-methyl-2-mercaptoimidazole resulted in an increase of all forms of thyroid DNA polymerase-β.

These results show that the level of DNA polymerase is relatively constant after hypophysectomy but that DNA polymerase-β in the rat thyroid gland is also modulated by TSH mainly through the change of activity of the polymerase-β which sediments at 3·3S.

J. Endocr. (1988) 119, 303–308

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T Takahashi, K Sato, S Kato, T Yonezawa, Y Kobayashi, Y Ohtani, S Ohwada, H Aso, T Yamaguchi, S G Roh and K Katoh

Ghrelin is a multifunctional peptide that promotes an increase of food intake and stimulates GH secretion. Ghrelin secretion is regulated by nutritional status and nutrients. Although a high-protein (HP) diet increases plasma ghrelin secretion in mammals, the mechanisms and the roles of the elevated ghrelin concentrations due to a HP diet have not been fully established. To clarify the roles of elevated acylated ghrelin upon intake of a HP diet, we investigated the regulation of ghrelin concentrations in plasma and tissues in wethers fed with either the HP diet or the control (CNT) diet for 14 days, and examined the action of the elevated plasma ghrelin by using a ghrelin-receptor antagonist. The HP diet gradually increased the plasma acylated-ghrelin concentrations, but the CNT diet did not. Although the GH concentrations did not vary significantly across the groups, an injection of ghrelin-receptor antagonist enhanced insulin levels in circulation in the HP diet group. In the fundus region of the stomach, the ghrelin levels did not differ between the HP and CNT diet groups, whereas ghrelin O-acyltransferase mRNA levels were higher in the group fed with HP diet than those of the CNT diet group were. These results indicate that the HP diet elevated the plasma ghrelin levels by increasing its synthesis; this elevation strongly suppresses the appearance of insulin in the circulation of wethers, but it is not involved in GH secretion. Overall, our findings indicate a role of endogenous ghrelin action in secretion of insulin, which acts as a regulator after the consumption of a HP diet.

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Y Itoh, S Imamura, K Yamamoto, Y Ono, M Nagata, T Kobayashi, T Kato, M Tomita, A Nakai, M Itoh and A Nagasaka

Endothelin-1 (ET-1) concentrations are increased in patients with diabetes mellitus, particularly those with diabetic retinopathy, or essential hypertension. We hypothesized that ET-1 might participate in the development and progression of diabetic microangiopathy. In this study, the effects of the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, enalapril maleate, on diabetic angiopathy were examined in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic (STZ-DM) rats by monitoring variations in renal function and ET-1 concentrations in blood and organ tissues. Significant increases in kidney weight and in concentrations of urinary albumin, N-acetyl-fl-d-glucosamidase (NAG) and serum ET-1 were observed in the STZ-DM rats as compared with the non-diabetic rats, and the concentration of ET-1 in the kidneys tended to be increased. Microscopic and electron microscopic analyses showed increased mesangial cell proliferation, matrix expansion and enlarged mesangial area in the kidney of the diabetic rats. After administration of the ACE inhibitor, increased concentrations of urinary albumin and NAG in the STZ-DM rats were reduced to the control values with a slight improvement in the electron microscopic changes. These data suggest that ET-1 may be involved in the development and progression of diabetic nephropathy and may explain, in part, why diabetes is liable to complicate hypertension. ACE inhibitor may help to restore diabetic nephropathy in the STZ-induced diabetic rats.

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T Mano, K Iwase, I Yoshimochi, Y Sawai, N Oda, Y Nishida, T Mokuno, M Kotake, A Nakai, N Hayakawa, R Kato, A Nagasaka and H Hidaka


Hyper- and hypothyroid states occasionally induce skeletal muscle dysfunction i.e. periodic paralysis and thyroid myopathy. The etiology of these diseases remains unclear, but several findings suggest that the catecholamine-β-receptor-cAMP system or other messenger systems are disturbed in these diseases. In this context, we evaluated changes in the cyclic 3′,5′-nucleotide metabolic enzyme, cyclic 3′,5′-nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) and calmodulin concentrations in skeletal muscles of hyper- and hypothyroid rats.

Activities of cyclic AMP-PDE were low in skeletal muscle both from hyper- and hypothyroid rats, and calmodulin concentration was high in hyperthyroid and low in hypothyroid rats, as compared with normal rats. DE-52 column chromatographic analysis showed that the cGMP hydrolytic activity in peak I and the cAMP hydrolytic activity in peak II were decreased in hypothyroid rats, whereas cAMP hydrolytic activity in peak III was unchanged. The cAMP hydrolytic activity in peak III was decreased in hyperthyroid rats, but the activities in peaks I and II were unchanged. These findings indicate that cAMP and calmodulin may have some role in skeletal muscle function in the hyperthyroid state, and that cAMP and calmodulin-dependent metabolism may be suppressed in the hypothyroid state.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 146, 287–292

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H. Imura, Y. Kato, Y. Nakai, K. Nakao, I. Tanaka, H. Jingami, T. Koh, T. Yoshimasa, T. Tsukada, M. Suda, M. Sakamoto, N. Morii, H. Takahashi, K. Tojo and A. Sugawara


Advances in techniques in molecular biology have facilitated the research into endogenous opioids and related peptides in several ways. The organization and expression of genes and the primary structure of three precursor proteins of opioid peptides have been elucidated. These studies predicted the presence of potentially bioactive peptides, which has been confirmed by later studies. Advances in techniques in protein chemistry have helped to elucidate the distribution and molecular forms of endogenous opioids and related peptides in the body, and the processing of precursor proteins. Studies on the function of these peptides have shown a broad spectrum of actions. Leumorphin, a newly identified peptide, has been shown to exhibit unique biological activities. In spite of extensive studies, the physiological and pathophysiological significance of opioid peptide systems are not yet completely understood. This is mainly due to the paucity of our knowledge about opioid receptors. Further studies on the subtypes of opioid receptors will help to elucidate all aspects of the function of endogenous opioids and related peptides.

J. Endocr. (1985) 107, 147–157