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J Soden, A Stevens and DW Ray

The development of methods for engineering proteins with novel properties opens the way to manipulating intracellular processes in a therapeutically useful way. Glucocorticoids, acting via glucocorticoid receptors (GR), are potent anti-inflammatory agents, acting to oppose nuclear factor kappa B (NF kappa B) function. The herpes viral protein, VP22, has been reported to confer intercellular trafficking activity on 'cargo' proteins, potentially facilitating gene therapy with intracellular proteins. VP22GR, resulting from the addition of VP22 to the N terminal of GR, was equipotent with the wild-type GR in opposing NF kappa B p65-driven expression of an NF kappa B reporter gene. Surprisingly, VP22GR was incapable of inducing transactivation of positive glucocorticoid reporter genes (MMTV-luc and TAT3-luc). Furthermore, the VP22GR had powerful dominant negative activity on both endogenous and exogenous GR transactivation. VP22GR was cytoplasmic in quiescent cells, and after hormone addition underwent nuclear translocation to share the same distribution as the GR. The ability of the VP22GR to selectively confer and enhance glucocorticoid-dependent transrepression of NF kappa B may be of use therapeutically in e.g. transplant rejection, inflammatory arthritis or asthma.

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C E Waters, A Stevens, A White and D W Ray

Human small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) tumours exhibit neuroendocrine differentiation, secreting hormones such as ACTH and related peptides. While glucocorticoids inhibit ACTH secretion from the pituitary, this does not occur in SCLC tumours and SCLC cell lines. Failure of glucocorticoids to suppress ACTH peptides is accompanied by a global lack of glucocorticoid action in a number of SCLC cell lines.

In the human SCLC cell line, COR L103, activation of a human tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT3)-luciferase reporter gene is resistant to glucocorticoids despite similar glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expression to the glucocorticoid-sensitive A549 human lung cancer cell line; moreover, the GR is free of deleterious mutations. Over-expression of a wild-type GR restores glucocorticoid regulation of TAT3-luciferase, and this is enhanced when the activation function (AF)-2 domain is deleted but much reduced when the AF-1 domain is deleted. This suggests aberrant AF-2 activation domain function. We identified defective steroid receptor co-activator 1 (SRC1) recruitment to the GR AF-2 in COR L103 cells, although SRC1 was successfully recruited to the steroid X receptor with rifampicin, suggesting a defect in the GR. Analysis of other GR C-terminal co-factors identified increased expression of nuclear co-repressor (NCoR) in COR L103 cells. To determine the impact of this, NCoR was over-expressed in A549 cells, where it reduced GR transactivation by 55%.

In summary, glucocorticoid resistance is associated with altered SRC protein recruitment and increased expression of NCoR in these SCLC cells, suggesting that glucocorticoid sensitivity may be modified by subtle changes in co-factor recruitment.

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TT Huynh, DW Ray, IJ Brogan, A Stevens, Davis JR, A White and A White

We have previously described a panel of human small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) cell lines that have profound glucocorticoid resistance, resulting from various molecular defects in glucocorticoid signalling. However, in one SCLC cell line, CORL103, the cause of the resistance is unknown. These cells are refractory to dexamethasone stimulation of MMTV even when exogenous wild-type glucocorticoid receptor (GR) is co-transfected. This is in contrast to cell lines DMS79 and CORL24 where resistance is overcome by transfection of the wild-type receptor. Sequencing of the GR from CORL103 cells revealed two point mutations, but neither of these induced dominant negative activity. Steroid hormone resistance extended to mineralocorticoid and progesterone receptor (MR, PR) activation of MMTV-luc, whereas oestrogen and thyroid hormone receptor transactivation were normal. A simpler reporter, TAT3-luc, containing three copies of the tyrosine aminotransferase glucocorticoid response element (GRE), was responsive when transfected into CORL103 cells with GR, MR and PR expression vectors and activated with their respective ligands. Similarly, pHH-luc and pAH-luc (truncated MMTV variants containing the GRE region, both derived from a different strain of MMTV), were effectively transactivated with dexamethasone. This suggests that the minor changes in the flanking sequence of the MMTV promoter are critically important in determining steroid responsiveness in CORL103 cells. We propose that minor differences in MMTV may determine recruitment of co-factors, which destabilise GR binding to the MMTV GREs. These findings represent a new, selective, model of glucocorticoid resistance that may explain specific cell and target gene differences in glucocorticoid sensitivity.

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M Merle Elloso, Kristen Phiel, Ruth A Henderson, Heather A Harris and Steven J Adelman

Estrogens have been shown to modulate disease activity in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the mouse model for multiple sclerosis. Consistent with these findings, the severity of disease is reduced in pregnant women with multiple sclerosis when levels of estrogens are high. Estrogens bind to two known estrogen receptors (ER), ERα and ERβ. The relative contribution of these receptors to estrogen-mediated suppression of EAE was explored using ER-selective ligands. The ER antagonist ICI 182 780 reversed the suppressive effects of 17β-estradiol (E2), demonstrating that the protective effects of E2 on disease are dependent upon ER signaling. Treatment of SJL mice with the ERα-selective agonist proteolipid protein (PPT) prior to the induction of disease resulted in suppression of clinical symptoms of disease, whereas treatment with an ERβ-selective agonist (WAY-202041) had no effect. Treatment of mice with PLP peptide 139–151 (PPT) was also associated with decreased immune responses associated with disease. Consistent with its lack of effect on disease, the ERβ agonist had minimal effects on immune responses. The use of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) in this model was also explored, and we show that raloxifene and WAY-138923 were also effective in suppressing disease. These results demonstrate the beneficial effects of estrogen receptor ligands, in particular ERα-selective ligands, and may have implications in the development of therapeutic strategies for multiple sclerosis.

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Angela S Bang, Steven G Soule, Tim G Yandle, A Mark Richards and Chris J Pemberton

Ghrelin is a 28 amino acid stomach peptide, derived from proghrelin(1–94), that stimulates GH release, appetite and adipose deposition. Recently, a peptide derived from proghrelin(53–75) – also known as obestatin – has been reported to be a physiological antagonist of ghrelin in the rat. Using four specific RIAs, we provide the first characterisation of proghrelin(1–94) peptides in human plasma, their modulation by metabolic manipulation and their distribution in mammalian tissues. ghrelin(1–28) immunoreactivity (IR) in human plasma and rat plasma/stomach consisted of major des-octanoyl and minor octanoylated forms, as determined by HPLC/RIA. Human plasma ghrelin(1–28) IR was significantly suppressed by food intake, oral glucose and 1 mg s.c. glucagon administration. ghrelin(1–28) IR and proghrelin(29–94) IR peptide distributions in the rat indicated that the stomach and gastrointestinal tract contain the highest amounts of the peptides. Human and rat plasma and rat stomach extracts contained a major IR peak of proghrelin(29–94)-like peptide as determined by HPLC/RIA, whereas no obestatin IR was observed. Human plasma proghrelin(29–94)-like IR positively correlated with ghrelin(1–28) IR, was significantly suppressed by food intake and oral glucose and shared with ghrelin(1–28) IR a negative correlation with body mass index. We found no evidence for the existence of obestatin as a unique, endogenous peptide. Rather, our data suggest that circulating and stored peptides derived from the carboxyl terminal of proghrelin (C-ghrelin) are consistent in length with proghrelin(29–94) and respond to metabolic manipulation, at least in man, in similar fashion to ghrelin(1–28).

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Ashley I Taylor, Nigel Irwin, Aine M McKillop, Steven Patterson, Peter R Flatt and Victor A Gault

Recently, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) have received much attention regarding possible roles in aetiology and treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, peptides co-secreted from the same enteroendocrine cells are less well studied. The present investigation was designed to characterise the in vitro and in vivo effects of xenin, a peptide co-secreted with GIP from intestinal K-cells. We examined the enzymatic stability, insulin-releasing activity and associated cAMP production capability of xenin in vitro. In addition, the effects of xenin on satiety, glucose homoeostasis and insulin secretion were examined in vivo. Xenin was time dependently degraded (t 1/2=162±6 min) in plasma in vitro. In clonal BRIN-BD11 cells, xenin stimulated insulin secretion at 5.6 mM (P<0.05) and 16.7 mM (P<0.05 to P<0.001) glucose levels compared to respective controls. Xenin also exerted an additive effect on GIP, GLP1 and neurotensin-mediated insulin secretion. In clonal β-cells, xenin did not stimulate cellular cAMP production, alter membrane potential or elevate intra-cellular Ca2 +. In normal mice, xenin exhibited a short-acting (P<0.01) satiety effect at high dosage (500 nmol/kg). In overnight fasted mice, acute injection of xenin enhanced glucose-lowering and elevated insulin secretion when injected concomitantly or 30 min before glucose. These effects were not observed when xenin was administered 60 min before the glucose challenge, reflecting the short half-life of the native peptide in vivo. Overall, these data demonstrate that xenin may have significant metabolic effects on glucose control, which merit further study.

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R. A. Prysor-Jones, J. J. Silverlight, J. S. Jenkins, A. N. Stevens, J. L. Rodrigues and J. R. Griffiths

ABSTRACT

31P-Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra were obtained in the living rat from 19 implanted prolactin-secreted pituitary tumours. Seven major peaks were found including those arising from the high energy phosphorus metabolites ATP and phosphocreatine. Intracellular pH of the tumours was measured and a relationship with prolactin secretion was observed, the highest plasma prolactin concentrations being associated with an intracellular pH >7·18. Repeated NMR measurements in three tumours over periods of up to 21 days revealed progressive changes with age, shown by an increase in inorganic phosphate, a decrease in high energy phosphorus metabolites and a decrease in prolactin secretion. It is concluded that NMR spectroscopy provides a useful method of studying intracellular events which accompany hormone secretion in vivo.

J. Endocr. (1985) 106, 349–353

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Chandrika D Mahalingam, Tanuka Datta, Rashmi V Patil, Jaclynn Kreider, R Daniel Bonfil, Keith L Kirkwood, Steven A Goldstein, Abdul B Abou-Samra and Nabanita S Datta

Parathyroid hormone (PTH) signaling via PTH 1 receptor (PTH1R) involves mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. MAPK phosphatase 1 (MKP1) dephosphorylates and inactivates MAPKs in osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells. We previously showed that PTH1R activation in differentiated osteoblasts upregulates MKP1 and downregulates pERK1/2–MAPK and cyclin D1. In this study, we evaluated the skeletal phenotype of Mkp1 knockout (KO) mice and the effects of PTH in vivo and in vitro. Microcomputed tomography analysis of proximal tibiae and distal femora from 12-week-old Mkp1 KO female mice revealed osteopenic phenotype with significant reduction (8–46%) in bone parameters compared with wild-type (WT) controls. Histomorphometric analysis showed decreased trabecular bone area in KO females. Levels of serum osteocalcin (OCN) were lower and serum tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5b (TRAP5b) was higher in KO animals. Treatment of neonatal mice with hPTH (1–34) for 3 weeks showed attenuated anabolic responses in the distal femora of KO mice compared with WT mice. Primary osteoblasts derived from KO mice displayed delayed differentiation determined by alkaline phosphatase activity, and reduced expressions of Ocn and Runx2 genes associated with osteoblast maturation and function. Cells from KO females exhibited attenuated PTH response in mineralized nodule formation in vitro. Remarkably, this observation was correlated with decreased PTH response of matrix Gla protein expression. Expressions of pERK1/2 and cyclin D1 were inhibited dramatically by PTH in differentiated osteoblasts from WT mice but much less in osteoblasts from Mkp1 KO mice. In conclusion, MKP1 is important for bone homeostasis, osteoblast differentiation and skeletal responsiveness to PTH.

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Laura D Ratner, Guillermina Stevens, Maria Marta Bonaventura, Victoria A Lux-Lantos, Matti Poutanen, Ricardo S Calandra, Ilpo T Huhtaniemi and Susana B Rulli

The metabolic syndrome is a growing epidemic; it increases the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, and several cancers. Several reports have indicated a link between hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance or obesity. Transgenic (TG) female mice overexpressing the human chorionic gonadotropin β-subunit (hCGβ+ mice) exhibit constitutively elevated levels of hCG, increased production of testosterone, progesterone and prolactin, and obesity. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of hCG hypersecretion on possible alterations in the glucose and lipid metabolism of adult TG females. We evaluated fasting serum insulin, glucose, and triglyceride levels in adult hCGβ+ females and conducted intraperitoneal glucose and insulin tolerance tests at different ages. TG female mice showed hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and dyslipidemia, as well as glucose intolerance and insulin resistance at 6 months of age. A 1-week treatment with the dopamine agonist cabergoline applied on 5-week-old hCGβ+ mice, which corrected hyperprolactinemia, hyperandrogenism, and hyperprogesteronemia, effectively prevented the metabolic alterations. These data indicate a key role of the hyperprolactinemia-induced gonadal dysfunction in the metabolic disturbances of hCGβ+ female mice. The findings prompt further studies on the involvement of gonadotropins and prolactin on metabolic disorders and might pave the way for the development of new therapeutic strategies.

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Alena Nareika, Yeong-Bin Im, Bryan A Game, Elizabeth H Slate, John J Sanders, Steven D London, Maria F Lopes-Virella and Yan Huang

We have demonstrated recently that high glucose augments lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and cytokine expression by U937 mononuclear cells and human monocyte-derived macrophages. Since CD14 is a receptor for LPS, one potential underlying mechanism is that high glucose enhances CD14 expression. In the present study, we determined the effect of high glucose on CD14 expression by U937 mononuclear cells. After being chronically exposed to normal or high glucose for 2 weeks or longer, cells were treated with LPS for 24 h. Real-time PCR showed that although high glucose by itself did not increase CD14 expression significantly, it augmented LPS-stimulated CD14 expression by 15-fold. Immunoassay showed a marked enhancement of both membrane-associated and soluble CD14 protein levels by high glucose. Further investigations using transcription factor activity assays and gel shift assays revealed that high glucose augmented LPS-stimulated CD14 expression by enhancing transcription factor nuclear factor κB (NFκB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) activities. Finally, studies using anti-CD14 neutralizing antibody showed that CD14 expression is essential for the enhancement of LPS-stimulated MMP-1 expression by high glucose. Taken together, this study has demonstrated a robust augmentation by high glucose of LPS-stimulated CD14 expression through AP-1 and NFκB transcriptional activity enhancement, elucidating a new mechanism by which hyperglycemia boosts LPS-elicited gene expression involved in inflammation and tissue destruction.