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Lin Xia, Zhongqiu Wang, Ying Zhang, Xiao Yang, Yibei Zhan, Rui Cheng, Shiming Wang, and Jianfa Zhang

A previous investigation has demonstrated that plasma 5′-AMP (pAMP) exacerbates and causes hyperglycemia in diabetic mice. However, the crosstalk between pAMP and insulin signaling to regulate glucose homeostasis has not been investigated in depth. In this study, we showed that the blood glucose level was more dependent on the ratio of insulin to pAMP than on the absolute level of these two factors. Administration of 5′-AMP significantly attenuated the insulin-stimulated insulin receptor (IR) autophosphorylation in the liver and muscle tissues, resulting in the inhibition of downstream AKT phosphorylation. A docking analysis indicated that adenosine was a potential inhibitor of IR tyrosine kinase. Moreover, the 5′-AMP treatment elevated the ATP level in the pancreas and in the isolated islets, stimulating insulin secretion and increasing the plasma level of insulin. The insulin administration decreased the 5′-AMP-induced hyper-adenosine level by the up-regulation of adenosine kinase activities. Our results indicate that blood glucose homeostasis is reciprocally regulated by pAMP and insulin.

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Yirui He, Cheng Zhang, Yong Luo, Jinhua Chen, Mengliu Yang, Ling Li, Harvest F Gu, Gangyi Yang, and Xianxiang Zhang

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are secreted ligands that belong to the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) superfamily. BMP7 has been reported to play a role in reversing obesity and regulating appetite in the hypothalamus. Whether BMP9 plays a central role in regulating glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity remains unclear. Here, we investigated the impact of central BMP9 signaling and possible route of transmission. We performed intracerebroventricular (ICV) surgery and injected adenovirus expressing BMP9 (Ad-BMP9) into the cerebral ventricle of mice. Metabolic analysis, hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp test, and analysis of phosphatidylinositol 3, 4, 5- trisphosphate (PIP3) formation were then performed. Real-time PCR and western blotting were performed to detect gene expression and potential pathways involved. We found that hypothalamic BMP9 expression was downregulated in obese and insulin-resistant mice. Overexpression of BMP9 in the mediobasal hypothalamus reduced food intake, body weight, and blood glucose level, and elevated the energy expenditure in high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Importantly, central treatment with BMP9 improved hepatic insulin resistance (IR) and inhibited hepatic glucose production in HFD-fed mice. ICV BMP9-induced increase in hepatic insulin sensitivity and related metabolic effects were blocked by ICV injection of rapamycin, an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. In addition, ICV BMP9 promoted the ability of insulin to activate the insulin receptor / phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) / Akt pathway in the hypothalamus. Thus, this study provides insights into the potential mechanism by which central BMP9 ameliorates hepatic glucose metabolism and IR via activating the mTOR/PI3K/Akt pathway in the hypothalamus.

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Zhihao Liu, Fengrui Wu, Baowei Jiao, Xiuyue Zhang, Chongjiang Hu, Baofeng Huang, Linyan Zhou, Xigui Huang, Zhijian Wang, Yaoguang Zhang, Yoshitaka Nagahama, Christopher H K Cheng, and Deshou Wang

To address the roles of doublesex and mab-3-related transcription factor 1 (Dmrt1), forkhead transcription factor gene 2 (Foxl2), and aromatase in sex differentiation of Southern catfish, the cDNA sequences of these genes were isolated from the gonads. Dmrt1a and Dmrt1b were found to be expressed in the gonads, being higher in the testis. A low expression level of Dmrt1b was also detected in the intestine and kidney of the male. Foxl2 was found to be expressed extensively in the brain (B), pituitary (P), gill and gonads (G), with the highest level in the ovary, indicating the possible involvement of Foxl2 in the B–P–G axis. Cytochrome P450 (Cyp)19b was found to be expressed in the brain, spleen, and gonads, while Cyp19a was only expressed in the gonads and spleen. All-female Southern catfish fry were treated with fadrozole (F), tamoxifen (TAM), and 17β-estradiol (E2) respectively, from 5 to 25 days after hatching (dah). The expression levels of these genes were measured at 65 dah. In the F-, TAM-, and FTAM-treated groups, Dmrt1a and Dmrt1b were up-regulated in the gonad, whereas Foxl2 and Cyp19a were down-regulated, while the expression of Cyp19b in the gonad remained unchanged. Furthermore, down-regulation of Foxl2 and Cyp19b was also detected in the brain. In the E2-treated group, Dmrt1a and Dmrt1b were down-regulated to an undetectable level in the gonad, whereas Foxl2 and Cyp19b were up-regulated in the brain. Consistent with the observed changes in the expressions of these genes, 56, 70, and 80% sex-reversed male individuals were obtained in the F-, TAM-, and F + TAM-treated groups respectively. These results indicate the significant roles of Dmrt1, Foxl2, and Cyp19 in the sex differentiation of Southern catfish.

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Dong-Xu Han, Chang-Jiang Wang, Xu-Lei Sun, Jian-Bo Liu, Hao Jiang, Yan Gao, Cheng-Zhen Chen, Bao Yuan, and Jia-Bao Zhang

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a new class of RNA that have a stable structure characterized by covalently closed circular molecules and are involved in invasive pituitary adenomas and recurrent clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. However, information on circRNAs in the normal pituitary, especially in rats, is limited. In this study, we identified 4123 circRNAs in the immature (D15) and mature (D120) rat anterior pituitary using the Illumina platform, and 32 differentially expressed circRNAs were found. A total of 150 Gene Ontology terms were significantly enriched, and 16 KEGG pathways were found to contain differentially expressed genes. Moreover, we randomly selected eight highly expressed circRNAs and detected their relative expression levels in the mature and immature rat pituitary by qPCR. In addition, we predicted 90 interactions between 53 circRNAs and 57 miRNAs using miRanda. Notably, circ_0000964 and circ_0001303 are potential miRNA sponges that may regulate the Fshb gene. The expression profile of circRNAs in the immature and mature rat anterior pituitary may provide more information about the roles of circRNAs in the development and reproduction in mammals.

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Xigui Huang, Baowei Jiao, Chun Kit Fung, Yong Zhang, Walter K K Ho, Chi Bun Chan, Haoran Lin, Deshou Wang, and Christopher H K Cheng

Two prolactin receptors (PRLRs) encoded by two different genes were identified in the fugu and zebrafish genomes but not in the genomes of other vertebrates. Subsequently, two cDNA sequences corresponding to two PRLRs were identified in black seabream and Nile tilapia. Phylogenetic analysis of PRLR sequences in various vertebrates indicated that the coexistence of two PRLRs in a single species is a unique phenomenon in teleosts. Both PRLRs in teleosts (the classical one named as PRLR1, the newly identified one as PRLR2) resemble the long-form mammalian PRLRs. However, despite their overall structural similarities, the two PRLR subtypes in fish share very low amino acid similarities (about 30%), mainly due to differences in the intracellular domain. In particular, the Box 2 region and some intracellular tyrosine residues are missing in PRLR2. Tissue distribution study by real-time PCR in black seabream (sb) revealed that both receptors (sbPRLR1 and sbPRLR2) are widely expressed in different tissues. In gill, the expression level of sbPRLR2 is much higher than that of sbPRLR1. In the intestine, the expression of sbPRLR1 is higher than that of sbPRLR2. The expression levels of both receptors are relatively low in most other tissues, with sbPRLR1 generally higher than sbPRLR2. The sbPRLR1 and sbPRLR2 were functionally expressed in cultured human embryonic kidney 293 cells. Both receptors can activate the β-casein and c-fos promoters; however, only sbPRLR1 but not sbPRLR2 can activate the Spi promoter upon receptor stimulation in a ligand-specific manner. These results indicate that both receptors share some common functions but are distinctly different from each other in mobilizing post-receptor events. When challenged with different steroid hormones, the two PRLRs exhibited very different gene expression patterns in the seabream kidney. The sbPRLR1 expression was up-regulated by estradiol and cortisol, whereas testosterone had no significant effect. For sbPRLR2, its expression was down-regulated by estradiol and testosterone, while cortisol exerted no significant effect. The 5′-flanking regions of the sbPRLR1 and sbPRLR2 genes were cloned and the promoter activities were studied in transfected GAKS cells in the absence or presence of different steroid hormones. The results of the promoter studies were in general agreement with the in vivo hormonal regulation of gene expression results. The sbPRLR1 gene promoter activity was activated by estradiol and cortisol, but not by testosterone. In contrast, the sbPRLR2 gene promoter activity was inhibited by estradiol, cortisol, and testosterone.

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Yong Zhang, Yun Liu, Xigui Huang, Xiaochun Liu, Baowei Jiao, Zining Meng, Pei Zhu, Shuisheng Li, Haoran Lin, and Christopher H K Cheng

Two GPR39 transcripts, designated as sbGPR39-1a and sbGPR39-1b, were identified in black seabream (Acanthopagrus schlegeli). The deduced amino acid (aa) sequence of sbGPR39-1a contains 423 residues with seven putative transmembrane (TM) domains. On the other hand, sbGPR39-1b contains 284 aa residues with only five putative TM domains. Northern blot analysis confirmed the presence of two GPR39 transcripts in the seabream intestine, stomach, and liver. Apart from seabream, the presence of two GPR39 transcripts was also found to exist in a number of teleosts (zebrafish and pufferfish) and mammals (human and mouse). Analysis of the GPR39 gene structure in different species suggests that the two GPR39 transcripts are generated by alternative splicing. When the seabream receptors were expressed in cultured HEK293 cells, Zn2+ could trigger sbGPR39-1a signaling through the serum response element pathway, but no such functionality could be detected for the sbGPR39-1b receptor. The two receptors were found to be differentially expressed in seabream tissues. sbGPR39-1a is predominantly expressed in the gastrointestinal tract. On the other hand, sbGPR39-1b is widely expressed in most central and peripheral tissues except muscle and ovary. The expression of sbGPR39-1a in the intestine and the expression of sbGPR39-1b in the hypothalamus were decreased significantly during food deprivation in seabream. On the contrary, the expression of the GH secretagogue receptors (sbGHSR-1a and sbGHSR-1b) was significantly increased in the hypothalamus of the food-deprived seabream. The reciprocal regulatory patterns of expression of these two genes suggest that both of them are involved in controlling the physiological response of the organism during starvation.

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Lourdes M Andino, Daniel J Ryder, Alexandra Shapiro, Michael K Matheny, Yi Zhang, Melanie K Judge, K Y Cheng, Nihal Tümer, and Philip J Scarpace

The activation of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in different regions of the brain, including the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC) and the nucleus of the solitary tract curtails feeding and attenuates body weight. In this study, we compared the effects of delivery of a recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) construct encoding POMC to the ARC with delivery to the ventral tegmental area (VTA). F344×Brown Norway rats were high-fat (HF) fed for 14 days after which self-complementary rAAV constructs expressing either green fluorescent protein or the POMC gene were injected using coordinates targeting either the VTA or the ARC. Corresponding increased POMC levels were found at the predicted injection sites and subsequent α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone levels were observed. Food intake and body weight were measured for 4 months. Although caloric intake was unaltered by POMC overexpression, weight gain was tempered with POMC overexpression in either the VTA or the ARC compared with controls. There were parallel decreases in adipose tissue reserves. In addition, levels of oxygen consumption and brown adipose tissue uncoupling protein 1 were significantly elevated with POMC treatment in the VTA. Interestingly, tyrosine hydroxylase levels were increased in both the ARC and VTA with POMC overexpression in either the ARC or the VTA. In conclusion, these data indicate a role for POMC overexpression within the VTA reward center to combat HF-induced obesity.

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Jian-Ting Ke, Mi Li, Shi-Qing Xu, Wen-Jian Zhang, Yong-Wei Jiang, Lan-yun Cheng, Li Chen, Jin-Ning Lou, and Wei Wu

The efficacy of gliquidone for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy was investigated by implanting micro-osmotic pumps containing gliquidone into the abdominal cavities of Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats with diabetic nephropathy. Blood glucose, 24 h urinary protein, and 24 h urinary albumin levels were measured weekly. After 4 weeks of gliquidone therapy, pathological changes in the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) were examined using an electron microscope. Real-time PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry were employed to detect glomerular expression of receptors for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) (AGER), protein kinase C β (PKCβ), and protein kinase A (PKA) as well as tubular expression of the albumin reabsorption-associated proteins: megalin and cubilin. Human proximal tubular epithelial cells (HK-2 cells) were used to analyze the effects of gliquidone and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) on the expression of megalin and cubilin and on the absorption of albumin. Gliquidone lowered blood glucose, 24 h urinary protein, and 24 h urinary albumin levels in GK rats with diabetic nephropathy. The level of plasma C-peptide increased markedly and GBM and podocyte lesions improved dramatically after gliquidone treatment. Glomerular expression of RAGE and PKCβ decreased after gliquidone treatment, while PKA expression increased. AGEs markedly suppressed the expression of megalin and cubulin and the absorption of albumin in HK-2 cells in vitro, whereas the expression of megalin and cubilin and the absorption of albumin were all increased in these cells after gliquidone treatment. In conclusion, gliquidone treatment effectively reduced urinary protein in GK rats with diabetic nephropathy by improving glomerular lesions and promoting tubular reabsorption.

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Shuisheng Li, Yong Zhang, Yun Liu, Xigui Huang, Weiren Huang, Danqi Lu, Pei Zhu, Yu Shi, Christopher H K Cheng, Xiaochun Liu, and Haoran Lin

To ascertain the neuroendocrine function of the kisspeptin/GPR54 system in non-mammalian species, full-length cDNAs encoding for Kiss1 and Kiss2 as well as their putative cognate receptors GPR54a and GPR54b, were isolated from goldfish (Carassius auratus). The deduced protein sequences between Kiss1 and Kiss2 in goldfish share very low similarity, but their putative mature peptides (kisspeptin-10) are relatively conserved. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that the goldfish kiss1 gene (gfkiss1) is highly expressed in the optic tectum-thalamus, intestine, kidney, and testis, while the goldfish kiss2 gene (gfkiss2) is mainly detected in the hypothalamus, telencephalon, optic tectum thalamus, adipose tissue, kidney, heart, and gonads. The two receptor genes (gfgpr54a and gfgpr54b) are highly expressed in the brain regions including telencephalon, optic tectum thalamus, and hypothalamus. Both mature goldfish kisspeptin-10 peptides (gfKiss1–10 and gfKiss2–10) are biologically active as they could functionally interact with the two goldfish receptors expressed in cultured eukaryotic cells to trigger the downstream signaling pathways with different potencies. The actions of gfKiss1–10 and gfKiss2–10 on LH secretion were further investigated in vitro and in vivo. Intraperitoneal administration of gfKiss1–10 to sexually mature female goldfish could increase the serum LH levels. However, this peptide does not significantly influence LH release from goldfish pituitary cells in primary culture, indicating that the peptide does not exert its actions at the pituitary level. On the other hand, gfKiss2–10 appears to be a much less potent peptide as it exhibits no significant in vivo bioactivity and is also inactive on the primary pituitary cells.

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Hong Ma, Jin Yuan, Jinyu Ma, Jie Ding, Weiwei Lin, Xinlei Wang, Mingliang Zhang, Yi Sun, Runze Wu, Chun Liu, Cheng Sun, and Yunjuan Gu

Bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7), a member of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family, plays pivotal roles in energy expenditure. However, whether and how BMP7 regulates hepatic insulin sensitivity is still poorly understood. Here, we show that hepatic BMP7 expression is reduced in high-fat diet (HFD)-induced diabetic mice and palmitate (PA)-induced insulin-resistant HepG2 and AML12 cells. BMP7 improves insulin signaling pathway in insulin resistant hepatocytes. On the contrary, knockdown of BMP7 further impairs insulin signal transduction in PA-treated cells. Increased expression of BMP7 by adenovirus expressing BMP7 improves hyperglycemia, insulin sensitivity and insulin signal transduction. Furthermore, BMP7 inhibits mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in both the liver of obese mice and PA-treated cells. In addition, inhibition of MAPKs recapitulates the effects of BMP7 on insulin signal transduction in cultured hepatocytes treated with PA. Activation of p38 MAPK abolishes the BMP7-mediated upregulation of insulin signal transduction both in vitro and in vivo. Together, our results show that hepatic BMP7 has a novel function in regulating insulin sensitivity through inhibition of MAPKs, thus providing new insights into treating insulin resistance-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes.