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LJ Raggatt, A Evdokiou, and DM Findlay

Recently we reported that calcitonin (CT) induces growth arrest at the G2 stage of the cell cycle in HEK-293 cell lines expressing the most abundant, insert-negative, isoform of the human CT receptor (insert -ve hCTR). The present study investigates the involvement of the MAPK signalling pathway in the anti-proliferative actions of CT and compares the activity of an isoform of the hCTR that contains a 16 amino acid insert in the first putative intracellular loop (insert +ve hCTR). Comparison of HEK-293 cells stably transfected with the insert -ve or the insert +ve hCTR, showed that accumulation of cAMP and intracellular free calcium in response to CT were specific for the insert -ve receptor isoform. However, a novel acidification of the extracellular medium was mediated by both isoforms. Treatment with CT of cells expressing the insert -ve hCTR, caused a decrease in cell growth associated with an induction of p21(WAF1/CIP1). Analysis by fluorescence-activated cell scanning showed that growth inhibition was associated with an accumulation of cells in G2. CT treatment of cells expressing the insert -ve, but not insert +ve hCTR, induced the phosphorylation of Erk1/2 MAPK, which persisted for at least 72 h. Treatment of cells expressing the insert -ve hCTR with the MAPK kinase (MEK) inhibitor, PD-98059, inhibited the phosphorylation of Erk1/2 and abrogated the growth inhibitory effects of salmon CT, the accumulation of cells in G2, and the associated induction of p21(WAF1/CIP1). These data suggest that activation of Erk1/2 are downstream effectors of the insert -ve hCTR in modulating cell cycle progression.

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S Celic, Y Katayama, PJ Chilco, TJ Martin, and DM Findlay

We have previously shown that an exogenous type I collagen matrix can regulate expression of mRNA for parathyroid hormone (PTH)-related protein (PTHrP) and its receptor, the PTH/PTHrP receptor, in the UMR106-06 osteogenic sarcoma cell line, which is considered to be representative of a relatively mature osteoblast phenotype. Consistent with those data, we show here that growth of UMR106-06 cells on type I collagen increased PTH/PTHrP receptor-binding capacity. Analysis of the binding data showed that the number of PTH/PTHrP receptors expressed by cells cultured on collagen was at least 2-fold greater than that of cells cultured on plastic. Expression of mRNA encoding alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and osteopontin (OP) was also upregulated in cells cultured on collagen, suggesting that interaction with collagen promotes the osteoblast phenotype in this cell line. Retinoic acid (RA), which has also been shown to promote osteoblastic differentiation, synergized with type I collagen to cause super-induction of OP mRNA. In contrast, RA abolished the collagen-induced increase in ALP mRNA and PTH/PTHrP receptor mRNA. The collagen-mediated increase in the expression of OP and PTH/PTHrP receptor mRNA, but not that of ALP, was perturbed by prior covalent modification of the collagen by non-enzymatic glycation. The collagen effects did not occur via interaction with RGD amino acid domains in type I collagen, but evidence was obtained for involvement of the DGEA amino acid cell-binding domain. The mechanism by which plating of UMR106-06 cells on a type I collagen substrate affects PTH/PTHrP receptor mRNA levels was investigated. Inhibition of cytoskeletal organization using cytochalasin D, and inhibitors of protein phosphatases, protein kinase C, phospholipase C and cyclooxygenase, did not abrogate the collagen-mediated effects. In contrast, treatment of cells with the protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein, but not herbimycin A, dose-dependently abolished the collagen effects on the expression of PTH/PTHrP receptor, ALP and OP mRNA. These results show that a type I collagen substrate influences the expression of osteoblast-associated genes in a cell model of mature osteoblasts and suggests that this involves, at least in part, changes in intracellular tyrosine phosphorylation.

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AE Drummond, M Dyson, E Thean, NP Groome, DM Robertson, and JK Findlay

The contribution of specific follicle populations to dimeric inhibin production and inhibin subunit mRNA expression by the rat ovary has been investigated in two model systems, granulosa cells isolated from 25-day-old diethylstilboestrol (DES)-treated rats and post-natal rat ovaries, dispersed in culture or whole ovaries, using specific two-site immunoassays and 'real time' PCR. Media from FSH-stimulated granulosa cell cultures fractionated by gel filtration and RP-high performance liquid chromatography revealed two predominant peaks of alpha subunit activity which were attributed to alpha subunit and 31 k dimeric inhibin-A. The corresponding inhibin-B levels were low. FSH stimulation did not alter the ratio of inhibin-A:alpha subunit produced by granulosa cells. All three inhibin subunit mRNAs were expressed by granulosa cells, with eight-fold more alpha subunit mRNA relative to either of the beta subunits. Administration of DES to immature rats prior to the isolation of granulosa cells from the ovary led to beta(A) and beta(B) mRNA expression being down-regulated in the absence of any significant change in alpha subunit expression by the granulosa cells. Inhibin-A, -B and -alpha subunit were produced by basal and stimulated cultures of ovarian cells prepared from 4-, 8- and 12-day-old rats, indicating that primary, preantral and antral follicles contribute to total inhibin production. Consistent with these results, follicles within these ovaries expressed all three inhibin subunit mRNAs, with maximal expression observed in the ovaries of 8-day-old rats. The appearance of antral follicles in the ovary at day 12 led to a decline in the mRNA levels of each of the subunits but was most evident for the beta subunits. There was a profound influence of secondary preantral follicles on dimeric inhibin-A production, with FSH stimulation increasing inhibin-A relative to alpha subunit levels in cultures of ovarian cells prepared from 8-day-old rats. Thus, preantral follicles exposed to FSH contribute significantly to beta(A) subunit production by the ovary. In contrast, primary and preantral follicles did not produce inhibin-B in response to FSH stimulation. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) enhanced, in a time-dependent manner, the production of the inhibin forms by ovarian cells in culture, although inhibin-B production was not responsive until day 8. The simultaneous treatment of ovarian cell cultures with FSH and TGF-beta elicited the greatest increases in production of all the inhibin forms. In summary, ovaries of 4-, 8- and 12-day-old rats expressed inhibin subunit mRNAs and produced dimeric inhibin-A and -B and free alpha subunit. Preantral follicles (day-8 ovarian cell cultures) were particularly sensitive to stimulation by FSH and TGF-beta and had a substantial capacity for inhibin production. The production of oestrogen by follicles may be instrumental in regulating inhibin production given that beta subunit mRNA expression was down-regulated by DES. The mechanisms by which inhibin-A and inhibin-B are individually regulated are likely to be similar during the post-natal period, when folliculogenesis is being established, and diverge thereafter, when inhibin-A becomes the predominant form in the fully differentiated ovary.

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DM Findlay, LJ Raggatt, S Bouralexis, S Hay, GJ Atkins, and A Evdokiou

We recently reported that calcitonin (CT) can profoundly inhibit the growth of HEK-293 cells transfected with the human calcitonin receptor (hCTR). We also obtained preliminary evidence that suggested a role for CT in cell survival, and in the present study we have investigated the pro-apoptotic action of CT, which we observe in conditions of low serum concentration. Under these conditions, we have found that CT treatment of HEK-293 cells stably transfected with the insert-negative form of the human CTR (HR12 cells) caused a time-dependent decrease in cell number associated with loss of cellular attachment. Loss of cellular adherence in CT-treated cultures caused programmed cell death, as shown by Annexin V staining of cells, failure of cells to exclude Trypan Blue dye, condensation and cleavage of nuclear DNA, and appearance of hypodiploid cells in fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis. The accumulation of non-adherent cells and cell death was concomitant with increased intracellular activity of caspase-3. However, inhibition of caspase activation in HR12 cells did not prevent CT-mediated loss of attachment and did not maintain the viability of non-adherent cells, indicating that caspase activation accompanied, but was probably not the cause of, the loss of cell viability. Neither the effects of CT on cell survival nor the activation of caspase-3 were observed in serum-replete conditions, suggesting that serum-derived factors provide protection of cells from CT-induced apoptosis. The inhibitory effects of CT on cell growth were found previously to be related to activation of Erk1/2 MAP kinase. In the present experiments, it was found that the Erk1/2 inhibitor, PD 98059, inhibited the CT-induced loss of cellular adherence and the consequent reduction in cell numbers. These results demonstrate that CT can negatively affect cell survival and they identify roles for cell adherence and MAP kinase activation in this process.

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R.G. Forage, R.W. Brown, K.J. Oliver, B.T. Atrache, P.L. Devine, G.C. Hudson, N.H. Goss, K.C. Bertram, P. Tolstoshev, D.M. Robertson, D.M. de Kretser, B. Doughton, H.G. Burger, and J.K. Findlay


Seven Merino–Border Leicester cross–bred ewes were immunized with a purified fusion protein, produced by recombinant DNA methods, of the a subunit of bovine inhibin. Four animals were immunized with the fusion protein alone and three with a conjugate made by coupling the fusion protein to keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) using glutaraldehyde. Each animal received four injections of the fusion protein over 93 days. The animals were synchronized using progestagen sponges and subjected to laparoscopy for the determination of ovulation rates in two consecutive cycles (days 115 and 135). The immunized animals had overall mean ovulation rates for each cycle of 3.4 and 3.4 which was significantly (P < 0.001) above the rates of 1.1 and 1.4 determined for the controls, which had either received no treatment (n=5) or had been immunized with 300 μg KLH (n=4). Analysis of antisera taken on day 115 showed significant fusion protein antibodies and iodinated inhibin–binding capacity in the test but not control groups. Furthermore, antisera to the fusion protein in four out of seven ewes neutralized the inhibin bioactivity of ovine follicular fluid in an in–vitro bioassay. These data demonstrate that neutralization of inhibin can be effected by immunization with bovine inhibin a subunit and that such immunization results in increased ovulation rates as predicted from the biological role of inhibin as a suppressor of FSH.