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Adrian J L Clark and David W Ray

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Kerryn M Taylor, David W Ray and Paula Sommer

Proper expression of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) plays an essential role in the development of the lung. GR expression and signalling in the lung is manipulated by administration of synthetic glucocorticoids (Gcs) for the treatment of neonatal, childhood and adult lung diseases. In lung cancers, Gcs are also commonly used as co-treatment during chemotherapy. This review summarises the effect of Gc monotherapy and co-therapy on lung cancers in vitro, in mouse models of lung cancer, in xenograft, ex vivo and in vivo. The disparity between the effects of pre-clinical and in vivo Gc therapy is commented on in light of the recent discovery of GR as a novel tumour suppressor gene.

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ELizabeth K Fletcher, Monica Kanki, James Morgan, David W Ray, Lea Delbridge, Peter James Fuller, Colin D Clyne and Morag Young

We previously identified a critical pathogenic role for MR activation in cardiomyocytes that included a potential interaction between the MR and the molecular circadian clock. While glucocorticoid regulation of the circadian clock is undisputed, MR interactions with circadian clock signalling are limited. We hypothesised that the MR influences cardiac circadian clock signalling, and vice versa. 10nM aldosterone or corticosterone regulated CRY 1, PER1, PER2 and ReverbA (NR1D1) gene expression patterns in H9c2 cells over 24hr. MR-dependent regulation of circadian gene promoters containing GREs and E-box sequences was established for CLOCK, Bmal, CRY 1 and CRY2, PER1 and PER2 and transcriptional activators CLOCK and Bmal modulated MR-dependent transcription of a subset of these promoters. We also demonstrated differential regulation of MR target gene expression in hearts of mice 4hr after administration of aldosterone at 8AM versus 8PM. Our data support combined MR regulation of a subset of circadian genes and that endogenous circadian transcription factors CLOCK and Bmal modulate this response. This unsuspected relationship links MR in the heart to circadian rhythmicity at the molecular level and has important implications for the biology of MR signalling in response to aldosterone as well as cortisol. These data are consistent with MR signalling in the brain where, like the heart, it preferentially responds to cortisol. Given the undisputed requirement for diurnal cortisol release in the entrainment of peripheral clocks, the present study highlights the MR as an important mechanism for transducing the circadian actions of cortisol in addition to the GR in the heart.

Open access

Nan Yang, Giorgio Caratti, Louise M Ince, Toryn M Poolman, Peter J Trebble, Cathy M Holt, David W Ray and Laura C Matthews

Glucocorticoids (Gc) are potent anti-inflammatory agents with wide clinical application. We have previously shown that increased serum concentration significantly attenuates regulation of a simple Gc-responsive reporter. We now find that glucocorticoid receptor (GR) regulation of some endogenous transactivated but not transrepressed genes is impaired, suggesting template specificity. Serum did not directly affect GR expression, activity or trafficking, implicating GR crosstalk with other signalling pathways. Indeed, a JNK inhibitor completely abolished the serum effect. We identified the Gc modulating serum component as cholesterol. Cholesterol loading mimicked the serum effect, which was readily reversed by JNK inhibition. Chelation of serum cholesterol with methyl-β-cyclodextrin or inhibition of cellular cholesterol synthesis with simvastatin potentiated the Gc response. To explore the effect in vivo we used ApoE −/− mice, a model of hypercholesterolaemia. Consistent with our in vitro studies, we find no impact of elevated cholesterol on the expression of GR, or on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, measured by dexamethasone suppression test. Instead we find selective Gc resistance on some hepatic target genes in ApoE −/− mice. Therefore, we have discovered an unexpected role for cholesterol as a selective modulator of Gc action in vivo. Taken together these findings reveal a new environmental constraint on Gc action with relevance to both inflammation and cancer.

Open access

Lisa Rice, Charlotte E Waters, Jennifer Eccles, Helen Garside, Paula Sommer, Paul Kay, Fiona H Blackhall, Leo Zeef, Brian Telfer, Ian Stratford, Rob Clarke, Dave Singh, Adam Stevens, Anne White and David W Ray

Glucocorticoid (GC) receptors (GRs) have profound anti-survival effects on human small cell lung cancer (SCLC). To explore the basis of these effects, protein partners for GRs were sought using a yeast two-hybrid screen. We discovered a novel gene, FAM33A, subsequently identified as a SKA1 partner and involved in mitosis, and so renamed Ska2. We produced an anti-peptide antibody that specifically recognized full-length human SKA2 to measure expression in human cell lines and tissues. There was a wide variation in expression across multiple cell lines, but none was detected in the liver cell line HepG2. A xenograft model of human SCLC had intense staining and archival tissue revealed SKA2 in several human lung and breast tumours. SKA2 was found in the cytoplasm, where it co-localized with GR, but nuclear expression of SKA2 was seen in breast tumours. SKA2 overexpression increased GC transactivation in HepG2 cells while SKA2 knockdown in A549 human lung epithelial cells decreased transactivation and prevented dexamethasone inhibition of proliferation. GC treatment decreased SKA2 protein levels in A549 cells, as did Staurosporine, phorbol ester and trichostatin A; all agents that inhibit cell proliferation. Overexpression of SKA2 potentiated the proliferative response to IGF-I exposure, and knockdown with shRNA caused cells to arrest in mitosis. SKA2 has recently been identified in HeLa S3 cells as part of a complex, which is critical for spindle checkpoint silencing and exit from mitosis. Our new data show involvement in cell proliferation and GC signalling, with implications for understanding how GCs impact on cell fate.