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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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J.A. Franklyn, M. Wilson, J.R. Davis, D.B. Ramsden, K. Docherty and M.C. Sheppard

ABSTRACT

We have reported previously the effect of thyroid status in vivo on pituitary cytoplasmic concentrations of messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding the thyrotrophin (TSH) β-subunit (Franklyn, Lynam, Docherty et al, 1985). Studies in vitro of the regulation of TSH β gene transcription have been confined to thyrotrophic tumour cells. We now report the demonstration of TSH β-subunit mRNA in non-tumorous rat pituitary cells in primary culture. Treatment of cells with thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH) and with forskolin resulted in a marked increase in cellular concentration of TSH β-mRNA. These results suggest that TRH exerts a direct effect on the pretranslational events involved in TSH synthesis and further that the adenylate cyclase system may be involved in the regulation of synthesis. We have thus described a novel system for the study of TSH β-subunit gene expression in normal rat pituitary cells in vitro.

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J. W. Tanner, S. K. Davis, N. H. McArthur, J. T. French and T. H. Welsh Jr

ABSTRACT

The effects of endogenous hypothalamic neurohormones and activators of second messenger signalling systems on the secretion of GH and on cell content of GH mRNA of cultured bovine adenohypophysial cells were studied. Synthetic bovine GH-releasing factor (bGRF; 100 nmol/l) increased secretion of GH by bovine adenohypophysial cells five-fold relative to control. Forskolin (an adenyl cyclase activator; 10 μmol/l) and the synthetic cyclic AMP analogue dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP; 1 mmol/l) increased secretion of GH by 1·9- and 1·7-fold respectively, relative to control. The protein kinase C activator phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), provided at 1 μmol/l or 10 nmol/l, increased GH secretion by 6·6- and four-fold respectively, relative to control. Somatostatin-14 (SRIF-14) attenuated basal, bGRF-, forskolin- and dbcAMP-stimulated secretion of GH by 40, 49, 47 and 67% respectively, but did not, however, diminish PMA-stimulated GH secretion. The content of GH mRNA in cultured bovine adenohypophysial cells increased 2·2-, 1·7- and 3·2-fold by administration of bGRF, forskolin and PMA respectively, relative to control. Although GH mRNA content was unchanged by SRIF-14 treatment relative to control, SRIF-14 did reduce bGRF-stimulated bGH mRNA content by 67%. This study demonstrates that mechanisms subserving GH secretion in bovine adenohypophysial cells (e.g. adenyl cyclase and protein kinase C) may be coupled with mechanisms which regulate expression of the GH gene or with factors affecting message stability.

Journal of Endocrinology (1990) 125, 109–115

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Davis JR, RF McMahon, PR Lowenstein, MG Castro, GA Lincoln and AS McNeilly

Gene therapy for pituitary disease requires evaluation for safety as well as efficacy. We have reported results of adenovirus-mediated gene transfer using the sheep as a large animal model that allows longitudinal evaluation of hormone secretion and have confirmed high levels of transgene expression up to 7 days after direct stereotaxic injection into the pituitary gland. Here we report the results of detailed histological examination of the pituitary glands from animals injected with two recombinant adenoviruses expressing the beta-galactosidase marker gene, or with saline vehicle to control for the potential tissue-disruptive effect of the injection volume itself. Pituitaries injected with saline showed no evidence of inflammatory response apart from occasional minor foci of apoptosis. In all other respects they were indistinguishable from normal uninjected control pituitary glands. Glands injected with recombinant adenoviruses containing either the hCMV-beta-gal or the hPRL-beta-gal transgene, on the other hand, displayed variable degrees of inflammatory response, with periglandular fibrosis, lymphocytic infiltrate and venulitis in almost all cases. Focal necrosis and/or apoptosis was noted in six of nine cases. In summary, we have found evidence of severe inflammatory reaction within the first seven days of adenovirus injection, amounting to significant hypophysitis. The histological extent of this reaction has not previously been recognised by studies of the efficacy of gene transfer in rodents, and was underestimated by immunocytochemical studies of hormone and transgene expression. The findings emphasise the need for careful evaluation of the safety of endocrine gene therapy, and for caution with the dose of vector used.

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JA Stirland, ZC Seymour, S Windeatt, AJ Norris, P Stanley, MG Castro, AS Loudon, MR White and Davis JR

Although analysis of luciferase activity using luminescence imaging has provided new insights into the dynamic regulation of gene expression in living tIssues, studies in vitro have relied on stably transfected clonal cell lines, limiting the choice of cell type and species, or DNA microinjection, which is arduous and highly selective. We report here the first use of a recombinant adenovirus in which the firefly luciferase reporter gene was regulated by the prolactin gene promoter, to study temporal dynamics of promoter activity. This vector was used to infect the pituitary GH3 cell line, and also primary cultures of Syrian hamster pituitary cells. We show that adenovirally transduced cells retained normal regulation of the promoter-reporter transgene by appropriate signals. Furthermore, microscopic imaging studies indicated that both clonal and primary pituitary cells were transduced efficiently, giving readily detectable luminescence signals in real-time over long periods. Finally, analysis of single-cell expression patterns indicated that prolactin promoter activity was highly dynamic with pulses in gene expression, revealing that the transcriptional instability seen in clonal cells is a feature of normal pituitary cells. Adenoviral vectors offer a valuable tool for studies of gene regulation where conventional transgenesis and clonal cell lines are not available.