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F Talamantes and R Ortiz

GH-binding protein (GHBP) in the mouse consists of a ligand-binding domain, which is identical to the extracellular portion of the GH receptor (GHR), and a hydrophilic C-terminal domain, in place of the transmembrane and intracellular domains of the GHR. The two proteins are encoded by separate mRNAs which are derived from a single gene by alternative splicing. Determination of the gestational profiles of GHR and GHBP mRNA expression in mouse liver and placenta shows that in the liver, the 1.4 kb mRNA corresponding to the mouse GHBP increases approximately 20-fold between non-pregnant and late pregnant mice, whereas the relative increase in the expression of the 4.2 kb mouse GHR was 8-fold. The rise in the steady-state levels of both mRNAs began on day 9 of gestation. Mouse GHBP mRNA levels continue to rise until day 15 of pregnancy, while GHR mRNA abundance reaches a plateau by day 13. By elucidating the temporal changes in GHR and GHBP mRNA abundance during pregnancy and lactation in multiple maternal tissues and by assessing the ontogeny of these mRNAs in fetal and early postnatal mouse liver, our studies have demonstrated that the alternative splicing of mouse GHR/GHBP mRNA precursor is regulated in a tissue-, developmental stage- and physiological state-specific manner. In vitro studies using hepatocytes in culture have begun to elucidate the hormonal factor(s) involved in the gestation control of the expression of GHR and GHBP. Treatment of hepatocytes with GH or estradiol (E2) alone did not have any effect on the cellular concentrations of GHBP and GHR. However, the combination of E2 and GH up-regulated the cellular concentrations of GHBP and GHR 2- to 3-fold. GHBP and GHR mRNA concentrations were also up-regulated 2- to 3-fold. ICI 182-780, a competitive inhibitor of E2 for the estrogen receptor (ER), at different concentrations inhibited the E2- and GH-induced stimulation of GHBP and GHR. Furthermore, ER concentrations increased 5- to 7-fold in hepatocytes treated with E2 and GH compared with those in untreated cells or cells treated with either E2 or GH alone. Our studies in the mouse suggest that GHBP is an important cell-surface receptor for GH in the liver. These studies postulate that an arginine-glycine-aspartic acid sequence found on mouse GHBP but absent in other species is responsible for the association of GHBP with the plasma membrane by binding to one or more integrins on the surface of liver cells.

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JG Moffat, H Dao, and F Talamantes

Heterogeneity of 5' untranslated region (5'UTR) sequences is a common feature of growth hormone receptor/binding protein (GHR/BP) mRNA from a number of species. Two major 5'UTR sequences (designated L1 and L2 in the mouse) have been cloned from rodents, ruminants and primates, and are known to correspond to transcripts generated from independently regulated promoters. A variable number of other 5'UTRs with diverse sequences have been cloned from rat, human and bovine tissues. To characterize alternative 5'UTR usage in mouse GHR/BP mRNA, we carried out 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends using RNA from non-pregnant mouse liver and adipose tissue. Three novel 5'UTR sequences were obtained. Sequencing of genomic DNA revealed that exons corresponding to these three sequences are clustered within 1 kb downstream of the exon encoding 5'UTR L2, and the associated L2 promoter. The novel 5'UTRs are present at very low levels relative to the total pool of GHR/BP mRNA in liver, fat, kidney, and mammary gland as determined by ribonuclease protection assays. On the basis of these data, we propose that these 5'UTR sequences may result from the use of cryptic transcription start sites and splice donor sites under the influence of the adjacent L2 promoter/enhancer region.

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Division of Natural Sciences and Oakes College, Thimann Laboratories, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, U.S.A.

(Received 6 May 1977)

The luteotrophic activity of human placental lactogen (HPL) in non-primates was demonstrated by its ability to maintain the induced decidual reaction in hypophysectomized pseudopregnant rats (Josimovich, Atwood & Goss, 1963). In the mouse, HPL has been reported to induce hyperaemia of corpora lutea of ovulation in non-parous mice (Kavocic, 1968). However, because of the design of the study, it was not possible to determine the duration of hyperaemia in those HPL-induced corpora lutea.

Ovarian isografts in male mice develop mature follicles that only rarely luteinize spontaneously. Such follicles luteinize upon the administration of luteinizing hormone (LH) and the resultant corpora lutea only show hyperaemia of function if a luteotrophic hormone is then given (Browning, 1968). The present investigation was undertaken to examine the hyperaemic response of ovarian isografts in

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M. J. Soares and F. Talamantes

The concentrations of androgen, progesterone and prolactin-like activity in serum, placentae and media from placental incubations during the second half of pregnancy in the C3H mouse were evaluated. Serum concentrations, placental content and in-vitro placental release of androgen were raised on day 10 of pregnancy. Serum progesterone levels showed minor fluctuations during the second half of gestation, whereas placental content and in-vitro release of progesterone were increased on day 10 of gestation. The serum profile of prolactin-like activity showed a significant mid-pregnancy increase on day 10 which did not correlate with placental content or in-vitro placental release of prolactin-like activity. The placental content and in-vitro release of prolactin-like activity were low during midpregnancy and increased during the latter days of gestation when serum prolactin-like activity was reduced.

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YN Ilkbahar, G Thordarson, IG Camarillo, and F Talamantes

Increasing evidence suggests that GH is important in normal mammary gland development. To investigate this further, we studied the distribution and levels of growth hormone receptor (GHR) and GH-binding protein (GHBP) in the mouse mammary gland. At three weeks of age, the epithelial component of the right fourth inguinal mammary gland of female mice was removed. These animals were then either maintained as virgins until they were killed or they were mated. One group of the mated mice was killed on day 18 of pregnancy and the remaining mated animals were allowed to carry their pups until term and were killed on day 6 of lactation. At the time of death, both the intact left and the de-epithelialized right mammary glands were collected from all three groups. Some of the intact glands served as a source of epithelial cells, free of stroma. The mRNA levels for GHR and GHBP were measured in intact glands, epithelia-cleared fat pads, and isolated mammary epithelial cells. GHR and GHBP mRNAs were expressed in both the mammary epithelium and stroma. However, the levels of both GHR and GHBP mRNAs were significantly higher in the stroma as compared with the epithelium component. This increase for both mRNAs was from 3- to 12-fold at each physiological state examined. In the intact gland, both GHR and GHBP transcripts were highest in virgins, declined during late pregnancy, and the lowest levels were found in the lactating gland. GHBP and GHR protein concentrations were also assessed in intact glands and epithelia-free fat pads. Similar to the mRNAs, GHR and GHBP protein levels (means+/-s.e.m.) in intact glands were highest in virgin mice (0.891+/-0.15 pmoles/mg protein and 0.136+/-0.26 pmoles/mg protein respectively), declined during late pregnancy (0. 354+/-0.111 pmoles/mg protein and 0.178+/-0.039 pmoles/mg protein respectively), and were lowest during lactation (0.096+0.037 pmoles/mg protein and 0.017+0.006 pmoles/mg protein respectively). Immunocytochemistry utilizing specific antisera against mouse (m) GHR and mGHBP revealed that the two proteins are localized to both the stroma and parenchyma of mouse mammary glands, with similar patterns of immunostaining throughout the different physiological stages analyzed. GHR immunolocalized to the plasma membrane and cytosol of mammary epithelial cells and adipocytes, whereas the GHBP immunostaining was nuclear and cytosolic. In conclusion, we report here that GHR and GHBP mRNAs and proteins are expressed in both the epithelium and the stroma of mammary glands of virgin, pregnant, and lactating mice. In intact glands, GHR and GHBP proteins, as well as their transcripts are higher in abundance in virgin relative to lactating mice. At all physiological stages, GHR and GHBP mRNA levels are higher in the stroma compared with the parenchyma. These findings indicate that the actions of GH in the mammary gland are both direct through its binding to the epithelia, and indirect by binding to the stroma and stimulation of IGF-I production which, in turn, affects mammary epithelial development.

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RM Ortiz, DP Noren, CL Ortiz, and F Talamantes

After nursing, pups of the northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) are approximately 46% body fat and rely almost entirely on the oxidation of their large fat stores to sustain their metabolism for the ensuing 8-12 week postweaning fast, which is a natural component of their life history. Thus, fasting pups provide an ideal opportunity to examine the hormonal alterations associated with prolonged food deprivation in a naturally adapted model. Cortisol, ghrelin, glucagon, growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), insulin, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), glucose and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) were examined in 20 male and 20 female pups blood sampled early (<1 week postweaning) and late (6-8 weeks postweaning) during the fast. Mean cortisol, ghrelin, GH, and glucagon increased 1.8-, 1.8-, 1.4-, and 2.3-fold between early and late periods, while mean IGF-I and insulin decreased 97% and 38%, respectively. NEFA increased 2.3-fold, while BUN and glucose decreased 46% and 11%, respectively. NEFA was significantly and positively correlated with cortisol and GH; individually; however, when the relationship was examined as a multiple regression the correlation improved suggesting that cortisol and GH act synergistically to promote lipolysis during the fast. GH and BUN were negatively and significantly correlated between early and late fasting suggesting that GH may promote protein sparing as well. The decrease in glucose may be responsible for stimulating glucagon, resulting in the maintenance of relative hyperglycemia. The increases in cortisol, ghrelin, glucagon, and GH suggest that these hormones may be integral in mediating the metabolism of seal pups during prolonged fasting.

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A. Bartke, H. G. Klemcke, A. G. Amador, and F. Talamantes


Gonadal atrophy induced by short photoperiods in male golden hamsters is accompanied by a decrease in the total content of testicular prolactin and LH/human chorionic gonadotrophin (LH/hCG) receptors and a concomitant rise in the concentration of LH receptors. Atrophic testes are typically abdominal. In this study, we have compared the effects of experimentally induced cryptorchidism and the effects of a short photoperiod on testicular prolactin and LH/hCG receptors. Cryptorchidism produced the expected decrease in testicular weight and an increase in plasma FSH concentrations, without altering plasma concentrations of LH or prolactin and with a relatively small decrease in plasma testosterone. It also produced an increase in the concentration of prolactin and LH/hCG receptors without significant changes in their total content. Exposure to a short photoperiod decreased weights of testes and seminal vesicles and plasma levels of prolactin and testosterone, with no significant effects on plasma gonadotrophin levels. Short photoperiod also increased the concentration of LH/hCG receptors but, in contrast to the effects of cryptorchidism, it produced a precipitous decline in the total content of testicular receptors for both prolactin and LH/hCG. We conclude that changes in prolactin and hCG binding measured in membrane preparations from decapsulated testes of hamsters exposed to a short photoperiod cannot be explained by the abdominal position of the gonads, abnormalities of Sertoli cell function or changes in the relative proportion of Leydig cells in the atrophic testes.

J. Endocr. (1984) 103, 227–231

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RJ Cerio, F Xing, RJ Fatula, DE Keith, X Yang, F Talamantes, and JN Southard

It has previously been shown that the large increase in GH-binding capacity of mouse liver microsomes during pregnancy is due largely to an increase in the amount of GH-binding protein (GHBP), with a more modest increase in GH receptor (GHR). Here we show that mouse liver GHBP is predominantly present as a membrane-associated protein structurally distinct from the soluble form of GHBP present in serum. Liver GHBP is associated with both intracellular membranes and the plasma membrane. Membrane-associated GHBP and soluble GHBP appear to be identical polypeptides distinguished by the addition of different N-glycans to asparagine residues. The pattern of release of GHBP from membranes by various treatments indicates that GHBP associates with membranes through noncovalent interactions with one or more membrane protein, but not with GHR. Covalent crosslinking provides evidence for several GHBP-associated membrane polypeptides, with molecular masses ranging from 58 kDa to over 200 kDa. These studies in the mouse and similar studies in the rat suggest that GHBP is an important cell-surface receptor for GH in the liver of these species. We postulate that an arginine-glycine-aspartic acid sequence found on rat and mouse GHBP but absent in other species is responsible for the association of GHBP with the plasma membrane by binding to one or more integrins on the surface of liver cells.

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IG Camarillo, G Thordarson, JG Moffat, KM Van Horn, N Binart, PA Kelly, and F Talamantes

The importance of prolactin (PRL) in regulating growth and differentiation of the mammary gland is well known. However, it is not well established whether PRL acts solely on the mammary epithelia or if it can also directly affect the mammary stroma. To determine where PRL could exert its effects within the mammary gland, we investigated the levels of expression and the localization of the PRL receptor (PRLR) in the epithelia and stroma of the rat mammary gland at different physiological stages. For these studies, we isolated parenchymal-free 'cleared' fat pads and intact mammary glands from virgin, 18-day-pregnant and 6-day-lactating rats. In addition, intact mammary tissues were enzymatically digested to obtain epithelial cells, free of stroma. The mammary tissues, intact gland, stroma and isolated epithelia, were then used for immunocytochemistry, protein extraction and isolation of total RNA. PRLR protein was detected in tissues using specific polyclonal antisera (PRLR-l) by immunocytochemistry and Western blot analysis. Messenger RNA for PRLR was measured by ribonuclease protection assay. Immunocytochemistry and Western blots with the PRLR-1 antisera detected PRLR in wild-type rat and mouse tissues, whereas the receptor protein was absent in tissues from PRLR gene-deficient mice. PRLR was found to be present both in the epithelia and stroma of mammary glands from virgin, pregnant and lactating rats, as determined by immunocytochemistry and Western blotting. Western blots revealed the predominance of three bands migrating at 88, 90 and 92 kDa in each of the rat mammary samples. These represent the long form of the PRLR. During pregnancy and lactation, PRLR protein increased in the epithelial compartment of the mammary gland but did not change within the stromal compartment at any physiological stage examined. We also found PRLR mRNA in both the epithelia and stroma of the mammary gland. Again, the stroma contained lower levels of PRLR mRNA compared with the epithelia at all physiological stages examined. Also, the PRLR mRNA levels within the stroma did not change significantly during pregnancy or lactation, whereas PRLR mRNA within the epithelia increased twofold during pregnancy and fourfold during lactation when compared with virgin rats. We conclude from this study that PRLR is expressed both in the stromal and epithelial compartment of the mammary gland. This finding suggests PRL may have a direct affect on the mammary stroma and by that route affect mammary gland development.

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M Yamaguchi, L Ogren, R Barnard, T Imai, T Sawada, A Miyake, and F Talamantes


The placental members of the prolactin-GH-placental lactogen (PL) gene family of the mouse include mPL-I, mPL-II, proliferin (PLF) and proliferin-related protein (PRP). The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) on the secretion of these proteins in primary cultures of placental cells from days 7, 9 and 12 of pregnancy. The effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) on the secretion of PLF and PRP were also determined. EGF has previously been shown to stimulate mPL-I and inhibit mPL-II secretion. Incubation of placental cells from day 7 of pregnancy for 5 days with 10 nmol human (h)TNF-α/1 did not affect the mPL-II concentration of the medium, but similar treatment of cells from days 9 or 12 of pregnancy resulted in a significant reduction in the mPL-II concentration of the medium by the second or third day of culture. The intracellular concentration of mPL-II, the number of cells that released mPL-II as assessed by reverse haemolytic plaque assay, and steady-state levels of mPL-II mRNA as assessed by Northern analysis were also reduced by hTNF-α treatment. The lowest concentration of hTNF-α that significantly inhibited mPL-II secretion by cells from day 12 of pregnancy was 0·01 nmol/l. hTNF-α treatment did not affect the secretion of mPL-I, PLF or PRP, as assessed by the concentrations of these proteins in the medium during a 5-day incubation. Incubation of the cells with 20 ng EGF/ml also did not affect the PLF or PRP concentration of the medium during 5 days of culture. To determine whether the effect of hTNF-α on mPL-II secretion was mediated by interleukin-6 (IL-6), the IL-6 concentration of the medium of control and hTNF-α-treated cells was determined. Bioactive and immuno-reactive IL-6 could not be detected in medium from either treatment group. The presence of binding sites for hTNF-α was assessed in cells from day 12 of pregnancy. Scatchard analysis detected a single class of binding sites having a Kd of 1·61±0·34 nmol/l, with about 1350 sites per cell. The results of this study demonstrate that hTNF-α inhibits the secretion of mPL-II by placental cells from days 9 and 12 of pregnancy, suggesting that TNF-α may be one of the factors that regulate the production of this hormone in vivo.

Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 143, 95–105