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SE Stasko and GF Wagner

Stanniocalcin (STC) is a polypeptide hormone discovered first in fish and more recently in mammals. In mammals, the gene is widely expressed and the hormone is, so far, known to be involved in regulating the transport of calcium or phosphate across renal and gut epithelia, and into neuronal cells. Gene expression is also high during development, and in an earlier study we mapped the temporal and spatial pattern of gene expression in the mouse urogenital system. Our data suggested that STC probably acted as a signaling molecule that was produced in mesenchyme cells and targeted to epithelial cell layers in both kidney and testes. Here we have examined STC mRNA and protein distributions between developmental stages E10.5 and E18.5 in the axial and appendicular skeleton. In the axial skeleton, STC was transiently expressed in a rostral-caudal fashion during vertebral development; protein appeared to be made in intervertebral disc mesenchyme cells and targeted to vertebral hypertrophic and prehypertrophic chondrocytes. By stage E18.5, the STC gene was active only in vertebral perichondrocytes. The pattern of expression in the appendicular skeleton was equally striking. Early in development, STC gene expression defined the initial lengths of bone primordia. The gene was expressed in mesenchyme cells at either ends of precartilaginous condensations defining future long bones and the secreted protein was targeted to the chondroblasts. Later on during joint formation, STC was highly expressed in interzone cells that defined all future joints. After cavitation, STC gene expression was greatest in perichondrocytes lining the joints. Underlying resting, proliferative and prehypertrophic chondrocytes appeared to be the targets of STC both during and after cavitation. Therefore, its pattern of expression was indicative of a role in early skeletal patterning and joint formation. Moreover, as occurs during urogenital development, it appeared that STC is made in undifferentiated mesenchyme cells and sequestered by those destined to differentiate.

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TC Groves, GF Wagner, and GE DiMattia

Stanniocalcin (STC) is a glycoprotein hormone first discovered in fish as a homeostatic regulator of calcium and phosphate transport; it has recently been discovered in mammals, in which it appears to have a similar role. It has also been implicated in a number of different physiological processes through correlative studies, but the factors regulating its production have not been elucidated. In this report, we show that steady-state STC mRNA levels in the mouse corticotrope tumor line, AtT-20, were exquisitely sensitive to glucocorticoids. Hydrocortisone and dexamethasone (Dex) induced a dramatic reduction in steady-state STC mRNA levels in AtT-20 cells through a post-transcriptional mechanism. Similarly, glucocorticoids down-regulated STC mRNA levels in the human fibrosarcoma cell line, HT1080. The specificity of the glucocorticoid-mediated decrease in STC mRNA abundance was shown using the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, RU-486. Activation of the cAMP-signaling pathway in glucocorticoid-cultured AtT-20 cells transiently restored STC gene expression. Treatment of AtT-20 cells with the transcriptional inhibitor, actinomycin D, rescued steady-state STC mRNA levels from Dex-induced repression, indicating that the Dex-mediated decrease in STC gene expression requires current gene transcription. Taken together, these results describe a unique model system in which cAMP-stimulated events can reverse post-transcriptional repression of gene expression by glucocorticoids.

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GF Wagner, EM Jaworski, and DP Radman

Gill Ca2+ transport (GCAT) in fish is regulated by a number of different hormones. Stanniocalcin (STC) from the corpuscles of Stannius (CS) is an inhibitor of GCAT, whereas pituitary-derived prolactin and cortisol stimulate GCAT. Other than this, however, little is known about the effects of other hormones on this important transport process. The role of calcitonin (CT) in calcium homeostasis in fish is still controversial. Whereas many studies have shown significant effects of CT on plasma calcium levels, an equal number of studies have failed to find any correlations between plasma calcium and CT levels in fish. Previous in vitro studies have shown that salmon CT has potent inhibitory effects on GCAT in isolated, perfused fish gill preparations, a finding that has never been corroborated in vivo. Therefore, in this report we examined the effects of salmon CT on whole body 45Ca uptake (as a measure of GCAT) in young rainbow trout. In support of the in vitro findings, we found that CT had significant inhibitory effects on GCAT. In parallel studies, we found that CT had no effects on STC secretion and only modest, stimulatory effects on STC mRNA levels in cultured trout CS cells. These finding suggest that both CT and STC function as negative regulators of GCAT in fish.

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CK Wong, MA Ho, and GF Wagner

Stanniocalcin (STC) is a glycoprotein hormone that was first discovered in fish and recently identified in mammals. STC immunoreactive (STCir) cells have been identified in rat kidney and there is also evidence that the hormone functions as a regulator of renal phosphate homeostasis. In the present study we have identified STCir cells and tubules in the rat kidney by correlative immunocytochemistry using antibodies to STC and specific antigenic markers (Tamm-Horsfall protein and anion exchanger-1). The cellular sites of STC gene expression were also identified by in situ hybridization. Correlative immunocytochemistry revealed that STCir was present in all proximal straight tubule cells, all cortical thick ascending limb cells, all distal convoluted tubule cells, and both principal and alpha-intercalated cells of the collecting duct system. On the other hand, in situ hybridization revealed that the STC gene was expressed only in cortical and medullary collecting duct cells. This suggests either that STC is being sequestered by segments that do not express the gene (making them putative targets of the hormone), or that STC mRNA levels were simply too low in these other segments to be detected by in situ hybridization.

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CR McCudden, MR Kogon, GE DiMattia, and GF Wagner

It is currently accepted that the fish stanniocalcin (STC) gene is expressed exclusively in the corpuscles of Stannius (CS), unique endocrine glands on the kidneys of bony fishes. In this study, we have re-examined the pattern of fish STC gene expression in the light of the recent evidence for widespread expression of the gene in mammals. Surprisingly, we found by Northern blotting that the fish gene was also expressed in the kidneys and gonads, in addition to the CS glands. Moreover, Southern blotting of RT-PCR products revealed STC mRNA transcripts in all tissues assayed, including brain, heart, gill, muscle and intestine. In situ hybridization studies using digoxigenin-labeled riboprobes localized STC mRNA to chondrocytes, and both mature and developing nephritic tubules. Immunocytochemical staining indicated that the STC protein was widespread in cells of the gill, kidney, brain, eye, pseudobranch and skin. We also characterized the salmon STC gene, establishing that it was comprised of five exons as opposed to four in mammals. A single transcription start site was identified by primer extension 99 bp upstream of the start codon. This is the first evidence of STC gene expression in fish tissues other than the CS glands and suggests that, as in mammals, fish STC operates via both local and endocrine pathways.

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CK Wong, HY Yeung, NK Mak, GE DiMattia, DK Chan, and GF Wagner

Stanniocalcin is a polypeptide hormone that was first reported in fish as a regulator of mineral metabolism. Its recent identification in mammals has opened a new area of investigation in basic and clinical endocrinology. In the present study, regulation of the stanniocalcin (STC) and stanniocalcin related protein (STCrP) genes were investigated in mouse neuroblastoma cells (Neuro-2A) in relation to neuronal cell differentiation. Neuro-2A is an undifferentiated cell line that contains measurable levels of STCrP mRNA, but undetectable levels of STC mRNA. Treatment of the cells with either dbcAMP (1-4 mM) or 50 microM euxanthone (PW1) resulted in extensive differentiation and neurite outgrowth. However, only neurites of dbcAMP-treated cells developed varicosities, a phenotypic marker of axon formation. Furthermore, following differentiation induced by dbcAMP, there was an upregulation of STC and downregulation of STCrP mRNA levels. In the first 24 and 48 h of treatments, there was a maximum twofold induction and 1.5-fold reduction in STC and STCrP mRNAs respectively. Following 96 h of treatment, an additional 14-fold STC induction and 1.2-fold STCrP reduction were observed. The increase in STC mRNA levels was accompanied by a concomitant increase in axon-specific low molecular form microtubule-associated protein (MAP-2c) mRNA and varicosities on the neurites, suggesting a possible role for STC in axonogenesis. There was no induction of STC mRNA levels when PW1 was added into the culture media, whereas ionomycin (1-10 microM) had no observable effects on cell differentiation or STC/STCrP mRNA. Immunocytochemical staining of dbcAMP-treated cells revealed abundant levels of immunoreactive STC, particularly in the varicosities, with only weak staining in control, untreated cells. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides transfection studies indicated that the expression of STC was a cause of varicosity formation and a consequence of cell differentiation. Our findings lend further support to the notion that STC is involved in the process of neural differentiation.