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J Franklin, J Hislop, A Flynn, and CA McArdle

Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone receptors (GnRH-Rs) are found in cancers of reproductive tissues, including those of the prostate, and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) can inhibit growth of cell lines derived from such cancers. Although pituitary and extra-pituitary GnRH-R transcripts appear identical, their functional characteristics may differ. Most extra-pituitary GnRH-Rs have low affinity for GnRH analogues and may not activate phospholipase C or discriminate between agonists and antagonists in the same way as do pituitary GnRH-Rs. Here we have assessed whether GnRH-Rs expressed exogenously in prostate cancer cells differ functionally from those of gonadotrophs. We found no evidence for endogenous GnRH-Rs in PC3 cells, but after infection with adenovirus expressing the GnRH-R (Ad GnRH-R) at 10 plaque forming units (p.f.u.)/cell or greater, at least 80% of the cells expressed GnRH-Rs. These sites had high affinity (K(d )for [(125)I]Buserelin 1.1+/-0.4 nM) and specificity (rank order of potency: Buserelin> GnRH>>chicken (c) GnRH-II), and mediated stimulation of [(3)H]inositol phosphate (IP) accumulation. Increasing viral titre from 3 to 300 p.f.u./cell increased receptor number (2000 to 275 000 sites/cell respectively) and [(3)H]IP responses. GnRH also caused a biphasic increase in the cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration in Ad GnRH-R-infected cells but not in control cells. Mobilization of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores contributed to the spike phase of this response whereas the plateau phase was dependent upon Ca(2+) entry across the plasma membrane. This effect on Ca(2+) and stimulation of [(3)H]IP accumulation were both blocked by the GnRH-R antagonist, Cetrorelix. In addition, GnRH reduced cell number (as measured in MTT activity assays) and DNA synthesis (as measured by [(3)H]thymidine incorporation) in Ad GnRH-R-infected cells (but not in control cells). This effect was mimicked by agonist analogues and inhibited by two antagonists. Thus, when exogenous GnRH-Rs are expressed at a density comparable to that in gonadotrophs, they are functionally indistinguishable from the endogenous GnRH-Rs in gonadotrophs. Moreover, expression of high affinity GnRH-Rs can facilitate a direct anti-proliferative effect of GnRH agonists on prostate cancer cells.

Free access

CA McArdle, J Franklin, L Green, and JN Hislop

Sustained stimulation of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) typically causes receptor desensitisation, which is mediated by phosphorylation, often within the C-terminal tail of the receptor. The consequent binding of beta-arrestin not only prevents the receptor from activating its G protein (causing desensitisation), but can also target it for internalisation via clathrin-coated vesicles and can mediate signalling to proteins regulating endocytosis and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades. GnRH acts via phospholipase C (PLC)-coupled GPCRs on pituitary gonadotrophs to stimulate a Ca(2+)-mediated increase in gonadotrophin secretion. The type I GnRH receptors (GnRH-Rs), found only in mammals, are unique in that they lack C-terminal tails and apparently do not undergo agonist-induced phosphorylation or bind beta-arrestin; they are therefore resistant to receptor desensitisation and internalise slowly. In contrast, the type II GnRH-Rs, found in numerous vertebrates, possess such tails and show rapid desensitisation and internalisation, with concomitant receptor phosphorylation (within the C-terminal tails) or binding of beta-arrestin, or both. The association with beta-arrestin may also be important for regulation of dynamin, a GTPase that controls separation of endosomes from the plasma membrane. Using recombinant adenovirus to express GnRH-Rs in Hela cells conditionally expressing a dominant negative mutant of dynamin (K44A), we have found that blockade of dynamin-dependent endocytosis inhibits internalisation of type II (xenopus) GnRH-Rs but not type I (human) GnRH-Rs. In these cells, blockade of dynamin-dependent internalisation also inhibited GnRH-R-mediated MAPK activation, but this effect was not receptor specific and therefore not dependent upon dynamin-regulated GnRH-R internalisation. Although type I GnRH-Rs do not desensitise, sustained activation of GnRH-Rs causes desensitisation of gonadotrophin secretion, and we have found that GnRH can cause down-regulation of inositol (1,4,5) trisphosphate receptors and desensitisation of Ca(2+) mobilisation in pituitary cells. The atypical resistance of the GnRH-R to desensitisation may underlie its atypical efficiency at provoking this downstream adaptive response. GnRH-Rs are also expressed in several extrapituitary sites, and these may mediate direct inhibition of proliferation of hormone-dependent cancer cells. Infection with type I GnRH-R-expressing adenovirus facilitated expression of high-affinity, PLC-coupled GnRH-R in mammary and prostate cancer cells, and these mediated pronounced antiproliferative effects of receptor agonists. No such effect was seen in cells transfected with a type II GnRH-R, implying that it is mediated most efficiently by a non-desensitising receptor. Thus it appears that the mammalian GnRH-Rs have undergone a period of rapidly accelerated molecular evolution that is of functional relevance to GnRH-Rs in pituitary and extrapituitary sites.

Free access

Astrid C Hauge-Evans, James Bowe, Zara J Franklin, Zoheb Hassan, and Peter M Jones

The inhibitory effect of somatostatin (SST) on insulin secretion in vivo is attributed to a direct effect on pancreatic beta cells, but this is inconsistent with some in vitro results in which exogenous SST is ineffective in inhibiting secretion from isolated islets. We therefore investigated whether insulin secretion from the pancreatic islets may partly be regulated by an indirect effect of SST mediated via the CNS. Islet hormone secretion was assessed in vitro by perifusion and static incubations of isolated islets and in vivo by i.v. or i.c.v. administration of the SST analogue BIM23014C with an i.v. glucose challenge to conscious, chronically catheterised rats. Hormone content of samples was assessed by ELISA or RIA and blood glucose levels using a glucose meter. Exogenous SST14/SST28 or BIM23014C did not inhibit the release of insulin from isolated rodent islets in vitro, whereas peripheral i.v. administration of BIM23014C (7.5 μg) with glucose (1 g/kg) led to decreased plasma insulin content (2.3±0.5 ng insulin/ml versus 4.5±0.5 ng/ml at t=5 min, P<0.001) and elevated blood glucose levels compared with those of the controls (29.19±1.3 mmol/l versus 23.5±1.7 mmol/l, P<0.05). In contrast, central i.c.v. injection of BIM23014C (0.75 μg) had no significant effect on either plasma insulin (3.3±0.4 ng/ml, P>0.05) or blood glucose levels (23.5±1.7 mmol/l, P>0.05) although i.v. administration of this dose increased blood glucose concentrations (32.3±0.7 mmol/l, P<0.01). BIM23014C did not measurably alter plasma glucagon, SST, GLP1 or catecholamine levels whether injected i.v. or i.c.v. These results indicate that SST does not suppress insulin secretion by a centrally mediated effect but acts peripherally on islet cells.

Free access

James E Bowe, Zara J Franklin, Astrid C Hauge-Evans, Aileen J King, Shanta J Persaud, and Peter M Jones

The pathophysiology of diabetes as a disease is characterised by an inability to maintain normal glucose homeostasis. In type 1 diabetes, this is due to autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic β-cells and subsequent lack of insulin production, and in type 2 diabetes it is due to a combination of both insulin resistance and an inability of the β-cells to compensate adequately with increased insulin release. Animal models, in particular genetically modified mice, are increasingly being used to elucidate the mechanisms underlying both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and as such the ability to study glucose homeostasis in vivo has become an essential tool. Several techniques exist for measuring different aspects of glucose tolerance and each of these methods has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Thus the appropriate methodology may vary from study to study depending on the desired end-points, the animal model, and other practical considerations. This review outlines the most commonly used techniques for assessing glucose tolerance in rodents and details the factors that should be taken into account in their use. Representative scenarios illustrating some of the practical considerations of designing in vivo experiments for the measurement of glucose homeostasis are also discussed.

Free access

L M McShane, N Irwin, D O’Flynn, Z J Franklin, C M Hewage, and F P M O’Harte

Ablation of glucagon receptor signaling represents a potential treatment option for type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Additionally, activation of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptor signaling also holds therapeutic promise for T2DM. Therefore, this study examined both independent and combined metabolic actions of desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon (glucagon receptor antagonist) and d-Ala2GIP (GIP receptor agonist) in diet-induced obese mice. Glucagon receptor binding has been linked to alpha-helical structure and desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon displayed enhanced alpha-helical content compared with native glucagon. In clonal pancreatic BRIN-BD11 beta-cells, desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon was devoid of any insulinotropic or cAMP-generating actions, and did not impede d-Ala2GIP-mediated (P<0.01 to P<0.001) effects on insulin and cAMP production. Twice-daily injection of desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon or d-Ala2GIP alone, and in combination, in high-fat-fed mice failed to affect body weight or energy intake. Circulating blood glucose levels were significantly (P<0.05 to P<0.01) decreased by all treatments regimens, with plasma and pancreatic insulin elevated (P<0.05 to P<0.001) in all mice receiving d-Ala2GIP. Interestingly, plasma glucagon concentrations were decreased (P<0.05) by sustained glucagon inhibition (day 28), but increased (P<0.05) by d-Ala2GIP therapy, with a combined treatment resulting in glucagon concentration similar to saline controls. All treatments improved (P<0.01) intraperitoneal and oral glucose tolerance, and peripheral insulin sensitivity. d-Ala2GIP-treated mice showed increased glucose-induced insulin secretion in response to intraperitoneal and oral glucose. Metabolic rate and ambulatory locomotor activity were increased (P<0.05 to P<0.001) in all desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon-treated mice. These studies highlight the potential of glucagon receptor inhibition alone, and in combination with GIP receptor activation, for T2DM treatment.

Open access

Ryan A Lafferty, Laura M McShane, Zara J Franklin, Peter R Flatt, Finbarr P M O’Harte, and Nigel Irwin

Discerning modification to the amino acid sequence of native glucagon can generate specific glucagon receptor (GCGR) antagonists, that include desHis1Pro4Glu9-glucagon and the acylated form desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon. In the current study, we have evaluated the metabolic benefits of once-daily injection of these peptide-based GCGR antagonists for 18 days in insulin-resistant high-fat-fed (HFF) mice with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced insulin deficiency, namely HFF-STZ mice. Administration of desHis1Pro4Glu9-glucagon moderately (P < 0.05) decreased STZ-induced elevations of food intake. Body weight was not different between groups of HFF-STZ mice and both treatment interventions delayed (P < 0.05) the onset of hyperglycaemia. The treatments reduced (P < 0.05–P < 0.001) circulating and pancreatic glucagon, whilst desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon also substantially increased (P < 0.001) pancreatic insulin stores. Oral glucose tolerance was appreciably improved (P < 0.05) by both antagonists, despite the lack of augmentation of glucose-stimulated insulin release. Interestingly, positive effects on i.p. glucose tolerance were less obvious suggesting important beneficial effects on gut function. Metabolic benefits were accompanied by decreased (P < 0.05–P < 0.01) locomotor activity and increases (P < 0.001) in energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio in both treatment groups. In addition, desHis1Pro4Glu9-glucagon increased (P < 0.01–P < 0.001) O2 consumption and CO2 production. Together, these data provide further evidence that peptidic GCGR antagonists are effective treatment options for obesity-driven forms of diabetes, even when accompanied by insulin deficiency.