During normal pregnancy, dramatically increased placental blood flow is critical for fetal growth and survival as well as neonatal birth weights and survivability. This increased blood flow results from angiogenesis, vasodilatation, and vascular remodeling. Locally produced growth factors including fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) are key regulators of placental endothelial functions including cell proliferation, migration, and vasodilatation. However, the precise signaling mechanisms underlying such regulation in fetoplacental endothelium are less well defined, specifically with regard to the interactions amongst protein kinases (PKs), protein phosphatase, and nitric oxide (NO). Recently, we and other researchers have obtained solid evidence showing that different signaling mechanisms participate in FGF2- and VEGFA-regulated fetoplacental endothelial cell proliferation and migration as well as NO production. This review will briefly summarize currently available data on signaling mediating fetoplacental angiogenesis with a specific emphasis on PKs, ERK1/2, AKT1, and p38 MAPK and protein phosphatases, PPP2 and PPP3.
Kai Wang and Jing Zheng
Yuxun Zhou, Li Tong, Maochun Wang, Xueying Chang, Sijia Wang, Kai Li and Junhua Xiao
Puberty onset is a complex trait regulated by multiple genetic and environmental factors. In this study, we narrowed a puberty-related QTL region down to a 1.7 Mb region on chromosome X in female mice and inferred miR-505-3p as the functional gene. We conducted ectopic expression of miR-505-3p in the hypothalamus of prepubertal female mice through lentivirus-mediated orthotopic injection. The impact of miR-505-3p on female puberty was evaluated by the measurement of pubertal/reproduction events and histological analysis. The results showed that female mice with overexpression of miR-505-3p in the hypothalamus manifested later puberty onset timing both in vaginal opening and ovary maturation, followed by weaker fertility lying in the longer interval time between mating and delivery, higher abortion rate and smaller litter size. We also constructed miR-505-3p-knockout mice by CRISPR/Cas9 technology. miR-505-3p-knockout female mice showed earlier vaginal opening timing, higher serum gonadotrophin and higher expression of puberty-related gene in the hypothalamus than their WT littermates. Srsf1 proved to be the target gene of miR-505-3p that played the major role in this process. The results of RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing showed that SRSF1 (or SF2), the protein product of Srsf1 gene, mainly bound to ribosome protein (RP) mRNAs in GT1-7 cells. The collective evidence implied that miR-505-3p/SRSF1/RP could play a role in the sexual maturation regulation of mammals.
Hai-Fan Yu, Zhan-Peng Yue, Kai Wang, Zhan-Qing Yang, Hong-Liang Zhang, Shuang Geng and Bin Guo
Although Gja1 has been proved to play an important role in uterine decidualization, its regulatory mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we showed that Gja1 was highly expressed in the decidual cells and promoted the proliferation of uterine stromal cells and expression of Prl8a2 and Prl3c1, which were two well-known differentiation markers for decidualization. Further analysis revealed that Gja1 might act downstream of Acvr1 and cAMP to regulate the differentiation of uterine stromal cells. Administration of cAMP analog 8-Br-cAMP to Acvr1 siRNA-transfected stromal cells resulted in an obvious increase of Gja1 expression, whereas PKA inhibitor H89 impeded the induction of Gja1 elicited by Acvr1 overexpression, indicating that cAMP–PKA signal mediates the regulation of Acvr1 on Gja1 expression. In uterine stromal cells, knockdown of Gja1 blocked the cAMP induction of Hand2. Moreover, siRNA-mediated downregulation of Hand2 impaired the stimulatory effects of Gja1 overexpression on the expression of Prl8a2 and Prl3c1, whereas constitutive expression of Hand2 reversed the inhibitory effects of Gja1 siRNA on stromal differentiation. Meanwhile, Gja1 might play a vital role in the crosstalk between Acvr1 and Hand2. Collectively, Gja1 may act downstream of cAMP–PKA signal to mediate the effects of Acvr1 on the differentiation of uterine stromal cells through targeting Hand2.
Kok Lim Kua, Shanming Hu, Chunlin Wang, Jianrong Yao, Diana Dang, Alex B Sawatzke, Jeffrey L Segar, Kai Wang and Andrew W Norris
Offspring exposed in utero to maternal diabetes exhibit long lasting insulin resistance, though the initiating mechanisms have received minimal experimental attention. Herein, we show that rat fetuses develop insulin resistance after only 2 days continuous exposure to isolated hyperglycemia starting on gestational day 18. Hyperglycemia-induced reductions in insulin-induced AKT phosphorylation localized primarily to fetal skeletal muscle. The skeletal muscle of hyperglycemia exposed fetuses also exhibited impaired in-vivo glucose uptake. To address longer term impacts of this short hyperglycemic exposure, neonates were cross-fostered and examined at 21 days postnatal age. Offspring formerly exposed to 2 days late gestation hyperglycemia exhibited mild glucose intolerance with insulin signaling defects localized only to skeletal muscle. Fetal hyperglycemic exposure has downstream consequences which include hyperinsulinemia and relative uteroplacental insufficiency. To determine whether these accounted for induction of insulin resistance, we examined fetuses exposed to late gestational isolated hyperinsulinemia or uterine artery ligation. Importantly, 2 days of fetal hyperinsulinemia did not impair insulin signaling in murine fetal tissues and 21 day old offspring exposed to fetal hyperinsulinemia had normal glucose tolerance. Similarly, fetal exposure to 2 days uteroplacental insufficiency did not perturb insulin stimulated AKT phosphorylation in fetal rats. We conclude that fetal exposure to hyperglycemia acutely produces insulin resistance. As hyperinsulinemia and placental insufficiency have no such impact, this occurs likely via direct tissue effects of hyperglycemia. Furthermore, these findings show that skeletal muscle is uniquely susceptible to immediate and persistent insulin resistance induced by hyperglycemia.