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  • Author: L A Metherell x
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R Prasad, J C Kowalczyk, E Meimaridou, H L Storr and L A Metherell

Maintenance of redox balance is essential for normal cellular functions. Any perturbation in this balance due to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) leads to oxidative stress and may lead to cell dysfunction/damage/death. Mitochondria are responsible for the majority of cellular ROS production secondary to electron leakage as a consequence of respiration. Furthermore, electron leakage by the cytochrome P450 enzymes may render steroidogenic tissues acutely vulnerable to redox imbalance. The adrenal cortex, in particular, is well supplied with both enzymatic (glutathione peroxidases and peroxiredoxins) and non-enzymatic (vitamins A, C and E) antioxidants to cope with this increased production of ROS due to steroidogenesis. Nonetheless oxidative stress is implicated in several potentially lethal adrenal disorders including X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy, triple A syndrome and most recently familial glucocorticoid deficiency. The finding of mutations in antioxidant defence genes in the latter two conditions highlights how disturbances in redox homeostasis may have an effect on adrenal steroidogenesis.

Open access

E Meimaridou, M Goldsworthy, V Chortis, E Fragouli, P A Foster, W Arlt, R Cox and L A Metherell

Nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase, NNT, is a ubiquitous protein of the inner mitochondrial membrane with a key role in mitochondrial redox balance. NNT produces high concentrations of NADPH for detoxification of reactive oxygen species by glutathione and thioredoxin pathways. In humans, NNT dysfunction leads to an adrenal-specific disorder, glucocorticoid deficiency. Certain substrains of C57BL/6 mice contain a spontaneously occurring inactivating Nnt mutation and display glucocorticoid deficiency along with glucose intolerance and reduced insulin secretion. To understand the underlying mechanism(s) behind the glucocorticoid deficiency, we performed comprehensive RNA-seq on adrenals from wild-type (C57BL/6N), mutant (C57BL/6J) and BAC transgenic mice overexpressing Nnt (C57BL/6JBAC). The following results were obtained. Our data suggest that Nnt deletion (or overexpression) reduces adrenal steroidogenic output by decreasing the expression of crucial, mitochondrial antioxidant (Prdx3 and Txnrd2) and steroidogenic (Cyp11a1) enzymes. Pathway analysis also revealed upregulation of heat shock protein machinery and haemoglobins possibly in response to the oxidative stress initiated by NNT ablation. In conclusion, using transcriptomic profiling in adrenals from three mouse models, we showed that disturbances in adrenal redox homeostasis are mediated not only by under expression of NNT but also by its overexpression. Further, we demonstrated that both under expression or overexpression of NNT reduced corticosterone output implying a central role for it in the control of steroidogenesis. This is likely due to a reduction in the expression of a key steroidogenic enzyme, Cyp11a1, which mirrored the reduction in corticosterone output.

Free access

M Maamra, A Milward, H Zarkesh Esfahani, L P Abbott, L A Metherell, M O Savage, A J L Clark and R J M Ross

Growth hormone insensitivity syndrome (GHIS) has been reported in a family homozygous for a point mutation in the GH receptor (GHR) that activates an intronic pseudoexon. The resultant GHR (GHR1–656) includes a 36 amino-acids insertion after residue 207, in the region known to be important for homodimerization of GHR. We have examined the functional consequences of such an insertion in mammalian cells transfected with the wild type (GHRwt) and mutated GHR (GHR1–656). Radio-ligand binding and flow cytometry analysis showed that GHR1–656 is poorly expressed at the cell surface compared with GHRwt. Total membrane binding and Western blot analysis showed no such difference in the level of total cellular GHR expressed for GHR1–656 vs GHRwt. Immunofluorescence showed GHR1–656 to have different cellular distribution to the wild type receptor (GHRwt), with the mutated GHR being mainly perinuclear and less vesicular than GHRwt. Western blot analysis showed GH-induced phosphorylation of Jak2 and Stat5 for both GHR1–656 and GHRwt, although reduced Stat5 activity was detected with GHR1–656, consistent with lower levels of expression of GHR1–656 than GHRwt at the cell surface. In conclusion, we report that GHIS, due to a 36 amino-acids insertion in the extracellular domain of GHR, is likely to be explained by a trafficking defect rather than by a signalling defect of GHR.