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N Fujimoto, N Jinno, and S Kitamura

Interrelationships between thyroid hormone and estrogen actions have been documented with regard to a variety of physiological functions. Both hormones stimulate transcription of target genes by binding to their nuclear receptors that interact with specific responsive elements (estrogen and thyroid hormone response elements, i.e ERE and TRE, respectively) in the regulatory regions of the gene. In vitro studies have suggested that interplay between the two hormones might be due to cross-talk at hormone responsive elements, with the respective hormone receptors and ligands able to interact, although physiological relevance has yet to be proved. We have proposed a simpler mechanism for thyroid hormone effects on estrogen responses via increase in estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) with resultant increase in progesterone receptors, prolactin production and tumor growth. A pituitary cell line, GH3, has been widely used to investigate the function of mammo-somatotropic cells, especially regarding regulation of GH and prolactin production. In the present study, an ERE-luc reporter was transfected into GH3 cells and the responses to endogenous ERalpha were examined. We demonstrated that: (1)l -3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T3) induces mRNA expression of ERalpha; (2) T3 alone is able to induce ERE-luc activity and this is inhibited by OH-tamoxifen; (3) T3 synergistically acts on estradiol (E2)-induced ERE responses; and (4) ERE-luc activity is enchanted by co-transfection of an ERalpha expression vector. These results support the hypothesis that estrogen responses are potentiated by T3 through up-regulation of ERalpha levels.

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Y Kamei, Y Aoyama, T Fujimoto, N Kenmotsu, C Kishi, M Koushi, S Sugano, K Morohashi, R Kamiyama, and R Asakai

Several steroidogenic cell lines of granulosa cells (GC) have been used to elucidate differentiation mechanisms of GC during folliculogenesis. These cell lines, however, are of limited usefulness since they have lost some of their differentiation potential. The transcription factor adrenal-4 binding protein (Ad4BP), also known as steroidogenic factor-1 or NR5A1, is essential for the expression of all P-450 steroidogenic enzymes. By transfection with the Ad4BP gene together with SV40 DNA, we have generated several steroidogenic cell lines. One selective clone, named 4B2, retained its steroidogenic potential and was therefore analyzed in depth. This cell line responded to 8-Br-cAMP by displaying differentiation characteristics similar to those occurring in the differentiation process of primary cultured GC, including enhanced progesterone secretion, a cell shape change from a fibroblastic to epithelioid conformation, elongated mitochondria, increased gap junction formation and inhibition of cell proliferation. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), an intraovarian regulator of GC, stimulated cAMP production, and this eicosanoid, like 8-Br-cAMP, induced differentiation properties with the exception of cell conformation in 4B2 cells. These results suggest that expression of Ad4BP may provide the basis for a repertoire of cAMP-sensitive differentiation properties, including morphological alterations and growth inhibition. Thus, the 4B2 cell line may serve as a tool for elucidation of differentiation mechanisms that are under the control of Ad4BP.