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YR Boisclair, RP Rhoads, I Ueki, J Wang, and GT Ooi

The insulin-like growth factors-I and -II (IGFs) are involved in a wide array of cellular processes such as proliferation, prevention of apoptosis, and differentiation. Most of these effects are mediated by the IGF-I receptor, although at higher IGF concentrations the insulin receptor can also be activated. As the expression of both the IGFs and their receptors is widespread, IGFs are thought to have autocrine/paracrine modes of actions also, particularly during foetal life. The endocrine component of the IGF system is recognised to be important after birth, with IGF-I mediating many of the effects of growth hormone (GH), and linking anabolic processes to nutrient availability. Consideration of ligands and receptors, however, is insufficient to provide a complete understanding of the biology of IGF. This is because IGFs are found in binary complexes of 40-50 kDa with members of a family of IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs-1 to -6) in all biological fluids. In addition, in postnatal serum, most IGFs are sequestered into ternary complexes of 150 kDa consisting of one molecule each of IGF, IGFBP-3 or IGFBP-5, and acid-labile subunit (ALS). Despite evidence that ALS plays an important role in the biology of circulating IGFs, it has received only limited attention relative to the other components of the IGF system. This review provides an overview on the current knowledge of ALS protein and gene structure, organisation and regulation by hormones, and insights from novel animal models such as the ALS knockout mice.

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J Wook Kim, RP Rhoads, SS Block, TR Overton, SJ Frank, and YR Boisclair

At parturition, dairy cows experience a 70% reduction in plasma IGF-I. This reduction coincides with decreased abundance of GHR1A, the liver-specific transcript of the growth hormone receptor (GHR) gene, suggesting impaired growth hormone-dependent synthesis of IGF-I. It is not immediately obvious that the periparturient reduction in GHR1A is sufficient to reduce hepatic GHR abundance. This is because approximately 50% of total GHR mRNA abundance in prepartum liver is accounted for by ubiquitously expressed transcripts which remain collectively unchanged at parturition. In addition, the possibility that parturition alters GHR expression in other growth hormone target tissue has not been examined. To address these questions, we measured GHR gene expression and GHR protein in liver and skeletal muscle of four dairy cows on days -35,+3 and+56 (relative to parturition on day 0). Hepatic GHR abundance and GHR1A transcripts were lower on day+3 than on day -35 and returned to late pregnancy value by day+56. Additional studies in two other groups of cows indicated that the hepatic levels of the GHR protein recovered substantially within 10 days after parturition. These changes occurred without variation in the abundance of HNF4, a liver-enriched transcription factor activating the promoter responsible for GHR1A synthesis. In contrast to liver, levels of GHR gene expression and GHR protein were identical on days -35,+3 and+56 in skeletal muscle. These data suggest a role for the GHR in regulating tissue-specific changes in growth hormone responsiveness in periparturient dairy cows.