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Soo-Hyun Kim, Jeremy Turnbull, and Scott Guimond

Extracellular matrices (ECM) are secreted molecules that constitute the cell microenvironment, composed of a dynamic and complex array of glycoproteins, collagens, glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans. ECM provides the bulk, shape and strength of many tissues in vivo, such as basement membrane, bone and cartilage. In vitro, most animal cells can only grow when they are attached to surfaces through ECM. ECM is also the substrate for cell migration. However, ECM provides much more than just mechanical and structural support, with implications in developmental patterning, stem cell niches and cancer. ECM imparts spatial context for signalling events by various cell surface growth factor receptors and adhesion molecules such as integrins. The external physical properties of ECM may also have a role in the signalling process. ECM molecules can be flexible and extendable, and mechanical tension can expose cryptic sites, which could further interact with growth factors or their receptors. ECM proteins and structures can determine the cell behaviour, polarity, migration, differentiation, proliferation and survival by communicating with the intracellular cytoskeleton and transmission of growth factor signals. Integrins and proteoglycans are the major ECM adhesion receptors which cooperate in signalling events, determining the signalling outcomes, and thus the cell fate. This review focuses on the emerging concept of spatial cell biology of ECM, especially the current understanding of integrins and heparan sulphate proteoglycans as the essential cellular machineries that sense, integrate and respond to the physical and chemical environmental information either by directly connecting with the local adhesion sites or by regulating global cellular processes through growth factor receptor signalling pathways, leading to the integration of both external and internal signals in space and time.

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Hyeon Soo Kim, Sanatombi Yumkham, Jang Hyun Choi, Gi Hoon Son, Kyungjin Kim, Sung Ho Ryu, and Pann-Ghill Suh

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that alters the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. To date, however, the molecular mechanisms underlying the role of serotonin in hormone secretion have remained largely unclear. In this study, we report that serotonin activates phospholipase C (PLC) γ1 in an Src-dependent manner in hypothalamic GT1–7 cells, and that pretreatment with either 4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl) pyrazole [3, 4-d] pyrimidine, an Src-kinase inhibitor, or U73122, a PLC inhibitor, attenuates the serotonin-induced increase in calcium levels. Also, PLC γ1 binds to c-Src through the Src-homology (SH) 223 domain upon serotonin treatment. Moreover, calcium increase is alleviated in the cells transientlyexpressing SH223 domain-deleted PLC γ1 or lipase inactive mutant PLC γ1, as compared with cells transfected with wild-type PLC γ1. Furthermore, the inhibition of the activities of either PLC or Src results in a significant diminution of the serotonin-induced release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). In addition, the results of our small-interfering RNA experiment confirm that endogenous PLC γ1 is a prerequisite for serotonin-mediated signaling pathways. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that serotonin stimulates the release of GnRH through the Src-PLC γ1 pathway, via the modulation of intracellular calcium levels.

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Seung Jin Han, Sung-E Choi, Sang-A Yi, Soo-Jin Lee, Hae Jin Kim, Dae Jung Kim, Hyun Chul Lee, Kwan Woo Lee, and Yup Kang

2-Aminobicyclo-(2,2,1)-heptane-2-carboxylic acid (BCH) is an activator of glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), which is a mitochondrial enzyme with an important role in insulin secretion. We investigated the effect of BCH on the high-glucose (HG)-induced reduction in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS), the HG/palmitate (PA)-induced reduction in insulin gene expression, and HG/PA-induced β-cell death. We also studied whether long-term treatment with BCH lowers blood glucose and improves β-cell integrity in db/db mice. We evaluated GSIS, insulin gene expression, and DNA fragmentation in INS-1 cells exposed to HG or HG/PA in the presence or absence of BCH. An in vivo study was performed in which 7-week-old diabetic db/db mice were treated with BCH (0.7 g/kg, n=10) and placebo (n=10) every other day for 6 weeks. After treatment, an intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test and immunohistological examinations were performed. Treatment with BCH blocked HG-induced GSIS inhibition and the HG/PA-induced reduction in insulin gene expression in INS-1 cells. In addition, BCH significantly reduced HG/PA-induced INS-1 cell death and phospho-JNK level. BCH treatment improved glucose tolerance and insulin secretion in db/db mice. BCH treatment also increased the ratio of insulin-positive β-cells to total islet area (P<0.05) and reduced the percentage of β-cells expressing cleaved caspase 3 (P<0.05). In conclusion, the GDH activator BCH improved glycemic control in db/db mice. This anti-diabetic effect may be associated with improved insulin secretion, preserved islet architecture, and reduced β-cell apoptosis.

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Hyo-Eun Kim, Sung-E Choi, Soo-Jin Lee, Ji-Hyun Lee, Youn-Jung Lee, Sang Sun Kang, Jaesun Chun, and Yup Kang

The present study was undertaken to determine how tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) elicits the inhibition of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in rat insulinoma cells (INS)-1 β-cells. TNF-α pretreatment did not change the expression levels of insulin, PDX-1, glucose transporter 2, glucokinase, KATP channels, Ca2 + channels, and exocytotic molecules and, furthermore, did not reduce the glucose-stimulated ATP level. On the other hand, TNF-α reduced the glucose-stimulated influx of Ca2 +. The TNF-α treatment was thought to activate c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and NF-κB inflammatory signals, since TNF-α increased phospho-JNK and phospho-p38 and reduced IκB levels. Inhibitors of these signaling pathways prevented the TNF-α-induced reduction of the Ca2 + influx and GSIS. Overexpression of MEKK3, a possible mediator from the TNF-α receptor to the JNK/p38 and NK-κB signaling cascade, increased the levels of phospho-JNK, phospho-p38, and NF-κB, and reduced the glucose-stimulated Ca2 + influx and GSIS. The reduction of the Ca2 + influx and GSIS in MEKK3-overexpressing INS-1 cells was also prevented by inhibitors of JNK, p38, and NF-κB. These data demonstrate that TNF-α inhibits GSIS by reducing the glucose-stimulated Ca2 + influx, possibly through the activation of JNK and p38 MAPK and NF-κB inflammatory signals. Thus, our findings suggest that the activation of stress and inflammatory signals can contribute to the inhibition of GSIS in the development of diabetes.

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Jin-Bong Lee, Sung-Jin Yoon, Sang-Hyun Lee, Moo-Seung Lee, Haiyoung Jung, Tae-Don Kim, Suk Ran Yoon, Inpyo Choi, Ik-Soo Kim, Su Wol Chung, Hee Gu Lee, Jeong-Ki Min, and Young-Jun Park

Healthy expansion of adipose tissue maintains metabolic homeostasis by storing excess chemical energy in increased fat mass. The STAT5-PPAR gamma pathway reportedly regulates adipocyte differentiation, lipid metabolism and adipogenesis. Ginsenoside Rg3 is one of the diverse groups of steroidal saponins, the major active components of ginseng, which have demonstrated pharmacological properties. In this study, we evaluated the therapeutic effects of ginsenoside Rg3 under pathological conditions in vitro and in vivo. We examined the effects of ginsenoside Rg3 on glucose level, insulin sensitivity and lipogenesis in high-fat diet-fed C57BL/6 mice. Ginsenoside Rg3 was also applied to the pre-adipocyte cell line 3T3-L1 to assess the impact on lipogenesis. Ginsenoside Rg3 reduced epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT) size and hepatic steatosis, and the amount of triglycerides (TGs) in both eWAT and liver. Similar to the murine model, Rg3-treated 3T3-L1 cells showed a reduction in lipid accumulation and amount of total TGs. Ginsenoside Rg3 regulates the expression of PPAR gamma though STAT5 in vitro and in vivo. According to our results, lipid metabolism-related genes were downregulated in the high-fat mice and 3T3-L1 cell line. Rg3 shows potential for the amelioration of obesity-induced pathology, acting though STAT5-PPAR gamma to facilitate the healthy functioning of adipose tissue. This is the first report of evidence that obesity-induced insulin resistance and lipotoxicity can be treated with ginsenoside Rg3, which acts though the STAT5-PPAR gamma pathway in vivo and in vitro.