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IA Hansen, O Jakob, S Wortmann, T Arzberger, B Allolio, and E Blind

The polypeptide TIP39 (tuberoinfundibular peptide of 39 residues) is a potent activator of the parathyroid hormone (PTH)-2 receptor (P2R) and an antagonist of the PTH-1 receptor (P1R). To clarify its possible physiological function(s), we studied its interaction with the human P1R and P2R and examined the expression of TIP39 in man and mouse. To find out possible sites of this ligand interaction in the organism, we identified the genes encoding the TIP39 protein precursors of Homo sapiens and Mus musculus in the databases of the human and mouse genome projects respectively. We then obtained the full-length cDNAs of both species by RACE-PCR. The deduced TIP39 preprohormones consist of an N-terminal 30 amino acid (aa) signal peptide followed by a 29 aa TIP39 precursor-related peptide, an Arg-Arg processing site, and the actual 39 aa TIP39 sequence. The first 23 aa of the actual TIP39 sequence, thought to contain the P2R receptor activation site, are identical in man and mouse and thus phylogenetically conserved. By contrast, the 16 aa C-terminal portion showed a higher degree of diversity (75% aa identity). By using RT-PCR, TIP39 was found to be highly expressed in human central nervous system tissues, trachea, fetal liver, and, to a lesser degree, in human heart and kidney. Using in situ hybridization, TIP39 mRNA expression was revealed in various areas of the mouse brain. In a homologous human cell model using human embryonic kidney 293 cells stably transfected with human P1R and P2R, human TIP39 did bind to P1R with moderate affinity (IC(50) approximately 10(-7)-10(-6 )M), but showed higher affinity binding to P2R (IC(50) approximately 10(-8)M), comparable to the affinity of human N-terminal PTH (hPTH(1-34)) to this receptor. In P2R-transfected cells, the cAMP pathway was activated more efficiently ( approximately 10-fold) by TIP39 as a ligand compared to hPTH(1-34). In P1R-transfected cells, only hPTH(1-34) but not TIP39 was able to elicit a cAMP response, but TIP39 was able to directly antagonize the cAMP-stimulating effect of hPTH(1-34) on this receptor. In conclusion, we could show a possible function of TIP39 for the human organism as a potent activator of P2R (e.g. in brain) as well as an antagonist of the action of PTH and/or PTH-related protein on P1R (e.g. in bone and kidney). The physiological role of TIP39 in calcium metabolism with regard to these actions remains to be determined. The tools developed in this work will allow us to investigate the possible role of TIP39 as a locally or systemically secreted ligand modulating the function of the PTH receptor family.

Free access

M Theodoropoulou, T Arzberger, Y Gruebler, Z Korali, P Mortini, W Joba, AE Heufelder, GK Stalla, and L Schaaf

Thyrotrophin (TSH) synthesis and secretion is under the positive control of thyrotrophin releasing hormone and under the negative control of the thyroid hormones. However, it is hypothesised that TSH has a direct effect on the regulation of its own synthesis through an intrapituitary loop mediated by pituitary TSH receptors (TSH-R). The aim of this investigation was to study the expression of TSH-R in normal human pituitary at mRNA and protein levels, and to compare the pattern of protein expression between different pituitary adenomas. Using RT-PCR we were able to detect TSH-R mRNA in the normal pituitary, and immunohistochemical studies showed TSH-R protein expression in distinct areas of the anterior pituitary. Double immunostaining with antibodies against each of the intrapituitary hormones and S100 revealed that TSH-R protein is present in thyrotrophs and folliculostellate cells. Examination of 58 pituitary adenomas, including two clinically active and two clinically inactive thyrotroph adenomas, revealed TSH-R immunopositivity in only the two clinically inactive thyrotroph adenomas. This study shows, for the first time, the presence of TSH-R protein in the normal anterior pituitary and in a subset of thyrotroph adenomas. The expression of TSH-R in the thyrotroph and folliculostellate cell subpopulations provides preliminary evidence of a role for TSH in autocrine and paracrine regulatory pathways within the anterior pituitary gland.

Free access

M Theodoropoulou, T Arzberger, Y Gruebler, M L Jaffrain-Rea, J Schlegel, L Schaaf, E Petrangeli, M Losa, G K Stalla, and U Pagotto

The oncogenic effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) have long been established. EGF receptor (EGFr) is overexpressed in many types of tumors and constitutes a target for cancer treatment. The pituitary gland is a target of EGF action and it is very likely that EGFr plays a role in pituitary tumor formation and progression. However, there is a controversy in the literature concerning EGFr expression in the different types of pituitary adenomas. In the present study we investigated the expression pattern of the wild type EGFr (EGFrWT) and the constitutively active variant III (EGFrvIII) at the mRNA and protein levels in a large series of pituitary tumors. EGFrWT was found in a high percentage of hormone-secreting tumors, but only in a small fraction of non-functioning pituitary adenomas, while no expression of the EGFrvIII could be detected by nested RT-PCR in any tumor. Among the hormone-secreting adenomas, the highest incidence of EGFr expression was found in Cushing’s pituitary adenomas. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry for the phosphorylated EGFr revealed the presence of activated EGFr in most Cushing’s adenomas, compared with most pituitary adenomas. Taking into account that downregulation of p27/Kip1 plays a significant role in corticotrope tumorigenesis and that EGFr mitogenic signaling results in decreased p27/Kip1, we searched for a correlation between EGFr expression and p27/Kip1 levels in corticotropinomas. Low p27/Kip1 immunoreactivity was observed in corticotropinomas expressing EGFr. On the other hand, somatotropinomas expressing EGFr had high p27/Kip1 immunoreactivity. These data suggest a corticotrope-specific phenomenon and indicate that EGFr may have a role in the unbalanced growth of corticotrope tumoral cells.