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M Shimada, J Ito, Y Yamashita, T Okazaki, and N Isobe

In this study, we investigated the mechanisms of protein kinase B (PKB) activation and its role in cumulus cells during in vitro meiotic resumption of porcine oocytes. PKB activity in cumulus cells was significantly decreased by 12 h cultivation of cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) in basic medium. However, the addition of phosphodiesterase inhibitors, hypoxanthine or 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine, maintained the level of PKB activity in cumulus cells at comparable with that in cumulus cells just after collection from their follicles. When COCs were cultured with phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) inhibitor, LY294002, PKB activity was significantly decreased, and both caspase 3 activity and the proportion of apoptotic cells were significantly increased as compared with those in cumulus cells just after collection from their follicles. Moreover, the inhibitory effect of hypoxanthine on spontaneous meiotic resumption was overcome by addition of LY294002. On the other hand, markedly high activity of PKB and high intensity of the phosphorylated PKB band were observed in cumulus cells of COCs which were cultured with FSH. The addition of 20 microM LY294002 to FSH-containing medium induced an apoptosis of cumulus cells, whereas little apoptotic-positive signal was detected in COCs cultured with 5 microM LY294002 and FSH. However, the inhibitory effects of LY294002 on progesterone production by cumulus cells and germinal vesicle breakdown in oocytes reached a maximum at 5 microM. Thus, high activity of the PI 3-kinase-PKB pathway in cumulus cells plays an important role in FSH regulation of cell function. Judging from these results, it is estimated that PI 3-kinase in cumulus cells is required for both the suppression of spontaneous meiotic resumption and the induction of gonadotropin-stimulated meiotic resumption.

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H. Tanase, K. Kudo, H. Horikoshi, H. Mizushima, T. Okazaki, and E. Ogata


Mutant cats were developed with non-goitrous primary hypothyroidism. They were clinically characterized by severely retarded growth, mild anaemia and high mortality in the young. They responded markedly to thyroid hormone replacement. Thyroid glands in the mutants were normal in position but slightly reduced in size. Laboratory studies revealed low serum concentrations of thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3), and increased serum concentrations of TSH. Administration of TRH induced no further increase in TSH. Administration of exogenous TSH after suppression of endogenous TSH by T3 did not increase the serum concentration of T4 in the mutants, in sharp contrast with the threefold increase in serum T4 observed in the normal litter-mates. These findings suggest that the underlying pathogenesis of this disorder is unresponsive to TSH. Moreover, we found that the mutants were transmitted in an autosomal recessive manner.

Journal of Endocrinology (1991) 129, 245–251

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A. Nakano, M. Terasawa, M. Watanabe, K. Okazaki, S. Inoue, M. Kato, Y. Nimura, N. Usuda, T. Morita, and H. Hidaka


Neurocalcin (molecular weight 23 000 and 24 000) is a Ca2+-binding protein with three putative Ca2+-binding domains and is present in large amounts in nervous tissues. Neurocalcin isoproteins separated by C18 reverse-phase column chromatography are insoluble in buffer solution and it is impossible to determine the dissociation constant of neurocalcin with Ca2+. To overcome this difficulty, recombinant neurocalcin was synthesized, based on one of the cDNAs of the neurocalcin isoproteins. Stoichiometric titration experiments, using recombinant neurocalcin, indicated that this protein bound 2 mol Ca2+/mol protein and that the apparent dissociation constant for Ca2+ was 2·2 μmol/l, suggesting that neurocalcin plays a physiological role in cellular function. Immunoblotting showed that neurocalcin is present in the bovine adrenal gland in addition to the nervous tissues. Neurocalcin, identified by immunoblotting, was purified from the bovine adrenal gland. Sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) of neurocalcin from the bovine brain showed 23 kDa and 24 kDa double bands, while SDS-PAGE of neurocalcin from the adrenal gland showed a single band of apparently 24 kDa, suggesting that the expression of neurocalcin isoproteins differs from tissue to tissue. The content of neurocalcin in the adrenal gland was 10 μg protein/100 g wet tissue. Immunohistochemical analysis showed the occurrence of neurocalcin in zona glomerulosa and adrenal medulla but not in zona fasciculata or zona reticularis. The restricted localization of neurocalcin in the adrenal gland suggests that a similar Ca2+ signal pathway may be present in zona glomerulosa and the adrenal medulla.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 138, 283–290