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Chiung-Zuan Chiu, Bao-Wei Wang, and Kou-Gi Shyu

Cardiomyocyte hypoxia causes cardiac hypertrophy through cardiac-restricted gene expression. Urotensin II (UII) cooperates with activating protein 1 (AP1) to regulate cardiomyocyte growth in response to myocardial injuries. Angiotensin II (AngII) stimulates UII expression, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and cardiac hypertrophy. This study aimed to evaluate the expression of UII, ROS, and AngII as well as their genetic transcription after hypoxia treatment in neonatal cardiomyocytes. Cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were subjected to hypoxia for different time periods. UII (Uts2) protein levels increased after 2.5% hypoxia for 4 h with earlier expression of AngII and ROS. Both hypoxia and exogenously added AngII or Dp44mT under normoxia stimulated UII expression, whereas AngII receptor blockers, JNK inhibitors (SP600125), JNK siRNA, or N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) suppressed UII expression. The gel shift assay indicated that hypoxia induced an increase in DNA–protein binding between UII and AP1. The luciferase assay confirmed an increase in transcription activity of AP1 to the UII promoter under hypoxia. After hypoxia, an increase in 3H-proline incorporation in the cardiomyocytes and expression of myosin heavy chain protein, indicative of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, were observed. In addition, hypoxia increased collagen I expression, which was inhibited by SP600125, NAC, and UII siRNA. In summary, hypoxia in cardiomyocytes increases UII and collagen I expression through the induction of AngII, ROS, and the JNK pathway causing cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and fibrosis.

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Bao-Wei Wang, Hang Chang, Peiliang Kuan, and Kou-Gi Shyu

Angiotensin II (AngII) plays a critical role in cardiac remodeling and promotes cardiac myocyte hypertrophy. Myostatin, a negative regulator of muscle growth, is increased in hypertrophied and infarcted heart. The direct effect of AngII on cardiac myocyte myostatin expression has not been previously investigated. We hypothesized that myostatin may act as a cardiac endocrine inhibitor for AngII. AngII-induced myostatin protein expression in cultured rat neonatal cardiomyocytes was dose-dependent. AngII significantly increased myostatin protein and mRNA expression in a time-dependent manner. Addition of losartan, SB203580, or p38 siRNA 30 min before AngII stimulation significantly blocked the increase of myostatin protein by AngII. AngII significantly increased phosphorylation of p38 while SB205380 and losartan attenuated the phosphorylation of p38 induced by AngII. AngII increased, while myostatin-Mut plasmid, SB203580, losartan, and myocyte enhance factor 2 (MEF-2) antibody abolished the myostatin promoter activity. Co-stimulation with myostatin and AngII significantly inhibited the protein synthesis induced by AngII. In conclusion, AngII enhances myostatin expression in cultured rat neonatal cardiomyocytes. The AngII-induced myostatin is mediated through p38 MAP kinase and MEF-2 pathway.

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Hong-Wei Wang, Michelle Muguira, Wei-Dong Liu, Tao Zhang, Chiachen Chen, Rebecca Aucoin, Mary B Breslin, and Michael S Lan

In this study, an insulinoma-associated antigen-1 (INSM1)-binding site in the proximal promoter sequence of the insulin gene was identified. The co-transfection of INSM1 with rat insulin I/II promoter-driven reporter genes exhibited a 40–50% inhibitory effect on the reporter activity. Mutational experiments were performed by introducing a substitution, GG to AT, into the INSM1 core binding site of the rat insulin I/II promoters. The mutated insulin promoter exhibited a three- to 20-fold increase in the promoter activity over the wild-type promoter in several insulinoma cell lines. Moreover, INSM1 overexpression exhibited no inhibitory effect on the mutated insulin promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays using βTC-1, mouse fetal pancreas, and Ad-INSM1-transduced human islets demonstrated that INSM1 occupies the endogenous insulin promoter sequence containing the INSM1-binding site in vivo. The binding of the INSM1 to the insulin promoter could suppress ∼50% of insulin message in human islets. The mechanism for transcriptional repression of the insulin gene by INSM1 is mediated through the recruitment of cyclin D1 and histone deacetylase-3 to the insulin promoter. Anti-INSM1 or anti-cyclin D1 morpholino treatment of fetal mouse pancreas enhances the insulin promoter activity. These data strongly support the view that INSM1 is a new zinc-finger transcription factor that modulates insulin gene transcription during early pancreas development.

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Xuanchun Wang, Wei Gong, Yu Liu, Zhihong Yang, Wenbai Zhou, Mei Wang, Zhen Yang, Jie Wen, and Renming Hu

We report the identification of a novel secreted peptide, INM02. The mRNA transcript of human INM02 gene is about 3.0 kb. Its open-reading frame contains 762 bps and encodes a protein of 254 amino acids. Northern blot analysis demonstrates that INM02 mRNA is widely expressed in rat tissues, especially with abundant quantities in pancreatic islets, testis, and bladder tissue. We have expressed recombinant INM02 protein and generated rabbit anti-INM02 polyclonal antibodies. We show here that INM02 could be detectable in human serum by ELISA. We also present evidence that INM02 mRNA expression could be regulated by glucose. Experiments on both MIN6 cells and intact isolated islets demonstrate that INM02 mRNA levels are increased more than threefold by high glucose (25 mM) when compared with low glucose (5.5 mM). ELISA analysis shows that secretion of INM02 is significantly augmented by high glucose in vitro. It is speculated that as a novel secreted protein, INM02 is associated with functions of pancreatic islets, especially of β-cells.

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Jing Xie, Wei-Qing Wang, Ting-Xi Liu, Min Deng, and Guang Ning

Chromogranin A (CHGA), a protein participating in the biogenesis of dense core secretory granules in various neuroendocrine tissues, plays a critical role in the release of hormones/peptides and the pathogenesis of pheochromocytoma. However, little is known about the developmental origin of CHGA-expressing cells during embryogenesis. Here, we report the structural characterization and spatio-temporal expression pattern of zebrafish (Danio rerio) ortholog of mammalian CHGA. The earliest expression of chga transcripts was observed at 16 h post fertilization in the developing cranial ganglia as six distinct cellular masses arranged bilaterally as strings of beads in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) precursors along the dorsal trunk. With development advancing, the chga transcripts were expressed abundantly in diencephalon, mesencephalon, and rhombencephalon as well as in the DRG. Interestingly, double in situ hybridization assay of chga with genes expressed in pronephros (Wilms' tumor suppressor 1, wt1), adrenal cortex (side-chain cleavage enzyme, scc), and sympathoadrenal neuron/chromaffin cell (dopamine-β-hydroxylase, dbh), respectively, showed that the chga-expressing cells are spatially separated from wt1-, scc-, and dbh-positive cell populations during early embryonic development. The pronephros region does not express chga even up to 7 days post fertilization, while chga positive-staining cells bind in the brain and DRG, indicating that chga may play an important role in nervous system development during the early embryonic stages.

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Cuili Wang, Dongteng Liu, Weiting Chen, Wei Ge, Wanshu Hong, Yong Zhu, and Shi X Chen

Our previous study showed that the in vivo positive effects of 17α,20β-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (DHP), the major progestin in zebrafish, on early spermatogenesis was much stronger than the ex vivo ones, which may suggest an effect of DHP on the expression of gonadotropins. In our present study, we first observed that fshb and lhb mRNA levels in the pituitary of male adult zebrafish were greatly inhibited by 3 weeks exposure to 10nM estradiol (E2). However, an additional 24h 100nM DHP exposure not only reversed the E2-induced inhibition, but also significantly increased the expression of fshb and lhb mRNA. These stimulatory effects were also observed in male adult fish without E2 pretreatment, and a time course experiment showed that it took 24h for fshb and 12h for lhb to respond significantly. Because these stimulatory activities were partially antagonized by a nuclear progesterone receptor (Pgr) antagonist mifepristone, we generated a Pgr-knockout (pgr –/–) model using the TALEN technique. With and without DHP in vivo treatment, fshb and lhb mRNA levels of pgr –/– were significantly lower than those of pgr +/+. Furthermore, ex vivo treatment of pituitary fragments of pgr –/– with DHP stimulated lhb, but not fshb mRNA expression. Results from double-colored fluorescent in situ hybridization showed that pgr mRNA was expressed only in fshb-expressing cells. Taken together, our results indicated that DHP participated in the regulation of neuroendocrine control of reproduction in male zebrafish, and exerted a Pgr-mediated direct stimulatory effect on fshb mRNA at pituitary level.

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Akhilesh K Pandey, Wei Li, Xiangling Yin, Douglas M Stocco, Paula Grammas, and XingJia Wang

Previous studies have reported the roles of Ca2+ in steroidogenesis. The present study has investigated an inhibitory effect of Ca2+ influx through L-type Ca2+ channels on gene expression of steroidogenic acute regulatory (STAR) protein that regulates the transfer of substrate cholesterol to the inner mitochondrial membrane for steroidogenesis. Blocking Ca2+ influx through L-type Ca2+ channels using the selective Ca2+ channel blocker, nifedipine, markedly enhanced cAMP-induced STAR protein expression and progesterone production in MA-10 mouse Leydig cells. This was confirmed by utilization of different L-type Ca2+ channel blockers. Reverse transcription-PCR analyses of Star mRNA and luciferase assays of Star promoter activity indicated that blocking Ca2+ influx through L-type Ca2+ channels acted at the level of Star gene transcription. Further studies showed that blocking the Ca2+ channel enhanced Star gene transcription by depressing the expression of DAX-1 (NR0B1 as listed in the MGI Database) protein, a transcriptional repressor of Star gene expression. It was also observed that there is a synergistic interaction between nifedipine and cAMP. Normally, sub-threshold levels of cAMP are unable to induce steroidogenesis, but in the presence of the L-type Ca2+ channel blocker, they increased STAR protein and steroid hormone to the maximal levels. However, in the absence of minimal levels of cAMP, none of the L-type Ca2+ channel blockers are able to induce Star gene expression. These observations indicate that Ca2+ influx through L-type Ca2+ channels is involved in an inhibitory effect on Star gene expression. Blocking L-type Ca2+ channel attenuated the inhibition and reduced the threshold of cAMP-induced Star gene expression in Leydig cells.

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Xuemei Tang, Jingwen Li, Wei Xiang, Ye Cui, Bin Xie, Xiaodong Wang, Zihui Xu, and Lixia Gan

In addition to the ascertained efficacy as antidiabetic drug, metformin is increasingly being used as weight-loss agent in obesity, and as insulin sensitizer in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, the mechanisms underlying these effects are still incompletely understood. Emerging evidence suggest metformin as leptin sensitizer to mediate the weight-loss effect in the brain. In this study, we investigated effects of metformin on expression of leptin receptors in liver and kidney in mice. C57BL/6 mice were fed with chow diet (CD) or high-fat diet (HF) for 5months. Afterward, mice were treated with metformin (50mg/kg or 200mg/kg) for 15days. Metabolic parameters and hepatic gene expression were analyzed at the end of the treatment. We also tested the effects of metformin on plasma-soluble leptin receptor (sOB-R) levels in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients, and assessed its effect on hepatosteatosis in mice. Results showed that metformin upregulates the expression of leptin receptors (OB-Ra, -Rb, -Rc, and -Rd) in liver but not kidney. The stimulation effect is dose-dependent in both chow and HF mice. Upregulation of OB-Rb, long signaling isoform, needs a relatively higher dose of metformin. This effect was paralleled by increased sOBR levels in mice and T2DM patients, and decreased hepatic triglyceride (TG) content and lipogenic gene expression, including sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c), fatty acid synthase (FAS) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase-1 (ACC-1). Taken together, these data identify hepatic leptin receptor as target gene being upregulated by metformin which may enhance leptin sensitivity in liver to alleviate steatosis.

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Jiashu Yu, Zhongyan Shan, Wei Chong, Jinyuan Mao, Yuxiu Geng, Caixia Zhang, Qian Xing, Weiwei Wang, Ningna Li, Chenling Fan, Hong Wang, Hongmei Zhang, and Weiping Teng

Acute and excessive iodine supplementation leads to iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity. Excessive oxidative stress has been suggested to be one of the underlying mechanisms in the development of thyroid cytotoxicity. The aim of this study was to investigate whether vitamin E (VE), an important antioxidant, could ameliorate iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity. A goiter was induced in rats by feeding a low-iodine (LI) diet for 12 weeks. Involution of hyperplasia was obtained by administering a twofold physiological dose of iodine in feeding water with/without the supplementation of 25-, 50-, or 100-fold physiological dose of VE in the LI diet for 4 weeks. In iodine-supplemented rats, thyroid epithelial cell ultrastructure injuries remained and were more severe. Relative weights of iodine-induced involuting glands were significantly reduced compared with the goiter, but still higher than control. Immunohistochemistry indicated that the expression of 4-hydroxynonenal, 8-hydroxyguanine, peroxiredoxin 5, and CD68 in thyroid increased (P<0.01), whereas thioredoxin reductase 1 decreased (P<0.01). VE supplementation attenuated thyroid cytotoxicity induced by iodine. A 50-fold VE dose was optimal in attenuating twofold iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity. However, VE supplementation did not reduce the weight or relative weight of the iodine-induced involuting gland. These results show that excess iodine leads to thyroid damage and VE supplementation can partly ameliorate iodine-induced thyroid cytotoxicity.

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Hong-Hui Wang, Qian Cui, Teng Zhang, Lei Guo, Ming-Zhe Dong, Yi Hou, Zhen-Bo Wang, Wei Shen, Jun-Yu Ma, and Qing-Yuan Sun

As a fat storage organ, adipose tissue is distributed widely all over the body and is important for energy supply, body temperature maintenance, organ protection, immune regulation and so on. In humans, both underweight and overweight women find it hard to become pregnant, which suggests that appropriate fat storage can guarantee the female reproductive capacity. In fact, a large mass of adipose tissue distributes around the reproductive system both in the male and female. However, the functions of ovary fat pad (the nearest adipose tissue to ovary) are not known. In our study, we found that the ovary fat pad-removed female mice showed decreased fertility and less ovulated mature eggs. We further identified that only a small proportion of follicles developed to antral follicle, and many follicles were blocked at the secondary follicle stage. The overall secretion levels of estrogen and FSH were lower in the whole estrus cycle (especially at proestrus); however, the LH level was higher in ovary fat pad-removed mice than that in control groups. Moreover, the estrus cycle of ovary fat pad-removed mice showed significant disorder. Besides, the expression of FSH receptor decreased, but the LH receptor increased in ovary fat pad-removed mice. These results suggest that ovary fat pad is important for mouse reproduction.