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K Ogura, M Sakata, M Yamaguchi, H Kurachi and Y Murata

Facilitative glucose transporter-1 (GLUT1) is expressed abundantly and has an important role in glucose transfer in placentas. However, little is known about the regulation of GLUT1 expression in placental cells. We studied the changes in placental GLUT1 levels in relation to changes in glucose concentration in vitro and in vivo. In in vitro experiments, dispersed mouse placental cells were incubated under control (5.5 mM) and moderately high (22 mM) glucose concentrations, and 2-deoxyglucose uptake into cells was studied on days 1-5 of culture. After 4 days of incubation under both conditions, GLUT1 mRNA and proten levels were examined by Northern and immunoblot analyses. Treatment of cells with 22 mM glucose resulted in a significant decrease in 2-deoxyglucose uptake compared with control, from day 2 to day 5 of culture. Moreover, GLUT1 mRNA and protein levels on day 4 of culture were significantly reduced in cells incubated with 22 mM glucose compared with control. Next, we rendered mice diabetic by administering 200 micrograms/g body weight streptozotocin (STZ) on day 8 of pregnancy. Animals were killed on day 12 of pregnancy and placental tissues were obtained. [3H]Cytochalasin B binding study was carried out to assess total GLUTs, and GLUT1 mRNA and protein were measured as above. [3H]Cytochalasin B binding sites in placentas from STZ-treated mice were significantly less than those in control mice. Northern and immunoblot analyses revealed a significant decrease in GLUT1 mRNA and protein levels in diabetic mice compared with the controls. These findings suggest that the glucose concentration may regulate the expression of placental GLUT1.

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T Takeda, H Kurachi, T Yamamoto, Y Nishio, Y Nakatsuji, K Morishige, A Miyake and Y Murata

Cytokines and steroid hormones use different sets of signal transduction pathways, which seem to be unrelated. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) uses JAK tyrosine kinase and STAT (signal transducer and activator of transcription) transcription factor. Glucocorticoid binds glucocorticoid receptor (GR), which is a member of the steroid receptor superfamily. We have studied the crosstalk between the IL-6-JAK-STAT and glucocorticoid-nuclear receptor pathways. IL-6 and glucocorticoid synergistically activated the IL-6 response element on the rat alpha2-macroglobulin promoter (APRE)-driven luciferase gene. The exogenous expression of GR enhanced the synergism. The exogenous expression of dominant negative STAT3 completely abolished the IL-6 plus glucocorticoid-induced activation of the APRE-luciferase gene. Tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT3 stimulated by IL-6 alone was not different from that by IL-6 plus glucocorticoid. The protein level of STAT3 was also not increased by glucocorticoid stimulation. The time course of STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation by IL-6 plus glucocorticoid was not different from that by IL-6 alone. The synergism was studied on the two other IL-6 response elements, the junB promoter (JRE-IL-6) and the interferon regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1) promoter (IRF-GAS) which could be activated by STAT3. The synergistic activation by glucocorticoid on the IL-6-activated JRE-IL-6 and the IRF-GAS-driven luciferase gene was not detected. Glucocorticoid did not change the mobility of IL-6-induced APRE-binding proteins in a gel shift assay. These results suggest that the synergism was through the GR and STAT3, and the coactivation pathway which was specific for APRE was the target of glucocorticoid.

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K Ogura, M Sakata, Y Okamoto, Y Yasui, C Tadokoro, Y Yoshimoto, M Yamaguchi, H Kurachi, T Maeda and Y Murata

Facilitative glucose transporter-1 (GLUT1) is abundant in trophoblast cells and is responsible for glucose transport in the placenta. However, the change in GLUT expression in human placenta upon trophoblast differentiation remains to be clarified. Therefore, we first examined the localization of GLUT1 and GLUT3 using human first-trimester chorionic villi. We found that GLUT1 and GLUT3 were mainly localized to syncytiotrophoblast and cytotrophoblast cells respectively. We analyzed whether placental GLUT1 and GLUT3 expression changes during differentiation using a human choriocarcinoma (BeWo) cell line which is known to show functional and morphological differentiation in response to cAMP in culture. Treatment of BeWo cells with 8-bromo-cyclicAMP (8-bromo-cAMP) increased the level of hCG secretion and induced cell fusion leading to the formation of large syncytia. Treatment of BeWo cells with 8-bromo-cAMP also resulted in a significant increase in glucose uptake on days 2-3 of culture. The stimulating effect of 8-bromo-cAMP on glucose uptake was concentration dependent. Northern and immunoblot analyses revealed that the levels of mRNA and protein of GLUT1, but not of GLUT3, were significantly increased by 8-bromo-cAMP. These findings suggest that 8-bromo-cAMP stimulates GLUT1 expression with differentiation in BeWo cells.

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K Tasaka, N Masumoto, J Mizuki, Y Ikebuchi, M Ohmichi, H Kurachi, A Miyake and Y Murata

Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) induces the release of gonadotrophins via an increase in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]). Rab3B, a member of the small GTP-binding protein Rab family, is known to be involved in Ca(2+)-regulated exocytosis in pituitary cells. However, it is not known whether Rab3B functions in the physiological process regulated by GnRH in gonadotrophs. In this study using antisense oligonucleotide against Rab3B (AS-Rab3B) we determined that Rab3B is involved in GnRH-induced gonadotrophin release. Rab3B immunopositive cells were reduced in 24% of pituitary cells by AS-Rab3B. This treatment did not affect the population of gonadotrophs or the intracellular contents of gonadotrophins. However, AS-Rab3B significantly inhibited the total amount of basal and GnRH-induced gonadotrophin released from pituitary cells. These results show that Rab3B is involved in basal and GnRH-induced gonadotrophins release but not the storage of gonadotrophins. Next, the changes in [Ca2+] and exocytosis in gonadotrophs treated with AS-Rab3B were compared among Rab3B-positive and -negative cells. The change in [Ca2+] was not different in the two groups, but exocytosis was significantly inhibited in Rab3B-negative cells. These results suggest that Rab3B is essential for GnRH-regulated exocytosis downstream of cytosolic Ca2+ in gonadotrophs.

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N Masumoto, Y Ikebuchi, T Matsuoka, K Tasaka, A Miyake and Y Murata


The synaptic membrane protein synaptosomal-associated protein (SNAP-25) has recently been implicated as one of the key proteins involved in exocytotic membrane fusion in neurons. However, the role of SNAP-25 in pituitary hormone release is not known. In this study, we determined that SNAP-25 is involved in regulated exocytosis in the clonal pituitary cell line GH4C1. SNAP-25 messenger RNA and protein were detected in GH4C1 cells by RT-PCR and immunoblot analysis, respectively. Immunofluorescence analysis indicated that SNAP-25 protein was localized in the plasma membrane. Next, to determine the function of SNAP-25 in GH4C1 cells, specific inhibitors of SNAP-25, botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) /A or /E, and antisense SNAP-25 oligonucleotide were used. Neither BoNT/A nor BoNT/E affected thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)-induced cytosolic Ca2+ increase, but both inhibited TRH-induced exocytosis. Moreover, they dose-dependently inhibited TRH-induced prolactin release. The introduction of antisense oligonucleotide into the cells also inhibited TRH-induced prolactin release. These results suggest that SNAP-25 is involved in regulated exocytosis in GH4C1 cells.

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T Takeda, M Sakata, R Minekawa, T Yamamoto, M Hayashi, K Tasaka and Y Murata

Breast milk has non-nutritional protective effects on recipient infants. It has been speculated that bioactive substances present in human milk have important roles in protecting infants. However, the mechanisms by which such substances protect newborns are unclear. Therefore, we analyzed the growth-promoting activity of human milk and the intracellular signaling mechanism thereof using human fetal small intestinal (FHS 74 Int) cells. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulated the proliferation of these cells. However, this stimulation was less effective than that of aqueous milk (5% vol/vol). The bioactivity of human milk was heat stable but protease sensitive. EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor did not repress the milk-induced growth-promoting effect on fetal small intestinal cells. Regarding the intracellular signaling pathway, the milk-induced cell proliferation pathway was tyrosine kinase dependent but was neither mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase nor phosphatidylinositol-3 (PI-3) kinase dependent. On the other hand, EGF-induced cell proliferation was tyrosine kinase, MAP kinase, and PI-3 kinase dependent. Rapid tyrosine phosphorylation of several intracellular proteins was detected after milk stimulation. Furthermore, the time course of phosphorylation induced by milk was different from that induced by EGF. The sizes of the proteins phosphorylated in response to milk were different from those of the Shc proteins phosphorylated in response to EGF. These results suggest that human milk induces fetal intestinal cell proliferation through a unique tyrosine kinase pathway different from the EGF receptor signaling pathway.

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M Yoneda, T Nishizaki, K Tasaka, H Kurachi, A Miyake and Y Murata

Using digitonin-permeabilized GH3 cells, we investigated both the release of prolactin (PRL) and changes in the cytoskeleton. We determined that permeabilized GH3 cells released PRL in a dose-dependent manner upon addition of micromolar Ca(2+). Phalloidin, a filamentous actin (F-actin) stabilizing agent, inhibited both Ca(2+)-dependent and -independent PRL release, whereas cytochalasin B, a destabilizing agent, had almost no effect on the release. Observation with a confocal laser scanning microscope revealed that F-actin existed mainly in the cortical region in the quiescent state. Increased cytosolic Ca(2+) induced a change in F-actin distribution: F-actin in the cortical region decreased, whereas F-actin inside the cells increased. This change in F-actin distribution was not observed when phalloidin was added. Addition of cytochalasin B induced patchy F-actin spots, but the pattern of the changes of F-actin distribution did not change. The time course of change in F-actin distribution showed that the F-actin network in the cortical region was reduced within 1 min, and Ca(2+)-dependent release of PRL continued for up to 20 min. These results suggest that the F-actin network near the membrane acts as a barrier to exocytosis and that Ca(2+) directly controls the cytoskeletal changes.

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T Okada, N Matsuzaki, K Sawai, T Nobunaga, K Shimoya, K Suzuki, N Taniguchi, F Saji and Y Murata

Chorioamnionitis has been shown to be one of the most important factors in inducing preterm delivery. The present study was undertaken to examine the effects of chorioamnionitis on placental endocrine functions. Preterm placentas with histologic chorioamnionitis produced smaller amounts of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and human placental lactogen (hPL) than those without chorioamnionitis (P < 0.001). To examine the mechanism involved in the suppression of placental endocrine functions induced by chorioamnionitis, we initially confirmed the expression of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) receptor, i.e. the CD14 molecule, on trophoblasts by Northern blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. We then stimulated purified trophoblasts with LPS, which is the major agent which induces inflammatory responses in the host via the LPS receptor. The trophoblasts stimulated with LPS produced reduced amounts of hCG, hPL, and progesterone in a time- and dose-dependent fashion in spite of the induced manganese-superoxide dismutase (SOD) synthesis. Stimulation of trophoblasts with hypoxanthine and xanthine oxidase resulted in suppressed hCG production, while the simultaneous addition of SOD into the culture medium reversed the suppression of hCG production. LPS in the placenta with chorioamnionitis might directly stimulate trophoblasts through the LPS receptor (CD14), thus reducing placental endocrine functions. Superoxide anions which exogenously act on trophoblasts might be generated by simultaneous stimulation of neutrophils and monocytes at the feto-maternal interface by LPS, and additively reduce placental endocrine functions.

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K Takahashi, M Ohmichi, M Yoshida, K Hisamoto, S Mabuchi, E Arimoto-Ishida, A Mori, S Tsutsumi, K Tasaka, Y Murata and H Kurachi

The proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) is a crucial pathophysiological process in the development of atherosclerosis. Although estrogen is known to inhibit the proliferation of VSMC, the mechanism responsible for this effect remains to be elucidated. In addition, the effect of raloxifene on VSMC remains unknown. We have shown here that 17beta-estradiol (E(2)) and raloxifene significantly inhibited the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-stimulated proliferation of cultured human VSMC. Flow cytometry demonstrated that PDGF-stimulated S-phase progression of the cell cycle in VSMC was also suppressed by E(2) or raloxifene. We found that PDGF-induced phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein (pRb), whose hyperphosphorylation is a hallmark of the G1-S transition in the cell cycle, was significantly inhibited by E(2) and raloxifene. These effects were associated with a decrease in cyclin D1 expression, without a change in cyclin-dependent kinase 4 or cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p27(kip1) expression. ICI 182,780 abolished the inhibitory effects of E(2) and raloxifene on PDGF-induced pRb phosphorylation. Next, we examined which estrogen receptor (ER) is necessary for these effects of E(2) and raloxifene. Since VSMC express both ERalpha and ERbeta, A10, a rat aortic smooth muscle cell line that expresses ERbeta but not ERalpha, was used. The dose-dependent stimulation of A10 cell proliferation by PDGF was not inhibited by E(2) or raloxifene in contrast to the results obtained in VSMC. Moreover, E(2) and raloxifene significantly inhibited the PDGF-induced cyclin D1 promoter activity in A10 cells transfected with cDNA for ERalpha but not in the parental cells. These results suggested that E(2) and raloxifene exert an antiproliferative effect in VSMC treated with PDGF, at least in part through inhibition of pRb phosphorylation, and that the inhibitory effects of E(2) and raloxifene may be mainly mediated by ERalpha.