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Y Zhang and TA Marchant

The present study constitutes the characterization of a specific, high-affinity GH-binding protein (GHBP) in the serum of a teleost, the goldfish (Carassius auratus). GH-binding assay and ligand blotting techniques were employed to identify GHBPs in goldfish serum and hepatocyte culture medium. The binding characteristics and apparent molecular weights (Mr) of goldfish GHBPs were also compared with those of rabbit and rat. LIGAND analysis identified a single class of high-affinity and low-capacity binding sites for iodinated recombinant carp GH (rcGH) in the goldfish serum, with an association constant (Ka) of 20.1x10(9) M-1 and a maximum binding capacity (Bmax) of 161 fmol ml-1 serum. A single class of binding sites for iodinated recombinant sea bream GH and bovine GH (bGH) was also found in goldfish serum, but with a much lower affinity than that of rcGH. The binding affinity for iodinated bGH in rabbit and rat sera was found to be similar to that reported previously. Ligand blotting revealed multiple forms of GHBPs in sera of goldfish, rabbit and rat with Mr ranging from 70 kDa to 400 kDa and 27 kDa to 240 kDa under non-reducing and reducing conditions respectively. A prominent band with Mr of 66 kDa and a minor band with Mr of 27 kDa were observed to occur in sera from all three species under reducing conditions. Iodoacetamide promoted the shedding of three GHBPs with Mr of 25, 40 and 45 kDa from the cultured goldfish hepatocytes. The appearance of all bands was completely inhibited by the presence of excess unlabeled rcGH. Our results provide clear evidence that a GHBP exists in the goldfish and indicate that more information on teleost GHBPs is needed if the physiology of growth in teleosts is to be fully understood.

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Y. L. Zhang, Z. X. Zhou, Y. D. Zhang, and M. G. Parker


Prostatic steroid-binding protein (PSBP) mRNAs transcribed from the three genes C1, C2 and C3 were quantitated in neonatal rat ventral prostate by Northern blot analysis. Transcription was initiated at day 14 for C1 and C2 and day 10 for C3, and reached mature levels by day 21 for C1 and C2 and day 28 for C3. The changes of both cytoplasmic and nuclear prostatic androgen receptors in 10- to 150-day-old rats were investigated by radioligand assay and showed a fivefold transient increase between days 10 and 28. Thus there was a good correlation between the onset of PSBP gene expression and the transient increase in androgen receptors; increases in receptor concentration may be a prerequisite for changes in gene expression.

J. Endocr. (1988) 117, 361–366

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G Li, Y Zhang, JT Wilsey, and PJ Scarpace

The effects of the chronic activation of the central melanocortin (MC) system by melanotan II (MTII) were assessed in chow-fed (CH) and high-fat (HF) diet-induced obese (DIO) Sprague-Dawley rats. Six-day central infusion of MTII (1 nmol/day) reduced body weight and visceral adiposity compared with ad libitum-fed control and pair-fed groups and markedly suppressed caloric intake in both CH and DIO rats. The anorexic response to MTII was similar in DIO relative to CH rats. MTII induced a sustained increase in oxygen consumption in DIO but a delayed response in CH rats. In both diet groups, MTII reduced serum insulin and cholesterol levels compared with controls. HF feeding increased brown adipose tissue (BAT) uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) by over twofold, and UCP1 levels were further elevated in MTII-treated CH and DIO rats. MTII lowered acetyl-CoA carboxylase expression and prevented the reduction in muscle-type carnitine palmitoyltransferase I mRNA by pair-feeding in the muscle of DIO rats. Compared with CH controls, hypothalamic MC3 and MC4 receptor expression levels were reduced in DIO controls. This study has demonstrated that, despite reduced hypothalamic MC3/MC4 receptor expression, anorexic and thermogenic responses to MTII are unabated with an initial augmentation of energy expenditure in DIO versus CH rats. The HF-induced up-regulation of UCP1 in BAT may contribute to the immediate increase in MTII-stimulated thermogenesis in DIO rats. MTII also increased fat catabolism in the muscle of DIO rats and improved glucose and cholesterol metabolism in both groups.

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Y. D. Li, Z. W. Zhang, and W. X. Li


The effect of transferrin on basal and FSH-stimulated aromatase activity of granulosa cells from immature female rats treated with diethylstilboestrol (DES) was examined in vitro by a radiometric method. The basal activity of the enzyme was very low after 3 days of incubation. Treatment with FSH (20 ng/ml) resulted in a 9·6-fold increase in activity, whereas coincubation with increasing doses of transferrin (3–300 μg/ml) produced a dose-dependent inhibition of FSH-stimulated aromatase activity with a projected minimal effective dose of < 2 μg/ml. A time-course study showed that the inhibitory effect of transferrin on aromatase activity has become significant at 48 h of incubation.

The inhibitory action of transferrin on the enzyme complex was further confirmed by showing that the FSH dose–response curve was significantly suppressed by concomitant treatment with 100 μg transferrin/ml with a maximum suppression of 54·1 % at a dose of 30 ng FSH/ml.

The possibility that transferrin may act through a non-specific inhibitory effect seems unlikely, as no changes in cell number and DNA content per well were observed. In fact, protein synthesis was enhanced after treatment with transferrin. Aromatase activity, stimulated by several promoters of cyclic AMP (cAMP), such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), forskolin and 8-bromo-cAMP, was significantly suppressed by 100 μg transferrin/ml (36·6, 47·4 and 23·4% inhibition respectively), suggesting that the effect of transferrin on FSH action may involve a site(s) distal to cAMP generation.

These findings indicated that transferrin, present in follicular fluid, may play an important role in the regulation of granulosa cell differentiation.

Journal of Endocrinology (1991) 131, 245–250

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CG Korkmaz, K Fronsdal, Y Zhang, PI Lorenzo, and F Saatcioglu

Androgens are critical in the development and maintenance of the male reproductive system and important in the progression of prostate cancer. The effects of androgens are mediated by the androgen receptor (AR), which is a ligand-modulated transcription factor that belongs to the nuclear receptor superfamily. We and others have previously shown that CREB-binding protein (CBP) can function as a coactivator for AR. Similar to some other nuclear receptor coactivators and/or the proteins that they interact with, CBP has histone acetyl transferase (HAT) activity that is thought to contribute to transcriptional activation by nuclear receptors. We have therefore assessed whether an increase in the histone acetylation status in the cell can influence AR transcriptional activity, by using the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors (HDACIs) trichostatin A (TSA), sodium butyrate (Na-But) and depsipeptide (FR901228). We found that inhibition of HDAC activity significantly increased the ability of endogenous AR in LNCaP cells, or ectopically expressed AR in HeLa cells, to activate transcription from AR-dependent reporter constructs. In addition, HDACIs increased the androgen-dependent activation of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) gene in LNCaP cells, an increase that was not due to an increase in nuclear AR protein levels. Moreover, the viral oncoprotein E1A that inhibits CBP HAT activity fully repressed the ability of HDACIs to stimulate AR-mediated transcription, indicating that CBP is involved in this process. Deletional mutagenesis of AR indicated that whereas the AF-2 domain in the C-terminus is dispensable, the AF-1 domain in the N-terminus is required for augmentation of AR action by HDACIs, an observation which is in concordance with the reduced ability of CBP to activate AR N-terminal deletion mutants. Furthermore, HDACI treatment rescued the deficiency in the transactivation potential of AF-2 mutants. Taken together, our findings suggest that a change in the level of histone acetylation of target genes is an important determinant of AR action, possibly mediated by CBP.

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M K Judge, Y Zhang, and P J Scarpace

Endocannabinoids (EC) are involved in regulating energy homeostasis, particularly in promoting hyperphagia and the consumption of a palatable diet. We have previously shown that rats given a high-fat (HF) diet display a transient hyperphagia that is normalized by a process partially dependent on leptin. We now propose that the induction of this hyperphagia is mediated, at least partially, by the EC signaling system. Obesity, including diet-induced and age-related, is associated with dysregulation of the EC system, and obese rodent models are hypersensitive to a cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptor antagonist. This suggests that aged rats will be more responsive to the anorectic effects of a CB1 receptor antagonist. To test this, we examined the responsiveness to CB1 receptor antagonist, AM251, in young and aged rats during two experimental paradigms. First, we administered AM251 simultaneously with the introduction of an HF diet. Second, AM251 treatment began after the establishment of diet-induced obesity. Responses were measured by changes in body weight and composition, calorie intake, serum leptin, and biochemical indicators. The results demonstrated three key findings. 1) CB1 receptor activity contributes to the hyperphagia seen with the introduction of an HF diet. 2) Increased AM251 sensitivity and efficacy is increased with age and HF feeding, with the greatest responsiveness observed in HF-fed, aged rats. 3) AM251 sensitivity is elevated to a greater extent with HF diet than with established obesity. Thus, both age and an HF diet are associated with enhanced anorectic responses to AM251, but the underlying mechanism of these responses remains speculative.

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D Wu, C Chen, J Zhang, C Y Bowers, and I J Clarke


The mechanism of action of GH-releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6) and GHRP-2 on GH release was investigated in ovine and rat pituitary cells in vitro. In partially purified sheep somatotrophs, GHRP-2 and GH-releasing factor (GRF) increased intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) concentrations and caused GH release in a dose-dependent manner; GHRP-6 did not increase cAMP levels. An additive effect of maximal doses of GRF and GHRP-2 was observed in both cAMP and GH levels whereas combined GHRP-6 and GHRP-2 at maximal doses produced an additive effect on GH release only. Pretreatment of the cells with MDL 12,330A, an adenylyl cyclase inhibitor, prevented cAMP accumulation and the subsequent release of GH that was caused by either GHRP-2 or GRF. The cAMP antagonist, Rp-cAMP also blocked GH release in response to GHRP-2 and GRF. The cAMP antagonist did not prevent the effect of GHRP-6 on GH secretion whereas MDL 12,330A partially reduced the effect. An antagonist for the GRF receptor, [Ac-Tyr1,d-Arg2]-GRF 1–29, significantly diminished the effect of GHRP-2 and GRF on cAMP accumulation and GH release, but did not affect GH release induced by GHRP-6. Somatostatin prevented cAMP accumulation and GH release responses to GHRP-2, GRF and GHRP-6. Ca2+ channel blockade did not affect the cAMP increase in response to GHRP-2 or GRF but totally prevented GH release in response to GHRP-2, GRF and GHRP-6. These results indicated that GHRP-2 acts on ovine pituitary somatotrophs to increase cAMP concentration in a manner similar to that of GRF; this occurs even during the blockade of Ca2+ influx. GHRP-6 caused GH release without an increase in intracellular cAMP levels. GH release in response to all three secretagogues was reduced by somatostatin and was dependent upon the influx of extracellular Ca2+. The additive effect of GHRP-2 and GRF or GHRP-6 suggested that the three peptides may act on different receptors. In rat pituitary cell cultures, GHRP-6 had no effect on cAMP levels, but potentiated the effect of GRF on cAMP accumulation. The synergistic effect of GRF and GHRP-6 on cAMP accumulation did not occur in sheep somatotrophs. Whereas GHRP-2 caused cAMP accumulation in sheep somatotrophs, it did not do so in rat pituitary cells. These data indicate species differences in the response of pituitary somatotrophs to the GHRPs and this is probably due to different subtypes of GHRP receptor in rat or sheep.

Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 148, 197–205

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Y Zhang, JT Wilsey, CD Frase, MM Matheny, BS Bender, S Zolotukhin, and PJ Scarpace

Leptin is a peripheral immunoenhancing reagent that directly activates splenic lymphocytes in mice. We found that a 48 h fast in rats resulted in a decrease in serum leptin that was accompanied by a lower delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response. Peripheral leptin replacement completely restored this response in fasted animals. We employed a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) system to deliver leptin gene directly into rat brain to assess the effect of sustained long-term central expression of leptin on immune responses. The rAAV-leptin rats had elevated central leptin over the 60 day duration of the experiment, whereas body fat and circulating leptin fell to near zero levels. The DTH response was significantly reduced by 10-20% in rats receiving rAAV-leptin compared with the control rats, and the difference was maintained for over 50 h. When the rats undergoing rAAV-leptin gene therapy were given either murine recombinant leptin or PBS s.c., rats receiving leptin had a 17% higher DTH response than rats receiving PBS. The isolated splenocytes from the former group also proliferated 34% more in vitro in response to the mitogen concanavalin A as compared with the latter group. These results suggest that peripheral leptin has a dominant role in maintaining T-cell-mediated immune responses in rats, and central leptin is unable to compensate for the immunosuppression associated with peripheral hypoleptinemia. Furthermore, preservation of normal cell-mediated immune responses does not require fat tissue as along as serum leptin levels are maintained.

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R Morishita, GH Gibbons, Y Kaneda, L Zhang, T Ogihara, and VJ Dzau

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease results from complex interactions among multiple genetic and environmental factors. Thus, it is important to elucidate the influence of each factor on cholesterol metabolism. For this purpose, transgenic/gene-targeting technology is a powerful tool for studying gene functions. However, this technology has several disadvantages such as being time consuming and expensive. Accordingly, we established new animal models using in vivo gene transfer technology. In this study, we examined the feasibility of the creation of a new animal model for the study of atherosclerosis. We hypothesized that apolipoprotein (apo) E-deficient mice can be created by systemic administration of antisense apo E oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) coupled to the HVJ-liposome complex. Initially, we examined the localization and cellular fate of FITC-labeled antisense ODN administered intravenously. FITC-labeled ODN transfection by the HVJ-liposome method resulted in fluorescence in the liver, spleen and kidney, but not in other organs such as brain. Moreover, fluorescence with the HVJ-liposome method was sustained for up to 2 weeks after transfection, which resulted in a striking difference from transfection of ODN alone or ODN in liposomes without HVJ, which showed rapid disappearance of fluorescence (within 1 day). Given these unique characteristics of the HVJ-liposome method, we next examined transfection of antisense apo E ODN by intravenous administration. Transfection of antisense apo E ODN resulted in a marked reduction of apo E mRNA levels in the liver, but no change in apo B and beta-actin mRNA levels. In mice fed a normal diet, a transient increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels was observed in the antisense apo E-treated group, but they returned to normal levels by 6 days after transfection. Similar findings were also found in mice fed a high cholesterol diet. Neither scrambled nor mismatched ODN resulted in any increase in cholesterol. To make chronic hypercholesterolemic mice, we therefore performed repeated injections of apo E antisense ODN. Whenever antisense apo E ODN were injected, mice showed a transient increase in cholesterol and triglyceride. Cumulative administration of antisense apo E ODN resulted in a sustained increase in cholesterol for up to 3 weeks after the last transfection. Finally, mice treated with repeated injections of antisense apo E every week developed sustained hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia until withdrawal of injections. Apolipoprotein-deficient mice created by intravenous administration of antisense ODN are a promising new animal model to help understand the role of apolipoprotein in vivo and develop a new drug therapy targeting apolipoprotein.

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Yi Zhang, Yunfeng Liu, Jihong Qu, Alexandre Hardy, Nina Zhang, Jingyu Diao, Paul J Strijbos, Robert Tsushima, Richard B Robinson, Herbert Y Gaisano, Qinghua Wang, and Michael B Wheeler

Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels regulate pacemaker activity in some cardiac cells and neurons. In the present study, we have identified the presence of HCN channels in pancreatic β-cells. We then examined the functional characterization of these channels in β-cells via modulating HCN channel activity genetically and pharmacologically. Voltage-clamp experiments showed that over-expression of HCN2 in rat β-cells significantly increased HCN current (I h), whereas expression of dominant-negative HCN2 (HCN2-AYA) completely suppressed endogenous I h. Compared to control β-cells, over-expression of I h increased insulin secretion at 2.8 mmol/l glucose. However, suppression of I h did not affect insulin secretion at both 2.8 and 11.1 mmol/l glucose. Current-clamp measurements revealed that HCN2 over-expression significantly reduced β-cell membrane input resistance (R in), and resulted in a less-hyperpolarizing membrane response to the currents injected into the cell. Conversely, dominant negative HCN2-AYA expression led to a substantial increase of R in, which was associated with a more hyperpolarizing membrane response to the currents injected. Remarkably, under low extracellular potassium conditions (2.5 mmol/l K+), suppression of I h resulted in increased membrane hyperpolarization and decreased insulin secretion. We conclude that I h in β-cells possess the potential to modulate β-cell membrane potential and insulin secretion under hypokalemic conditions.