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Li Zhang, XiaoXin Zhang, Xuejing Zhang, Yu Lu, Lei Li and Sheng Cui

MicroRNAs (MiRNAs) play important regulatory roles in many cellular processes. MiR-143 is highly enriched in the mouse ovary, but its roles and underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In the current study, we show that miR-143 is located in granulosa cells of primary, secondary and antral follicles. To explore the specific functions of miR-143, we transfected miR-143 inhibitor into primary cultured granulosa cells to study the loss of function of miR-143 and the results showed that miR-143 silencing significantly increased estradiol production and steroidogenesis-related gene expression. Moreover, our in vivo and in vitro studies showed that follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) significantly decreased miR-143 expression. This function of miR-143 is accomplished by its binding to the 3’-UTR of KRAS mRNA. Furthermore, our results demonstrated that miR-143 acts as a negative regulating molecule mediating the signaling pathway of FSH and affecting estradiol production by targeting KRAS. MiR-143 also negatively acts in regulating granulosa cells proliferation and cell cycle-related genes expression. These findings indicate that miR-143 plays vital roles in FSH-induced estradiol production and granulosa cell proliferation, providing a novel mechanism that involves miRNA in regulating granulosa cell functions.

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Jing Li, Pan-Pan Zhao, Ting Hao, Dan Wang, Yu Wang, Yang-Zi Zhu, Yu-Qing Wu and Cheng-Hua Zhou

Urotensin II (U-II), a cyclic peptide originally isolated from the caudal neurosecretory system of fishes, can produce proinflammatory effects through its specific G protein-coupled receptor, GPR14. Neuropathic pain, a devastating disease, is related to excessive inflammation in the spinal dorsal horn. However, the relationship between U-II and neuropathic pain has not been reported. This study was designed to investigate the effect of U-II antagonist on neuropathic pain and to understand the associated mechanisms. We reported that U-II and its receptor GPR14 were persistently upregulated and activated in the dorsal horn of L4–6 spinal cord segments after chronic constriction injury (CCI) in rats. Intrathecal injection of SB657510, a specific antagonist against U-II, reversed CCI-induced thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia. Furthermore, we found that SB657510 reduced the expression of phosphorylated c-Jun N-terminal kinase (p-JNK) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) p65 as well as subsequent secretion of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). It was also showed that both the JNK inhibitor SP600125 and the NF-κB inhibitor PDTC significantly attenuated thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in CCI rats. Our present research showed that U-II receptor antagonist alleviated neuropathic pain possibly through the suppression of the JNK/NF-κB pathway in CCI rats, which will contribute to the better understanding of function of U-II and pathogenesis of neuropathic pain.

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Run Yu, Martha Cruz-Soto, Sergio Li Calzi, Hongxiang Hui and Shlomo Melmed

Human pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1 (PTTG1) encodes a securin protein critically important in regulating chromosome separation. Murine PTTG (mPTTG) is 66% homologous to human PTTG1 and PTTG-null (PTTG−/−) mice exhibit pancreatic β-cell hypoplasia and abnormal nuclear morphology with resultant diabetes. As we show that ductal β-cell neogenesis is intact in PTTG−/− mice, we explored mechanism for defective β-cell replication. We tested whether mPTTG exhibits securin properties in mouse insulin-secreting insulinoma MIN6 cells, using a live-cell system to monitor mitosis in cells transfected with an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-tagged mPTTG conjugate (mPTTG-EGFP). To fulfill the criteria for securin properties, the protein should undergo degradation immediately before the metaphase-to-anaphase transition when expression levels are low, and should inhibit metaphase-to-anaphase transition when expression levels are high. EGFP itself did not undergo degradation throughout mitosis and high levels of EGFP per se did not affect normal mitosis progression (n=25). However, mPTTG-EGFP was degraded 2 min before the metaphase-to-anaphase transition when expression levels were low (n=19), and high mPTTG-EGFP levels blocked metaphase-to-anaphase transition in 13 cells. mPTTG-EGFP inhibited MIN6 cell proliferation and caused apoptosis. Immunocoprecipitation demonstrated binding of mPTTG-EGFP and separase. These results show that mPTTG exhibits properties consistent with a murine securin in insulin-secreting mouse cells and mPTTG overexpression inhibits cell proliferation, suggesting that defective β-cell proliferation observed in PTTG−/− mice is likely due to abnormal cell-cycle progression.

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Can Liu, Mian Zhang, Meng-yue Hu, Hai-fang Guo, Jia Li, Yun-li Yu, Shi Jin, Xin-ting Wang, Li Liu and Xiao-dong Liu

Panax ginseng is one of the most popular herbal remedies. Ginsenosides, major bioactive constituents in P. ginseng, have shown good antidiabetic action, but the precise mechanism was not fully understood. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) is considered to be an important incretin that can regulate glucose homeostasis in the gastrointestinal tract after meals. The aim of this study was to investigate whether ginseng total saponins (GTS) exerts its antidiabetic effects via modulating GLP1 release. Ginsenoside Rb1 (Rb1), the most abundant constituent in GTS, was selected to further explore the underlying mechanisms in cultured NCI-H716 cells. Diabetic rats were developed by a combination of high-fat diet and low-dose streptozotocin injection. The diabetic rats orally received GTS (150 or 300 mg/kg) daily for 4 weeks. It was found that GTS treatment significantly ameliorated hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia, accompanied by a significant increase in glucose-induced GLP1 secretion and upregulation of proglucagon gene expression. Data from NCI-H716 cells showed that both GTS and Rb1 promoted GLP1 secretion. It was observed that Rb1 increased the ratio of intracellular ATP to ADP concentration and intracellular Ca2 + concentration. The metabolic inhibitor azide (3 mM), the KATP channel opener diazoxide (340 μM), and the Ca2 + channel blocker nifedipine (20 μM) significantly reversed Rb1-mediated GLP1 secretion. All these results drew a conclusion that ginsenosides stimulated GLP1 secretion both in vivo and in vitro. The antidiabetic effects of ginsenosides may be a result of enhanced GLP1 secretion.

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Lili Men, Junjie Yao, Shanshan Yu, Yu Li, Siyuan Cui, Shi Jin, Guixin Zhang, Decheng Ren and Jianling Du

The induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is associated with adipogenesis, during which the inositol-requiring enzyme 1 alpha (IRE1α)-X-box-binding protein 1 (XBP1) pathway is involved. Selenoprotein S (SelS), which is an ER resident selenoprotein, is involved in ER homeostasis regulation; however, little is known about the role of SelS in regulating adipogenesis. In vivo studies showed that SelS protein levels in white adipose tissue were increased in obese subjects and high-fat diet (HFD)-fed mice. Moreover, we identified that SelS protein levels increased in the early phase of adipogenesis and then decreased in the late phase during adipogenesis. Overexpression of SelS promoted adipogenesis. Conversely, knockdown (KD) of SelS resulted in the inhibition of adipogenesis, which was related to increasing cell death, decreased mitotic clonal expansion, and cell cycle G1 arrest. In vivo studies also showed that ER stress markers (p-IRE1α/IRE1α, XBP1s, and Grp78) were significantly increased with upregulating of SelS expression in subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissues in the obese subjects and HFD-fed mice. Furthermore, in SelS KD cells, the levels of Grp78 were increased and the levels of p-IRE1α/IRE1α were unchanged , but mRNA levels of spliced XBP1 (XBP1s) produced by IRE1α-mediated splicing were decreased, suggesting a role of SelS in the modulation of IRE1α-XBP1 pathway. Moreover, inhibition of adipogenesis by SelS suppression can be rescued by overexpression of XBP1s. Thus, SelS appears to function as a novel regulator of adipogenesis through the IRE1α-XBP1 signaling pathway.

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Shou-Si Lu, Yun-Li Yu, Hao-Jie Zhu, Xiao-Dong Liu, Li Liu, Yao-Wu Liu, Ping Wang, Lin Xie and Guang-Ji Wang

Berberine (BBR), a hypoglycemic agent, has shown beneficial metabolic effects for anti-diabetes, but its precise mechanism was unclear. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is considered to be an important incretin that can decrease hyperglycemia in the gastrointestinal tract after meals. The aim of this study was to investigate whether BBR exerts its anti-diabetic effects via modulating GCG secretion. Diabetes-like rats induced by streptozotocin received BBR (120 mg/kg per day, i.g) for 5 weeks. Two hours following the last dose, the rats were anaesthetized and received 2.5 g/kg glucose by gavage. At 15-minute and 30-minute after glucose load, blood samples, pancreas, and intestines were obtained to measure insulin and GCG using ELISA kit. The number of L cells in the ileum and β-cells in the pancreas were identified using immunohistology. The expression of proglucagon mRNA in the ileum was measured by RT-PCR. The results indicated that BBR treatment significantly increased GCG levels in plasma and intestine (P<0.05) accompanied with the increase of proglucagon mRNA expression and the number of L-cell compared with the controls (P<0.05). Furthermore, BBR increased insulin levels in plasma and pancreas as well as β-cell number in pancreas. The data support the hypothesis that the anti-diabetic effects of BBR may partly result from enhancing GCG secretion.

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Li Wang, Yufeng Zhao, Baosong Gui, Rongguo Fu, Feng Ma, Jun Yu, Ping Qu, Lei Dong and Chen Chen

The role of free fatty acids (FFAs) in glucagon secretion has not been well established, and the involvement of FFA receptor GPR40 and its downstream signaling pathways in regulating glucagon secretion are rarely demonstrated. In this study, it was found that linoleic acid (LA) acutely stimulated glucagon secretion from primary cultured rat pancreatic islets. LA at 20 and 40 μmol/l dose-dependently increased glucagon secretion both at 3 mmol/l glucose and at 15 mmol/l glucose, although 15 mmol/l glucose reduced basal glucagon levels. LA induced an increase in cytoplasmic free calcium concentrations ([Ca2 +]i) in identified rat α-cells, which is reflected by increased Fluo-3 intensity under confocal microscopy recording. The increase in [Ca2 +]i was partly inhibited by removal of extracellular Ca2 + and eliminated overall by further exhaustion of intracellular Ca2 + stores using thapsigargin treatment, suggesting that both Ca2 + release and Ca2 + influx contributed to the LA-stimulated increase in [Ca2 +]i in α-cells. Double immunocytochemical stainings showed that GPR40 was expressed in glucagon-positive α-cells. LA-stimulated increase in [Ca2 +]i was blocked by inhibition of GPR40 expression in α-cells after GPR40-specific antisense treatment. The inhibition of phospholipase C activity by U73122 also blocked the increase in [Ca2 +]i by LA. It is concluded that LA activates GPR40 and phospholipase C (and downstream signaling pathways) to increase Ca2 + release and associated Ca2 + influx through Ca2 + channels, resulting in increase in [Ca2 +]i and glucagon secretion.

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Zhiguo Liu, Chun Yan Lim, Michelle Yu-Fah Su, Stephanie Li Ying Soh, Guanghou Shui, Markus R Wenk, Kevin L Grove, George K Radda, Weiping Han and Xiaoqiu Xiao

Neonatal overnutrition results in accelerated development of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced metabolic defects in adulthood. To understand whether the increased susceptibility was associated with aggravated inflammation and dysregulated lipid metabolism, we studied metabolic changes and insulin signaling in a chronic postnatal overnutrition (CPO) mouse model. Male Swiss Webster pups were raised with either three pups per litter to induce CPO or ten pups per litter as control (CTR) and weaned to either low-fat diet (LFD) or HFD. All animals were killed on the postnatal day 150 (P150) except for a subset of mice killed on P15 for the measurement of stomach weight and milk composition. CPO mice exhibited accelerated body weight gain and increased body fat mass prior to weaning and the difference persisted into adulthood under conditions of both LFD and HFD. As adults, insulin signaling was more severely impaired in epididymal white adipose tissue (WAT) from HFD-fed CPO (CPO–HFD) mice. In addition, HFD-induced upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines was exaggerated in CPO–HFD mice. Consistent with greater inflammation, CPO–HFD mice showed more severe macrophage infiltration than HFD-fed CTR (CTR–HFD) mice. Furthermore, when compared with CTR–HFD mice, CPO–HFD mice exhibited reduced levels of several lipogenic enzymes in WAT and excess intramyocellular lipid accumulation. These data indicate that neonatal overnutrition accelerates the development of insulin resistance and exacerbates HFD-induced metabolic defects, possibly by worsening HFD-induced inflammatory response and impaired lipid metabolism.

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Tong Sun, Wen-Bo Deng, Hong-Lu Diao, Hua Ni, Yu-Yan Bai, Xing-Hong Ma, Li-Bin Xu and Zeng-Ming Yang

Prostaglandin (PGE) 2 is the most common prostanoid and plays an important role in female reproduction. The aim of this study was to examine the expression and regulation of microsomal (m) PGE synthase (PGES)-1 and cytosolic (c) PGES in the mouse ovary during sexual maturation, gonadotropin treatment and luteal development by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Both mPGES-1 mRNA signals and immunostaining were localized in the granulosa cells, but not in the thecal cells and oocytes. cPGES mRNA signals were localized in both granulosa cells and oocytes, whereas cPGES immunostaining was exclusively localized in the oocytes. In our superovulated model of immature mice, there was a basal level of mPGES-1 mRNA signals in the granulosa cells at 48 h after equine chorionic gonadotropin (eCG) treatment. mPGES-1 mRNA level was induced by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) treatment for 0.5 h, whereas mPGES-1 immunostaining was slightly induced at 0.5 h after hCG treatment and reached a maximal level at 3 h after hCG treatment. eCG treatment had no obvious effects on either cPGES mRNA signals or immunostaining. A strong level of cPGES immunostaining was present in both unstimulated and eCG-treated groups. Both mPGES-1 mRNA signals and immunostaining were highly detected in the corpus luteum 2 days post-hCG injection and declined from days 3 to 7 post-hCG injection. cPGES immunostaining was at a basal level or not detectable from days 1 to 7 after hCG injection and was highly expressed in the corpus luteum from days 9 to 15 post-hCG injection. PGE2 biosynthesized through the mPGES-1 pathway may be important for follicular development, ovulation and luteal formation.

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Shuisheng Li, Yong Zhang, Yun Liu, Xigui Huang, Weiren Huang, Danqi Lu, Pei Zhu, Yu Shi, Christopher H K Cheng, Xiaochun Liu and Haoran Lin

To ascertain the neuroendocrine function of the kisspeptin/GPR54 system in non-mammalian species, full-length cDNAs encoding for Kiss1 and Kiss2 as well as their putative cognate receptors GPR54a and GPR54b, were isolated from goldfish (Carassius auratus). The deduced protein sequences between Kiss1 and Kiss2 in goldfish share very low similarity, but their putative mature peptides (kisspeptin-10) are relatively conserved. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that the goldfish kiss1 gene (gfkiss1) is highly expressed in the optic tectum-thalamus, intestine, kidney, and testis, while the goldfish kiss2 gene (gfkiss2) is mainly detected in the hypothalamus, telencephalon, optic tectum thalamus, adipose tissue, kidney, heart, and gonads. The two receptor genes (gfgpr54a and gfgpr54b) are highly expressed in the brain regions including telencephalon, optic tectum thalamus, and hypothalamus. Both mature goldfish kisspeptin-10 peptides (gfKiss1–10 and gfKiss2–10) are biologically active as they could functionally interact with the two goldfish receptors expressed in cultured eukaryotic cells to trigger the downstream signaling pathways with different potencies. The actions of gfKiss1–10 and gfKiss2–10 on LH secretion were further investigated in vitro and in vivo. Intraperitoneal administration of gfKiss1–10 to sexually mature female goldfish could increase the serum LH levels. However, this peptide does not significantly influence LH release from goldfish pituitary cells in primary culture, indicating that the peptide does not exert its actions at the pituitary level. On the other hand, gfKiss2–10 appears to be a much less potent peptide as it exhibits no significant in vivo bioactivity and is also inactive on the primary pituitary cells.