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J Wang, J Zhou, CM Cheng, JJ Kopchick and CA Bondy

The possibility that growth hormone (GH) has effects on long bone growth independent of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) has long been debated. If this is true, then long bone growth should be more profoundly affected by the absence of GH (since both GH and GH-stimulated IGF-I effects are absent) than by the absence of IGF-I alone (since GH is still present and actually elevated). To test this hypothesis, we compared long bone growth in mice with targeted deletions of Igf1 vs growth hormone receptor (Ghr). Tibial linear growth rate was reduced by approximately 35% in Igf1 null mice and by about 65% in Ghr null mice between postnatal days 20 and 40, a time of peak GH effect during normal longitudinal growth. The Igf1 null mouse growth plate demonstrated significant enlargement of the germinal zone; chondrocyte proliferation and numbers were normal but chondrocyte hypertrophy was significantly reduced. In contrast, the Ghr null mouse germinal zone was hypoplastic, chondrocyte proliferation and numbers were significantly reduced, and chondrocyte hypertrophy was also reduced. We have previously demonstrated that IGF-II is highly expressed in growth plate germinal and proliferative zones, so we considered the possibility that GH-stimulated IGF-II production might promote germinal zone expansion and maintain normal proliferation in the Igf1 null mouse growth plate. Supporting this view, IGF-II mRNA was increased in the Igf1 null mouse and decreased in the Ghr null mouse growth plate.Thus, in the complete absence of IGF-I but in the presence of elevated GH in the Igf1 null mouse, reduction in chondrocyte hypertrophy appears to be the major defect in longitudinal bone growth. In the complete absence of a GH effect in the Ghr null mouse, however, both chondrocyte generation and hypertrophy are compromised, leading to a compound deficit in long bone growth. These observations support dual roles for GH in promoting longitudinal bone growth: an IGF-I-independent role in growth plate chondrocyte generation and an IGF-I-dependent role in promoting chondrocyte hypertrophy. The question of whether GH has direct effects on chondrocyte generation is still not settled, however, since it now appears that IGF-II may medicate some of these effects on the growth plate.

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Meijia Zhang, Haiyan Hong, Bo Zhou, Shiying Jin, Chao Wang, Maoyong Fu, Songbo Wang and Guoliang Xia

Locally synthesized atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and its receptors have been found in reproductive tissues of various mammals, and play an important role in the acrosome reaction of human sperm. The objective of the present study was to examine the expression of ANP and its receptors in pig spermatozoa and oviduct, and the effect of ANP on pig spermatozoa function. The expression of ANP and its receptors was analyzed by RT-PCR. Only natriuretic peptide receptors-A (NPRA) mRNA was detected in fresh sperm. While the levels of natriuretic peptide receptors-C (NPRC) mRNA were low with no obvious change among different oviductal phases, the levels of ANP mRNA were high in oviduct(OT)1 , OT3 and OT5, but were very low in OT2. On the other hand, the levels of NPRA mRNA were low in OT1 and OT2, increased in OT3 and reached a maximum in OT4 and OT5. Western blot analysis revealed that the level of ANP was high in OT1, decreased in OT2 and OT3, and arrived at the nadir in OT4 and OT5. The effect of ANP on spermatozoa function was studied by the acrosome reaction and IVF. Incubation with ANP for 1 h significantly induced acrosome reaction of preincubated spermatozoa, and maximal response of acrosome reaction (34.1 ± 2.3%) was achieved at 1 nM ANP treatment. Both C-ANP-(4–23), a selective ligand of NPRC, and caffeine had no effect on the acrosome reaction. The stimulatory effect of ANP on acrosome reaction could be mimicked by the permeable cGMP analog, 8-Br-cGMP. ANP and caffeine had a similar effect on improving the oocytes penetration rate, polyspermy rate and the average number of sperm per penetrated oocyte. Also, ANP treatment had a similar effect on cleavage rate, blastocyst formation rate and the number of cells per blastocyst as that of caffeine treatment. The effects of ANP on the acrosome reaction and the parameters of oocyte penetration could be blocked by cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) inhibitors KT5823 and/or Rp-8-pCPT-cGMPS. These results suggest that the expression of ANP in the oviduct may be involved in the regulation of the acrosome reaction and the fertilising ability of pig spermatozoa, and the PKG pathway possibly participates in the process.

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Yuxun Zhou, Li Tong, Maochun Wang, Xueying Chang, Sijia Wang, Kai Li and Junhua Xiao

Puberty onset is a complex trait regulated by multiple genetic and environmental factors. In this study, we narrowed a puberty-related QTL region down to a 1.7 Mb region on chromosome X in female mice and inferred miR-505-3p as the functional gene. We conducted ectopic expression of miR-505-3p in the hypothalamus of prepubertal female mice through lentivirus-mediated orthotopic injection. The impact of miR-505-3p on female puberty was evaluated by the measurement of pubertal/reproduction events and histological analysis. The results showed that female mice with overexpression of miR-505-3p in the hypothalamus manifested later puberty onset timing both in vaginal opening and ovary maturation, followed by weaker fertility lying in the longer interval time between mating and delivery, higher abortion rate and smaller litter size. We also constructed miR-505-3p-knockout mice by CRISPR/Cas9 technology. miR-505-3p-knockout female mice showed earlier vaginal opening timing, higher serum gonadotrophin and higher expression of puberty-related gene in the hypothalamus than their WT littermates. Srsf1 proved to be the target gene of miR-505-3p that played the major role in this process. The results of RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing showed that SRSF1 (or SF2), the protein product of Srsf1 gene, mainly bound to ribosome protein (RP) mRNAs in GT1-7 cells. The collective evidence implied that miR-505-3p/SRSF1/RP could play a role in the sexual maturation regulation of mammals.

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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 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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Y Zhou, R Spangler, CE Maggos, XM Wang, JS Han, A Ho and MJ Kreek

Acute administration of morphine stimulates the secretion of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormones, ACTH, beta-endorphin and corticosterone in the rat. In this study we investigated the effects of repeated multiple-dose morphine on HPA activity under two different conditions: without or with water restriction stress. Rats received six intermittent injections of morphine (6.25 mg/kg per injection, s.c.) every 2 h and were killed 30 min after the last injection. The results were as follows. (1) Morphine significantly elevated plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels; water restriction also significantly increased ACTH secretion, but with no significant increase of plasma corticosterone levels. In contrast, rats treated with morphine under the water restriction condition failed to show any increases of either ACTH or corticosterone levels. (2) Morphine did not change pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA levels in the anterior pituitary; whereas water restriction significantly increased the POMC mRNA levels. The water restriction-induced increases of POMC mRNA in the anterior pituitary were absent in the rats which received morphine. (3) Morphine significantly increased POMC mRNA levels in the hypothalamus; water restriction had no effect. The morphine-induced increases in POMC mRNA in the hypothalamus were absent in the rat under the water restriction condition. These findings, that the effects of morphine on HPA activation or POMC mRNA expression depend on the presence of stress, suggest a counter-regulatory role of opiates on a stress response and opioid gene expression.

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X Wang, Day JR, Y Zhou, JL Beard and R Vasilatos-Younken

Among the many responses to GH administration is suppression of voluntary feed intake (FI) in some species, attributed to improvement in the efficiency of nutrient utilization and, therefore, reduced need for ingested substrates. Commercial broiler chickens have been genetically selected for generations for rapid growth, realized largely via the major correlated response of increased voluntary feed consumption. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) and monoamines play very important roles in the central regulation of feeding. Preliminary studies from our laboratory suggest that the appetite-suppressive effect of GH may be independent of its actions as a repartitioning agent, and may involve alterations in NPY expression at the pre-translational level. The purpose of this investigation was to explore the dose-response nature of the appetite-suppressive effect of GH in juvenile broilers, and the possible involvement of NPY and monoamines in this process. A GH dose-response study was conducted using 8-week-old female broilers infused i.v. with GH in a pulsatile pattern for 7 days at 0, 10, 50, 100 or 200 microgram/kg body weight per day. Hypothalamic NPY and epinephrine (EP) concentrations decreased in a dose-related manner with GH. At the highest dosage, voluntary FI decreased 19% (P<0.05) and hypothalamic NPY mRNA decreased approximately 50% in the infundibular nuclei and midline region (P<0.0001). In contrast, birds pairfed to the high-GH dosage group did not differ from controls, verifying that changes in NPY and monoamines were not secondary to reduced FI. We conclude that hypothalamic NPY and EP are likely candidates to explore further as mediators of the appetite-suppressive effect of GH.

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Hao Wu, Junduo Wu, Shengzhu Zhou, Wenlin Huang, Ying Li, Huan Zhang, Junnan Wang and Ye Jia

Endothelial dysfunction contributes to diabetic macrovascular complications. Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protects against diabetic vasculopathy. SRT2104 is a novel SIRT1 activator and was not previously studied for its effects on diabetes-induced aortic endothelial dysfunction. Additionally, whether or to what extent deacetylation of P53, a substrate of SIRT1, is required for the effects of SIRT1 activation was unclear, given the fact that SIRT1 has multiple targets. Moreover, little was known about the pathogenic role of P53 in diabetes-induced aortic injury. To these ends, diabetes was induced by streptozotocin in C57BL/6 mice. The diabetic mice developed enhanced aortic contractility, oxidative stress, inflammation, P53 hyperacetylation and a remarkable decrease in SIRT1 protein, the effects of which were rescued by SRT2104. In HG-treated endothelial cells (ECs), P53 siRNA and SRT2104 produced similar effects on the induction of SIRT1 and the inhibition of P53 acetylation, oxidative stress and inflammation. Interestingly, SRT2104 failed to further enhance these effects in the presence of P53 siRNA. Moreover, P53 activation by nutlin3a completely abolished SRT2104’s protection against HG-induced oxidative stress and inflammation. Further, forced activation of P53 by nutlin3a increased aortic contractility in the healthy mice and generated endothelial oxidative stress and inflammation in both the normal glucose-cultured ECs and the aortas of the healthy mice. Collectively, the present study demonstrates that P53 deacetylation predominantly mediates SRT2104’s protection against diabetes-induced aortic endothelial dysfunction and highlights the pathogenic role of P53 in aortic endothelial dysfunction.

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Xiang Zhou, Ying Wang, Luisina Ongaro, Ulrich Boehm, Vesa Kaartinen, Yuji Mishina and Daniel J Bernard

Pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) synthesis is regulated by transforming growth factorβsuperfamily ligands, most notably the activins and inhibins. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) also regulate FSHβ subunit (Fshb) expression in immortalized murine gonadotrope-like LβT2 cells and in primary murine or ovine primary pituitary cultures. BMP2 signals preferentially via the BMP type I receptor, BMPR1A, to stimulate murine Fshb transcription in vitro. Here, we used a Cre–lox approach to assess BMPR1A’s role in FSH synthesis in mice in vivo. Gonadotrope-specific Bmpr1a knockout animals developed normally and had reproductive organ weights comparable with those of controls. Knockouts were fertile, with normal serum gonadotropins and pituitary gonadotropin subunit mRNA expression. Cre-mediated recombination of the floxed Bmpr1a allele was efficient and specific, as indicated by PCR analysis of diverse tissues and isolated gonadotrope cells. Furthermore, BMP2 stimulation of inhibitor of DNA binding 3 expression was impaired in gonadotropes isolated from Bmpr1a knockout mice, confirming the loss of functional receptor protein in these cells. Treatment of purified gonadotropes with small-molecule inhibitors of BMPR1A (and the related receptors BMPR1B and ACVR1) suppressed Fshb mRNA expression, suggesting that an autocrine BMP-like molecule might regulate FSH synthesis. However, deletion of Bmpr1a and Acvr1 in cultured pituitary cells did not alter Fshb expression, indicating that the inhibitors had off-target effects. In sum, BMPs or related ligands acting via BMPR1A or ACVR1 are unlikely to play direct physiological roles in FSH synthesis by murine gonadotrope cells.

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Zhihao Liu, Fengrui Wu, Baowei Jiao, Xiuyue Zhang, Chongjiang Hu, Baofeng Huang, Linyan Zhou, Xigui Huang, Zhijian Wang, Yaoguang Zhang, Yoshitaka Nagahama, Christopher H K Cheng and Deshou Wang

To address the roles of doublesex and mab-3-related transcription factor 1 (Dmrt1), forkhead transcription factor gene 2 (Foxl2), and aromatase in sex differentiation of Southern catfish, the cDNA sequences of these genes were isolated from the gonads. Dmrt1a and Dmrt1b were found to be expressed in the gonads, being higher in the testis. A low expression level of Dmrt1b was also detected in the intestine and kidney of the male. Foxl2 was found to be expressed extensively in the brain (B), pituitary (P), gill and gonads (G), with the highest level in the ovary, indicating the possible involvement of Foxl2 in the B–P–G axis. Cytochrome P450 (Cyp)19b was found to be expressed in the brain, spleen, and gonads, while Cyp19a was only expressed in the gonads and spleen. All-female Southern catfish fry were treated with fadrozole (F), tamoxifen (TAM), and 17β-estradiol (E2) respectively, from 5 to 25 days after hatching (dah). The expression levels of these genes were measured at 65 dah. In the F-, TAM-, and FTAM-treated groups, Dmrt1a and Dmrt1b were up-regulated in the gonad, whereas Foxl2 and Cyp19a were down-regulated, while the expression of Cyp19b in the gonad remained unchanged. Furthermore, down-regulation of Foxl2 and Cyp19b was also detected in the brain. In the E2-treated group, Dmrt1a and Dmrt1b were down-regulated to an undetectable level in the gonad, whereas Foxl2 and Cyp19b were up-regulated in the brain. Consistent with the observed changes in the expressions of these genes, 56, 70, and 80% sex-reversed male individuals were obtained in the F-, TAM-, and F + TAM-treated groups respectively. These results indicate the significant roles of Dmrt1, Foxl2, and Cyp19 in the sex differentiation of Southern catfish.