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Isolation of the rat gene for Mullerian inhibiting substance

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:50pm

Mullerian inhibiting substance (MIS), a testicular glycoprotein also known as anti-Mullerian hormone, plays a key role in male sexual development by causing regression of the Mullerian duct, the anlagen of the uterus, the Fallopian tubes, and part of the vagina. MIS is also expressed in the postnatal ovary, but its precise function is still not known. We report here the complete nucleotide sequence of the rat MIS gene. Rat MIS is encoded in five exons and is synthesized as a precursor of 553 amino acids, containing a 24-amino-acid leader. Based on homology with human MIS, we predict that the rat protein undergoes proteolytic processing at a site 108 amino acids from the C-terminus. Expression of the rat MIS mRNA is high in the 1-day-postnatal testis and decreases to a low level in the adult testis. In contrast, expression is not detected in the 1-day ovary, but increases to an intermediate level in the adult ovary. The rat gene should provide a good model for studying transcriptional regulation of MIS in the testis and ovary.

Developmentally regulated polyadenylation of two discrete messenger ribonucleic acids for mullerian inhibiting substance

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:50pm

Mullerian inhibiting substance (MIS) is a 140-kilodalton homodimeric glycoprotein that causes regression of the Mullerian ducts in male embryos, and may also have a role in both males and females in the regulation of germ cell maturation. We examined the ontogeny of MIS messenger RNA (mRNA) in rat testes from midgestation through adulthood and found two discrete MIS mRNA species that are developmentally regulated. The larger 2.0-kilobase species is abundant at embryonic day 14, then decreases in late gestation, and is barely detectable after birth. The smaller 1.8-kilobase species is first noted at embryonic day 18 and is the major species detected postnatally. Both species are abundant just prior to birth, at embryonic day 21, then decrease markedly after birth. This variation in MIS mRNA levels correlates with the developmental expression of MIS protein. A series of oligonucleotide-directed ribonuclease H mapping experiments determined that the two mRNA species differ at their 3' ends in the extent of polyadenylation. Thus, differential polyadenylation of MIS mRNA may be an additional mechanism for regulating MIS expression during fetal and postnatal development.

Mullerian inhibiting substance production and cleavage is modulated by gonadotropins and steroids

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:50pm

Analysis of the ontogeny and localization of the amino (N)-terminal and carboxy (C)-terminal cleavage products of Mullerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS) and their modulation by hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal axis by immunohistochemistry and Northern analysis led to the discovery of a novel mode of posttranslational regulation of this differentiating agent. Antibody to both holo- and C-terminal MIS identically stained the cytosol of testicular Sertoli cells from 21-day fetal rats, whereas staining of antibody to N-terminal MIS localized to the basement membrane of seminiferous tubules. In addition, when studied longitudinally, basement membrane staining for N-terminal MIS persisted; cytosolic staining for C-terminal MIS was no longer detectable in post-natal testes, but marked basement membrane staining for the N-terminal fragment could still be observed in the testes of untreated 7-day postnatal animals. When 19-day fetuses were injected with FSH, testes collected 2 days later showed less immunohistochemical staining for holo-, N-, and C-terminal MIS, and less MIS messenger RNA. This suggested that FSH downregulates MIS transcription, as had been shown previously in neonatal testes treated with FSH. Testes collected at 21 days from fetuses treated at day 19 in utero with human CG or testosterone, also showed less staining for holo-MIS, but, surprisingly, increased staining for the N- and C-terminal fragments. These changes in MIS protein were accompanied by no or minimal changes in MIS messenger RNA levels, indicating that human CG and testosterone do not affect transcription, but may regulate the cleavage and/or dissociation of MIS. This study describes a form of post-translational regulation of MIS and shows that both transcription and processing of MIS may be differentially modulated by gonadotropins and sex steroids.

Mullerian inhibiting substance ontogeny and its modulation by follicle-stimulating hormone in the rat testes

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:50pm

Mullerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS) production in rat testes from the late fetal to the adult period and its modulation by gonadotropins in neonatal testes were studied using immunohistochemistry, northern analysis, and a graded organ culture bioassay for MIS. The intense immunohistochemical staining for MIS seen in fetal and newborn testes began to decrease gradually after the third postnatal day, then decreased dramatically on the fifth postnatal day. MIS immunohistochemical activity was then present at a low level until about the 20th postnatal day, after which it was barely detectable. The testes from rats treated with FSH at birth showed a considerable drop in MIS immunohistochemical activity on the third postnatal day to 29% of control testes, and a less profound decrease on the second and fourth postnatal days to 46% and 61% of control, respectively; thereafter MIS levels were the same in treated and untreated animals. With shorter courses of FSH treatment, immunohistochemical staining showed less depression of MIS on the third day, and no difference by the fourth postnatal day, indicating that the inhibitory effect on testicular MIS production may require continued FSH exposure. Three-day testes that had been treated with FSH for 2-1/2 days had less MIS messenger RNA compared to control testes of the same age, suggesting that the inhibitory effect of FSH on MIS production could be transcriptionally mediated. In contrast LH treatment produced no difference in either messenger RNA expression or immunohistochemical staining for MIS. These findings suggested that FSH may be a modulator of MIS production in neonatal testes.

Serum adrenal steroid concentrations in premature infants

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:50pm

To evaluate serum adrenal steroid concentrations in preterm infants, 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP), 17-hydroxypregnenolone, 11-deoxycortisol, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, androstenedione, 18-hydroxycorticosterone, and aldosterone values were determined in 9 sick and 13 healthy premature infants. Serum steroid concentrations were compared to previously reported data from healthy full-term infants. 17-OHP, 11-deoxycortisol, and aldosterone values were higher in sick preterm infants than in healthy preterm infants. Compared to healthy full-term infants, the premature infants-had significantly higher 17-hydroxypregnenolone, 17-OHP, and DHEA sulfate concentrations. Cortisol values were not different between the sick and healthy preterm infants and were similar to full-term values. Aldosterone values were also similar between the premature and the full-term infants. The findings of elevated steroid precursors in preterm infants and low cortisol levels in stressed sick preterm infants may indicate a relative immaturity of adrenal enzyme activity and inadequate adrenal reserve for stress.

Alterations in the pulsatile mode of growth hormone release in men and women with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:50pm

The mechanisms responsible for the elevated levels of circulating GH observed in diabetes mellitus (DM) remain incompletely defined. To assess the episodic fluctuations in serum GH as a reflection of hypothalamic-pituitary activity, we accumulated GH concentration-time series in a total of 48 adult men and women with and without insulin-dependent DM by obtaining serum samples at 10-min intervals over 24 h. Significant pulses of GH release were subsequently identified and characterized by an objective, statistically based pulse detection algorithm (Cluster) and fixed circadian (24-h) periodicities of secretory activity, resolved using Fourier expansion timeseries analysis.

Compared to those in age-matched controls, integrated 24-h concentrations of GH were 2- to 3.5-fold higher in diabetic men (P = 0.002) and women (P = 0.0005). Both men and women with DM had over 50% more GH pulses per 24 h than their non- DM counterparts. In addition, maximal GH pulse amplitude was markedly elevated in the men and women with DM (P = 0.0019 and 0.0189, respectively). That the increase in maximal pulse amplitude was accounted for by greater baseline levels was documented by a higher interpulse valley mean GH concentration in the diabetics compared to the controls (P = 0.0437 and 0.0056, men and women, respectively) and the absence of any difference in incremental pulse amplitude for either sex (P > 0.05). DM men had larger GH pulse areas (P = 0.039) than control men, apparently accounted for by greater pulse width (P = 0.0037). Pulse areas in DM and non-DM women were indistinguishable. Time-series analysis revealed that the 24-h (circadian) rhythms of serum GH concentrations exhibited significantly increased amplitudes in the diabetic group as a whole (compared to the controls, P = 0.011). However, the times of maximal GH concentrations (acrophases) were not significantly different. As a group, serum insulin-like growth factor-I was lower in DM vs. non-DM individuals (P = 0.0014), although when separated by sex this difference did not reach statistical significance in women (P = 0.317).

The present data confirm the higher circulating levels of GH previously reported to occur in individuals with poorly controlled DM. The altered frequency of GH pulses together with enhanced interpulse GH concentrations and an amplified circadian GH rhythm are compatible with hypothalamic dysfunction associated with dysregulation of somatostatin and/or GHRH secretion. Since similar patterns in GH concentration-time series can be seen in non-DM men during fasting, a specific nutrient and/ or metabolic derangement rather than diabetes per semay contribute to this abnormality.

Campylobacter meningitis in childhood

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:50pm

Environmental and Infectious Causes of Malignancy

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:30am

This chapter in the Cancer Concepts textbook presents a summary of the most relevant causative agents of cancer. Exposure to many environmental agents is associated with an increased incidence of certain malignancies, although causation is usually difficult to prove. Certain chemicals, infections (parasitic, viral, and bacterial) and ionizing radiation are known carcinogens. Variable genetic susceptibility to carcinogenesis is apparent. Up to 2/3 of human cancers are believed to have an environmental component.

Cell biology of mRNA decay

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:53am

Studying single mRNA molecules has added new dimensions to our understanding of gene expression and the life cycle of mRNA in cells. Advances in microscopes and detection technology have opened access to single molecule research to most researchers interested in molecular biology. Here we provide an overview technique for single molecule studies of RNA in either fixed samples or in living cells. As part of a volume on mRNA turnover, it is increasingly relevant, because many of the recent advances in studies of mRNA turnover have suggested that there is non-homogeneous distribution of turnover factors in the cell. For this reason, understanding of spatial relationships between mRNA and mRNA turnover factors should enrich our understanding of this process.

Diffusion and binding properties investigated by Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS)

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:48am

During the last years, Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) has proven to be a powerful tool for basic research in many applications. The combination of a minimal detection volume in the femtoliter range coupled with very high sensitivity extends the possibilities to design sensitive homogeneous tests. In this article we illustrate the analysis of binding processes with FCS based on the changes in diffusion characteristics of GFP upon binding to an antibody. Problems induced by highly heterogeneous samples are discussed and differences of GFP binding to a monoclonal and a polyclonal antibody are shown and analyzed. We stress data processing, limitations and useful approximations in FCS methodology. Basic ideas of data acquisition and processing as well as new developments and applications are presented.

Nuclear transport of single molecules: dwell times at the nuclear pore complex

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:48am

The mechanism by which macromolecules are selectively translocated through the nuclear pore complex (NPC) is still essentially unresolved. Single molecule methods can provide unique information on topographic properties and kinetic processes of asynchronous supramolecular assemblies with excellent spatial and time resolution. Here, single-molecule far-field fluorescence microscopy was applied to the NPC of permeabilized cells. The nucleoporin Nup358 could be localized at a distance of 70 nm from POM121-GFP along the NPC axis. Binding sites of NTF2, the transport receptor of RanGDP, were observed in cytoplasmic filaments and central framework, but not nucleoplasmic filaments of the NPC. The dwell times of NTF2 and transportin 1 at their NPC binding sites were 5.8 +/- 0.2 and 7.1 +/- 0.2 ms, respectively. Notably, the dwell times of these receptors were reduced upon binding to a specific transport substrate, suggesting that translocation is accelerated for loaded receptor molecules. Together with the known transport rates, our data suggest that nucleocytoplasmic transport occurs via multiple parallel pathways within single NPCs.

Direct observation of single protein molecules in aqueous solution

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:48am

Single molecule tracking (SMT) by fluorescence video microscopy has matured to be a well established method in the last few years. In this report we demonstrate the imaging and tracking of single protein molecules in a phosphate/Hepes buffer with high sensitivity at frame rates of 350 Hz.

Intranuclear binding kinetics and mobility of single native U1 snRNP particles in living cells

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:48am

Uridine-rich small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (U snRNPs) are splicing factors, which are diffusely distributed in the nucleoplasm and also concentrated in nuclear speckles. Fluorescently labeled, native U1 snRNPs were microinjected into the cytoplasm of living HeLa cells. After nuclear import single U1 snRNPs could be visualized and tracked at a spatial precision of 30 nm at a frame rate of 200 Hz employing a custom-built microscope with single-molecule sensitivity. The single-particle tracks revealed that most U1 snRNPs were bound to specific intranuclear sites, many of those presumably representing pre-mRNA splicing sites. The dissociation kinetics from these sites showed a multiexponential decay behavior on time scales ranging from milliseconds to seconds, reflecting the involvement of U1 snRNPs in numerous distinct interactions. The average dwell times for U1 snRNPs bound at sites within the nucleoplasm did not differ significantly from those in speckles, indicating that similar processes occur in both compartments. Mobile U1 snRNPs moved with diffusion constants in the range from 0.5 to 8 microm2/s. These values were consistent with uncomplexed U1 snRNPs diffusing at a viscosity of 5 cPoise and U1 snRNPs moving in a largely restricted manner, and U1 snRNPs contained in large supramolecular assemblies such as spliceosomes or supraspliceosomes.

Single-molecule tracking in eukaryotic cell nuclei

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:48am

Visualization of single fluorescent molecules (single-molecule tracking, SMT) within cells provides a real-time molecular view of physiological processes in vivo.

Probing intranuclear environments at the single-molecule level

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:48am

Genome activity and nuclear metabolism clearly depend on accessibility, but it is not known whether and to what extent nuclear structures limit the mobility and access of individual molecules. We used fluorescently labeled streptavidin with a nuclear localization signal as an average-sized, inert protein to probe the nuclear environment. The protein was injected into the cytoplasm of mouse cells, and single molecules were tracked in the nucleus with high-speed fluorescence microscopy. We analyzed and compared the mobility of single streptavidin molecules in structurally and functionally distinct nuclear compartments of living cells. Our results indicated that all nuclear subcompartments were easily and similarly accessible for such an average-sized protein, and even condensed heterochromatin neither excluded single molecules nor impeded their passage. The only significant difference was a higher frequency of transient trappings in heterochromatin, which lasted only tens of milliseconds. The streptavidin molecules, however, did not accumulate in heterochromatin, suggesting comparatively less free volume. Interestingly, the nucleolus seemed to exclude streptavidin, as it did many other nuclear proteins, when visualized by conventional fluorescence microscopy. The tracking of single molecules, nonetheless, showed no evidence for repulsion at the border but relatively unimpeded passage through the nucleolus. These results clearly show that single-molecule tracking can provide novel insights into mobility of proteins in the nucleus that cannot be obtained by conventional fluorescence microscopy. Our results suggest that nuclear processes may not be regulated at the level of physical accessibility but rather by local concentration of reactants and availability of binding sites.

Autonomy and robustness of translocation through the nuclear pore complex: a single-molecule study

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:47am

All molecular traffic between nucleus and cytoplasm occurs via the nuclear pore complex (NPC) within the nuclear envelope. In this study we analyzed the interactions of the nuclear transport receptors kapalpha2, kapbeta1, kapbeta1DeltaN44, and kapbeta2, and the model transport substrate, BSA-NLS, with NPCs to determine binding sites and kinetics using single-molecule microscopy in living cells. Recombinant transport receptors and BSA-NLS were fluorescently labeled by AlexaFluor 488, and microinjected into the cytoplasm of living HeLa cells expressing POM121-GFP as a nuclear pore marker. After bleaching the dominant GFP fluorescence the interactions of the microinjected molecules could be studied using video microscopy with a time resolution of 5 ms, achieving a colocalization precision of 30 nm. These measurements allowed defining the interaction sites with the NPCs with an unprecedented precision, and the comparison of the interaction kinetics with previous in vitro measurements revealed new insights into the translocation mechanism.

Conversion of red fluorescent protein into a bright blue probe

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:47am

We used a red chromophore formation pathway, in which the anionic red chromophore is formed from the neutral blue intermediate, to suggest a rational design strategy to develop blue fluorescent proteins with a tyrosine-based chromophore. The strategy was applied to red fluorescent proteins of the different genetic backgrounds, such as TagRFP, mCherry, HcRed1, M355NA, and mKeima, which all were converted into blue probes. Further improvement of the blue variant of TagRFP by random mutagenesis resulted in an enhanced monomeric protein, mTagBFP, characterized by the substantially higher brightness, the faster chromophore maturation, and the higher pH stability than blue fluorescent proteins with a histidine in the chromophore. The detailed biochemical and photochemical analysis indicates that mTagBFP is the true monomeric protein tag for multicolor and lifetime imaging, as well as the outstanding donor for green fluorescent proteins in Forster resonance energy transfer applications.

Calibrating excitation light fluxes for quantitative light microscopy in cell biology

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 9:47am

Power output of light bulbs changes over time and the total energy delivered will depend on the optical beam path of the microscope, filter sets and objectives used, thus making comparison between experiments performed on different microscopes complicated. Using a thermocoupled power meter, it is possible to measure the exact amount of light applied to a specimen in fluorescence microscopy, regardless of the light source, as the light power measured can be translated into a power density at the sample. This widely used and simple tool forms the basis of a new degree of calibration precision and comparability of results among experiments and setups. Here we describe an easy-to-follow protocol that allows researchers to precisely estimate excitation intensities in the object plane, using commercially available opto-mechanical components. The total duration of this protocol for one objective and six filter cubes is 75 min including start-up time for the lamp.