[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tone of vascular smooth muscle cells is a primary determinant of the total peripheral vascular resistance and hence the arterial blood pressure. Most forms of hypertension ultimately result from an increased vascular tone that leads to an elevated total peripheral resistance. Regulation of vascular resistance under normotensive and hypertensive conditions involves multiple mediators, many of which act through G protein-coupled receptors on vascular smooth muscle cells. Receptors that mediate vasoconstriction couple with the G-proteins G(q)-G11 and G12-G13 to stimulate phosphorylation of myosin light chain (MLC) via the Ca2+/MLC kinase- and Rho/Rho kinase-mediated signaling pathways, respectively. Using genetically altered mouse models that allow for the acute abrogation of both signaling pathways by inducible Cre/loxP-mediated mutagenesis in smooth muscle cells, we show that G(q)-G11-mediated signaling in smooth muscle cells is required for maintenance of basal blood pressure and for the development of salt-induced hypertension. In contrast, lack of G12-G13, as well as of their major effector, the leukemia-associated Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor (LARG), did not alter normal blood pressure regulation but did block the development of salt-induced hypertension. This identifies the G12-G13-LARG-mediated signaling pathway as a new target for antihypertensive therapies that would be expected to leave normal blood pressure regulation unaffected.
Nature medicine 02/2008; 14(1):64-8. · 27.14 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TRAIL is a promising anticancer agent due to its ability to selectively induce apoptosis in established tumor cell lines but not nontransformed cells. Herein, we demonstrate a role for the apoptosis-inducing TRAIL receptor (TRAIL-R) as a metastasis suppressor. Although mouse models employing tumor transplantation have shown that TRAIL can reduce tumor growth, autochthonous tumor models have generated conflicting results with respect to the physiological role of the TRAIL system during tumorigenesis. We used a multistage model of squamous cell carcinoma to examine the role of TRAIL-R throughout all steps of tumor development. DMBA/TPA-treated TRAIL-R-deficient mice showed neither an increase in number or growth rate of benign papillomas nor an increase in the rate of progression to squamous cell carcinoma. However, metastasis to lymph nodes was significantly enhanced, indicating a role for TRAIL-R specifically in the suppression of metastasis. We also found that adherent TRAIL-R-expressing skin carcinoma cells were TRAIL resistant in vitro but were sensitized to TRAIL upon detachment by inactivation of the ERK signaling pathway. As detachment from the primary tumor is an obligatory step in metastasis, this provides a possible mechanism by which TRAIL-R could inhibit metastasis. Hence, treatment of cancer patients with agonists of the apoptosis-inducing receptors for TRAIL may prove useful in reducing the incidence of metastasis.
Journal of Clinical Investigation 02/2008; 118(1):100-10. · 12.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During embryogenesis, tailless, an orphan member of the nuclear receptor family, is expressed in the germinal zones of the brain and the developing retina, and is involved in regulating the cell cycle of progenitor cells. Consequently, a deletion of the tailless gene leads to decreased cell number with associated anatomical defects in the limbic system, the cortex and the eye. These structural abnormalities are associated with blindness, increased aggressiveness, poor performance in learning paradigms and reduced anxiousness. In order to assess the contribution of blindness to the behavioural changes, we established tailless mutant mice with intact visual abilities. We generated a mouse line in which the second exon of the tailless gene is flanked by loxP sites and crossed these animals with a transgenic line expressing the Cre recombinase in the neurogenic area of the developing brain, but not in the eye. The resulting animals have anatomically indistinguishable brains compared with tailless germline mutants, but are not blind. They are less anxious and much more aggressive than controls, like tailless germline mutants. In contrast to germline mutants, the conditional mutants are not impaired in fear conditioning. Furthermore, they show good performance in the Morris water-maze despite severely reduced hippocampal structures. Thus, the pathological aggressiveness and reduced anxiety found in tailless germline mutants are due to malformations caused by inactivation of the tailless gene in the brain, but the poor performance of tailless null mice in learning and memory paradigms is dependent on the associated blindness.
European Journal of Neuroscience 11/2007; 26(8):2222-7. · 3.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The function of the adult thyroid is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which acts through a G protein-coupled receptor. Overactivation of the TSH receptor results in hyperthyroidism and goiter. The Gs-mediated stimulation of adenylyl cyclase-dependent cAMP formation has been regarded as the principal intracellular signaling mechanism mediating the action of TSH. Here we show that the Gq/G11-mediated signaling pathway plays an unexpected and essential role in the regulation of thyroid function. Mice lacking the alpha subunits of Gq and G11 specifically in thyroid epithelial cells showed severely reduced iodine organification and thyroid hormone secretion in response to TSH, and many developed hypothyroidism within months after birth. In addition, thyrocyte-specific Galphaq/Galpha11-deficient mice lacked the normal proliferative thyroid response to TSH or goitrogenic diet, indicating an essential role of this pathway in the adaptive growth of the thyroid gland. Our data suggest that Gq/G11 and their downstream effectors are promising targets to interfere with increased thyroid function and growth.
Journal of Clinical Investigation 10/2007; 117(9):2399-407. · 12.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanisms through which estrogen regulates gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons to control mammalian ovulation are unknown. We found that estrogen positive feedback to generate the preovulatory gonadotropin surge was normal in estrogen receptor beta knockout (ERbeta) mutant mice, but absent in ERalpha mutant mice. An ERalpha-selective compound was sufficient to generate positive feedback in wild-type mice. As GnRH neurons do not express ERalpha, estrogen positive feedback upon GnRH neurons must be indirect in nature. To establish the cell type responsible, we generated a neuron-specific ERalpha mutant mouse line. These mice failed to exhibit estrogen positive feedback, demonstrating that neurons expressing ERalpha are critical. We then used a GnRH neuron-specific Pseudorabies virus (PRV) tracing approach to show that the ERalpha-expressing neurons innervating GnRH neurons are located within rostral periventricular regions of the hypothalamus. These studies demonstrate that ovulation is driven by estrogen actions upon ERalpha-expressing neuronal afferents to GnRH neurons.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: dickkopf (dkk) genes encode a small family of secreted Wnt antagonists, except for dkk3, which is divergent and whose function is poorly understood. Here, we describe the generation and characterization of dkk3 mutant mice. dkk3-deficient mice are viable and fertile. Phenotypic analysis shows no major alterations in organ morphology, physiology, and most clinical chemistry parameters. Since Dkk3 was proposed to function as thyroid hormone binding protein, we have analyzed deiodinase activities, as well as thyroid hormone levels. Mutant mice are euthyroid, and the data do not support a relationship of dkk3 with thyroid hormone metabolism. Altered phenotypes in dkk3 mutant mice were observed in the frequency of NK cells, immunoglobulin M, hemoglobin, and hematocrit levels, as well as lung ventilation. Furthermore, dkk3-deficient mice display hyperactivity.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 04/2006; 26(6):2317-26. · 5.37 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids have been shown to influence mammary gland function in vivo and to stimulate milk protein gene expression in vitro. Here, we describe the generation and analysis of a mouse model to study glucocorticoid receptor (GR, NR3C1) function in mammary epithelial cells. Using the Cre-loxP system, mutant mice were obtained in which the GR gene is specifically deleted in epithelial cells during lobuloalveolar development, leading to a complete loss of epithelial GR at the onset of lactation. Mice harboring the mammary-epithelial-specific GR mutation are able to nurse their litters until weaning. During pregnancy, however, GR deficiency delays lobuloalveolar development, leading to an incomplete epithelial penetration of the mammary fat pad that persists throughout lactation. We identified a reduced cell proliferation during lobuloalveolar development as reason for this delay. This reduction is compensated for by increased epithelial proliferation after parturition in the mutant glands. During lactation, GR-deficient mammary epithelium is capable of milk production and secretion. The expression of two milk proteins, namely whey acidic protein and beta-casein, during lactation was not critically affected in the absence of GR. We conclude that GR function is not essential for alveolar differentiation and milk production, but influences cell proliferation during lobuloalveolar development.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Corticosteroid hormones regulate a variety of developmental, physiological and pathological processes via their cognate receptors, the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). Using modern genetic technologies, including bacterial artificial chromosome-based transgenesis and conditional gene targeting, we have generated a panel of tissue-specific and function-selective mutations of the two corticosteroid hormone receptors in the mouse. These mouse models have allowed us to gain new insights into corticosteroid hormone signaling in vivo. By investigating a hepatocyte-specific GR mutation, it has been possible to define a novel biological action of GR, namely to function as a coactivator for Stat5-mediated gene transcription in the control of body growth. The investigation of brain-specific mutations have not only allowed us to better understand hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation by glucocorticoids, but also to analyse corticosteroid action in various aspects of brain function like anxiety-related or addiction-related behaviour, and learning and memory. A function-selective mutation in the GR has allowed us to dissect different pathways in the gene expression regulation by this receptor, namely to separate DNA response element-binding dependent gene activation from response element-independent gene regulation via interference with other transcription factors. These different transcriptional activities of GR play an important role in glucocorticoid-mediated immunosuppression.
The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 03/2005; 93(2-5):107-12. · 3.98 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent generation of genetically modified Creb1 mutant mice has revealed an important role for CREB (cAMP responsive element binding protein) and the related proteins CREM (cAMP responsive element modulator) and ATF1 (activating transcription factor 1) in cell survival, in agreement with previous studies using overexpression of dominant-negative CREB (dnCREB). CREB and ATF1 are abundantly expressed in T cells and are rapidly activated by phosphorylation when T cells are stimulated through the T cell antigen receptor. We show that T cell-specific loss of CREB in mice, in combination with the loss of ATF1, results in reduced thymic cellularity and delayed thymic recovery following sublethal irradiation but no changes in T cell development or activation. These data show that loss of CREB function has specific effects on thymic T lymphocyte proliferation and homeostasis in vivo.
European Journal of Immunology 08/2004; 34(7):1961-71. · 4.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional genomic technologies, including artificial chromosome-based transgenesis and conditional gene targeting, allowed us to generate mouse models harboring genes with loss-of-function mutations, gain-of-function mutations, spatially and/or temporally restricted mutations, tissue-specific mutations, and function-selective mutations. This kind of "allelic series" for corticosteroid receptors in mouse models provides a very useful resource for the molecular understanding of corticosteroid function in vivo. These models will also support the identification of steroid receptor target genes in order to define a steroid signaling cascade in molecular terms. They provide opportunities for the identification of compounds that regulate steroid receptors in a tissue-specific and function-selective manner. For example, selective glucocorticoid receptor modulators preventing receptor dimerization and DNA binding can be expected to reduce osteoporotic and/or diabetogenic side effects, but to display partial or full anti-inflammatory potential. Thus, these mouse models will help to evaluate distinct steroid receptor functions for therapeutic intervention.
Hormone and Metabolic Research 07/2004; 36(6):387-91. · 2.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe the generation of transgenic mouse lines expressing Cre recombinase in epithelial cells of the lactating mammary gland. As an expression vector, we used a P1-derived bacterial artificial chromosome (PAC) which harbors the gene for the secretory milk protein, whey acidic protein (Wap). Using homologous recombination in E. coli, the PAC was modified to carry the improved coding sequence of Cre recombinase (iCre). Transgenic lines carrying the WAPiCre PAC express Cre recombinase efficiently in the majority of mammary epithelial cells upon lactation. Of only four transgenic lines produced, three express Cre recombinase to a high efficiency. LoxP-flanked DNA sequences are recombined in virtually all epithelial cells of WAPiCre transgenic mice at lactation day 3.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe the generation of transgenic mouse lines expressing the Cre recombinase enzyme in brain under control of the CamKIIalpha gene present in a BAC expression vector. The CamKIIalpha BAC transgene gave a faithful expression pattern resembling the pattern of the endogenous CamKIIalpha gene. Specifically, high levels of CamKIIalpha Cre were detected in hippocampus, cortex, and amygdala, and lower levels were detected in striatum, thalamus, and hypothalamus. As expected, no expression was detected in the cerebellum or outside of the brain. The expression level of the BAC CamKIIalpha driven Cre was shown to be copy number dependent. To test the activity of the Cre recombinase, the transgenic mice were crossed with mice harbouring the CREB (cAMP response element binding protein) allele with the 10th exon flanked by two loxP sites, and recombination was monitored by the disappearance of the CREB protein. Finally, evaluation of the developmental postnatal expression of the CamKIIalpha Cre BAC revealed the expression of the Cre recombinase as early as P3.