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      Activin B can signal through both ALK4 and ALK7 in gonadotrope cells


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          Activins stimulate pituitary FSH synthesis via transcriptional regulation of the FSHbeta subunit gene (Fshb). Like other members of the TGFbeta superfamily, these ligands signal through complexes of type I and type II receptor serine/threonine kinases. The type I receptors, or activin receptor-like kinases (ALKs), propagate intracellular signals upon ligand binding and phosphorylation by associated type II receptors. ALK4 is generally regarded as the type I receptor for activins; however, recent data suggested that activin B and AB might also signal through ALK7. Here, we examined a role for ALK7 in activin B-regulated Fshb transcription.


          We analyzed ALK7 mRNA expression in immortalized gonadotrope cells, LbetaT2, and adult murine pituitary by RT-PCR. We next transfected LbetaT2 cells with wild-type and kinase-deficient (Lys to Arg, KR) forms of ALK4 and ALK7 and examined the effects of these receptors on activin A and B stimulated Fshb promoter-reporter activity. Cells were also transfected with constitutively active (Thr to Asp, TD) forms of the receptors and their effects on endogenous Fshb mRNA levels and phosphorylation of transfected Smad2/3 were measured by RT-PCR and Western blot, respectively. Finally, we measured ALK4(TD) and ALK7(TD) stimulation of Fshb transcription when endogenous Smad3 levels were depleted using short hairpin RNAs.


          ALK7 mRNA was expressed in LbetaT2 cells and pituitary gland. Transfection of ALK4 cDNA potentiated the effects of both activin A and activin B on Fshb promoter-reporter activity in LbetaT2 cells. In contrast, ALK7 transfection selectively potentiated activin B's effects. Transfection of ALK4(KR) and ALK7(KR) partly inhibited basal and activin B-stimulated reporter activity, whereas ALK4(TD) and ALK7(TD) potently stimulated the Fshb promoter and endogenous mRNA levels. Transfection of both ALK4(TD) and ALK7(TD) stimulated Smad2/3 phosphorylation, and the effects of both receptors on Fshb promoter activity were inhibited by depletion of endogenous Smad3 protein levels.


          These data suggest that immortalized gonadotropes express ALK7 and that activin B can signal through this receptor to stimulate Fshb transcription. The relative roles of endogenous ALK4 and ALK7 receptors in mediating activin B's effects in these cells have yet to be determined.

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          Most cited references36

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          Activin receptor-like kinase (ALK)1 is an antagonistic mediator of lateral TGFbeta/ALK5 signaling.

          Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta) regulates the activation state of the endothelium via two opposing type I receptor/Smad pathways. Activin receptor-like kinase-1 (ALK1) induces Smad1/5 phosphorylation, leading to an increase in endothelial cell proliferation and migration, while ALK5 promotes Smad2/3 activation and inhibits both processes. Here, we report that ALK5 is important for TGFbeta/ALK1 signaling; endothelial cells lacking ALK5 are deficient in TGFbeta/ALK1-induced responses. More specifically, we show that ALK5 mediates a TGFbeta-dependent recruitment of ALK1 into a TGFbeta receptor complex and that the ALK5 kinase activity is required for optimal ALK1 activation. TGFbeta type II receptor is also required for ALK1 activation by TGFbeta. Interestingly, ALK1 not only induces a biological response opposite to that of ALK5 but also directly antagonizes ALK5/Smad signaling.
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            Pituitary FSH is released by a heterodimer of the beta-subunits from the two forms of inhibin.

            Inhibin is a gonadal protein that specifically inhibits the secretion of pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Two forms of inhibin (A and B) have been purified from porcine follicular fluid and characterized as heterodimers of relative molecular mass (Mr) 32,000 (ref. 2). Each inhibin is comprised of an identical alpha-subunit of Mr 18,000 and a distinct but related beta-subunit of Mr 13,800-14,700 linked by interchain disulphide bond(s). Throughout the purification of inhibins, we consistently observed two fractions which stimulated the secretion of pituitary FSH. We report here the isolation of one of the FSH-releasing proteins; it has a Mr of 24,000 and its N-terminal sequences up to residue 32 are identical to those of each beta-subunit of inhibins A and B. In the presence of reducing agents, SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis resolves the FSH-releasing substance into two subunits which are identical in their migration behaviour to the reduced beta-subunits of inhibins A and B. Based on the N-terminal sequence data and Mr of the intact and reduced molecules, we propose that the FSH-releasing substance, which is active in picomolar concentrations, is a heterodimeric protein composed of the two beta-subunits of inhibins A and B linked by interchain disulphide bond(s). The structural organization of the FSH-releasing substance is homologous to that of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), which also possesses FSH-releasing activity in the same bioassay. We suggest that the substance be called activin to signify the fact that it has opposite biological effects to inhibin.
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              Purification and characterization of an FSH releasing protein from porcine ovarian follicular fluid.

              A variety of hypophysiotropic peptides or proteins have been reported to be present in mammalian gonads. Inhibin, a hormone that under most circumstances selectively suppresses the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) but not luteinizing hormone (LH), has been isolated from the gonadal fluids of several species and characterized as a heterodimeric protein consisting of alpha- and beta-polypeptides associated by disulphide bonds. The complete amino-acid sequences of the precursors of porcine and human inhibin alpha-subunits and two distinct porcine inhibin beta-subunits (beta A and beta B) have been deduced from complementary DNA sequences. Gonadotropin releasing peptides have also been found in the gonad and have generally been shown to be active in radioreceptor assays for gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) but to exhibit different chromatographic and immunological characteristics from those of GnRH. During our purification of inhibin from porcine follicular fluid, we noted fractions that could stimulate the secretion of FSH by cultured anterior pituitary cells. We report here the purification of an FSH releasing protein (FRP) and its characterization by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under non-reducing and reducing conditions and by partial sequence analysis. Our results indicate that porcine gonadal FRP is a homodimer consisting of two inhibin beta A-chains linked by disulphide bonds. FRP is highly potent (50% effective concentration (EC50) approximately 25 pM) in stimulating the secretion and biosynthesis of FSH but not of LH or any other pituitary hormone. In contrast to the effects of GnRH and other reported gonadal gonadotropin releasing fractions, the action of FRP is not mediated by GnRH receptors.

                Author and article information

                Reprod Biol Endocrinol
                Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology
                BioMed Central (London )
                13 October 2006
                : 4
                : 52
                [1 ]Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council and The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Ave., New York, NY 10021, USA
                [2 ]Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montréal, Québec H3G 1Y6, Canada
                Copyright © 2006 Bernard et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 19 August 2006
                : 13 October 2006

                Human biology
                Human biology


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