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1.  Novel mutations in natriuretic peptide receptor-2 gene underlie acromesomelic dysplasia, type maroteaux 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:44.
Natriuretic peptides (NPs) are peptide hormones that exert their biological actions by binding to three types of cell surface natriuretic peptide receptors (NPRs). The receptor NPR-B binding C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) acts locally as a paracrine and/or autocrine regulator in a wide variety of tissues. Mutations in the gene NPR2 have been shown to cause acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux (AMDM), an autosomal recessive skeletal disproportionate dwarfism disorder in humans.
In the study, presented here, genotyping of six consanguineous families of Pakistani origin with AMDM was carried out using polymorphic microsatellite markers, which are closely linked to the gene NPR2 on chromosome 9p21-p12. To screen for mutations in the gene NPR2, all of its coding exons and splice junction sites were PCR amplified from genomic DNA of affected and unaffected individuals of the families and sequenced.
Sequence analysis of the gene NPR2 identified a novel missence mutation (p.T907M) in five families, and a splice donor site mutation c.2986 + 2 T > G in the other family.
We have described two novel mutations in the gene NPR2. The presence of the same mutation (p.T907M) and haplotype in five families (A, B, C, D, E) is suggestive of a founder effect.
PMCID: PMC3458994  PMID: 22691581
Acromesomelic dysplasia-type Maroteaux; gene NPR2; missence mutation (T907M); splice site mutation c.2986 + 2 T > G
2.  A novel loss-of-function mutation in Npr2 clarifies primary role in female reproduction and reveals a potential therapy for acromesomelic dysplasia, Maroteaux type 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(2):345-357.
We discovered a new spontaneous mutant allele of Npr2 named peewee (pwe) that exhibits severe disproportionate dwarfism and female infertility. The pwe phenotype is caused by a four base-pair deletion in exon 3 that generates a premature stop codon at codon 313 (L313X). The Npr2pwe/pwe mouse is a model for the human skeletal dysplasia acromesomelic dysplasia, Maroteaux type (AMDM). We conducted a thorough analysis of the female reproductive tract and report that the primary cause of Npr2pwe/pwe female infertility is premature oocyte meiotic resumption, while the pituitary and uterus appear to be normal. Npr2 is expressed in chondrocytes and osteoblasts. We determined that the loss of Npr2 causes a reduction in the hypertrophic and proliferative zones of the growth plate, but mineralization of skeletal elements is normal. Mutant tibiae have increased levels of the activated form of ERK1/2, consistent with the idea that natriuretic peptide receptor type 2 (NPR2) signaling inhibits the activation of the MEK/ERK mitogen activated protein kinase pathway. Treatment of fetal tibiae explants with mitogen activated protein kinase 1 and 2 inhibitors U0126 and PD325901 rescues the Npr2pwe/pwe growth defect, providing a promising foundation for skeletal dysplasia therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC4817088  PMID: 23065701
3.  Heterozygous mutations in natriuretic peptide receptor-B (NPR2) gene as a cause of short stature 
Human mutation  2015;36(4):474-481.
Based on the observation of reduced stature in relatives of patients with acromesomelic dysplasia, Maroteaux type (AMDM), caused by homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations in natriuretic peptide receptor-B gene (NPR2), it has been suggested that heterozygous mutations in this gene could be responsible for the growth impairment observed in some cases of idiopathic short stature (ISS). We enrolled 192 unrelated patients with short stature and 192 controls of normal height and identified seven heterozygous NPR2 missense or splice site mutations all in the short stature patients, including one de novo splice site variant. Three of the six inherited variants segregated with short stature in the family. Nine additional rare nonsynonymous NPR2 variants were found in three additional cohorts. Functional studies identified eight loss-of-function mutations in short individuals and one gain-of-function mutation in tall individuals. With these data we were able to rigorously verify that NPR2 functional haploinsufficiency contributes to short stature. We estimate a prevalence of NPR2 haploinsufficiency of between 0 and 1/26 in people with idiopathic short stature. We suggest that NPR2 gain of function may be a more common cause of tall stature than previously recognized.
PMCID: PMC4382411  PMID: 25703509
Natriuretic peptide receptor-B; NPR2; short stature; ISS
4.  Mice with an N-Ethyl-N-Nitrosourea (ENU) Induced Tyr209Asn Mutation in Natriuretic Peptide Receptor 3 (NPR3) Provide a Model for Kyphosis Associated with Activation of the MAPK Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(12):e0167916.
Non-syndromic kyphosis is a common disorder that is associated with significant morbidity and has a strong genetic involvement; however, the causative genes remain to be identified, as such studies are hampered by genetic heterogeneity, small families and various modes of inheritance. To overcome these limitations, we investigated 12 week old progeny of mice treated with the chemical mutagen N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) using phenotypic assessments including dysmorphology, radiography, and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. This identified a mouse with autosomal recessive kyphosis (KYLB). KYLB mice, when compared to unaffected littermates, had: thoraco-lumbar kyphosis, larger vertebrae, and increased body length and increased bone area. In addition, female KYLB mice had increases in bone mineral content and plasma alkaline phosphatase activity. Recombination mapping localized the Kylb locus to a 5.5Mb region on chromosome 15A1, which contained 51 genes, including the natriuretic peptide receptor 3 (Npr3) gene. DNA sequence analysis of Npr3 identified a missense mutation, Tyr209Asn, which introduced an N-linked glycosylation consensus sequence. Expression of wild-type NPR3 and the KYLB-associated Tyr209Asn NPR3 mutant in COS-7 cells demonstrated the mutant to be associated with abnormal N-linked glycosylation and retention in the endoplasmic reticulum that resulted in its absence from the plasma membrane. NPR3 is a decoy receptor for C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), which also binds to NPR2 and stimulates mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, thereby increasing the number and size of hypertrophic chondrocytes. Histomorphometric analysis of KYLB vertebrae and tibiae showed delayed endochondral ossification and expansion of the hypertrophic zones of the growth plates, and immunohistochemistry revealed increased p38 MAPK phosphorylation throughout the growth plates of KYLB vertebrae. Thus, we established a model of kyphosis due to a novel NPR3 mutation, in which loss of plasma membrane NPR3 expression results in increased MAPK pathway activation, causing elongation of the vertebrae and resulting in kyphosis.
PMCID: PMC5154531  PMID: 27959934
5.  Regulation and therapeutic targeting of peptide-activated receptor guanylyl cyclases 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2010;130(1):71-82.
Cyclic GMP is a ubiquitous second messenger that regulates a wide array of physiologic processes such as blood pressure, long bone growth, intestinal fluid secretion, phototransduction and lipolysis. Soluble and single-membrane-spanning enzymes called guanylyl cyclases (GC) synthesize cGMP. In humans, the latter group consists of GC-A, GC-B, GC-C, GC-E and GC-F, which are also known as NPR-A, NPR-B, StaR, Ret1-GC and Ret2-GC, respectively. Membrane GCs are activated by peptide ligands such as atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), guanylin, uroguanylin, heat stable enterotoxin and GC-activating proteins. Nesiritide and carperitide are clinically approved peptide-based drugs that activate GC-A. CD-NP is an experimental heart failure drug that primarily activates GC-B but also activates GC-A at high concentrations and is resistant to degradation. Inactivating mutations in GC-B cause acromesomelic dysplasia type Maroteaux dwarfism and chromosomal mutations that increase CNP concentrations are associated with Marfanoid-like skeletal overgrowth. Pump-based CNP infusions increase skeletal growth in a mouse model of the most common type of human dwarfism, which supports CNP/GC-B-based therapies for short stature diseases. Linaclotide is a peptide activator of GC-C that stimulates intestinal motility and is in late-stage clinical trials for the treatment of chronic constipation. This review discusses the discovery of cGMP, guanylyl cyclases, the general characteristics and therapeutic applications of GC-A, GC-B and GC-C, and emphasizes the regulation of transmembrane guanylyl cyclases by phosphorylation and ATP.
PMCID: PMC4856048  PMID: 21185863
Hypertension; Diarrhea; Vision; Heart failure; Glaucoma; cGMP
6.  The cn/cn dwarf mouse. Histomorphometric, ultrastructural, and radiographic study in mutants corresponding to human acromesomelic dysplasia Maroteaux type (AMDM) 
The cn/cn dwarf mouse is caused by a loss-of-function mutation in the natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (NPR-2) gene which helps positively regulate endochondral longitudinal bone growth. The gene mutation corresponds to that in the human skeletal dysplasia Acromesomelic Dysplasia Maroteaux type (AMDM). This study assesses histomorphometric, ultrastructural and radiographic correlates of the growth abnormality.
Ten litters of cn/cn and cn/+littermates at ages ranging from 2.5 to 6.5 weeks were studied by skeletal radiographs, histomorphometry and physeal ultrastructure. Skeletal radiographs were done on 2 cn/cn and 2 cn/+littermates at 5 weeks of age. Humeral, femoral, and tibial lengths were measured from 34 intact bones (17 cn/cn, 17 cn/+) at 2.5 to 6.5 weeks. Growth plate histomorphometry in 50 bones (26 cn/cn and 24 cn/+) determined the hypertrophic zone/entire physeal cartilage ratios in 204 sections (87 cn/+, 117 cn/cn) at 3 time periods (2.5-3, 4–4.5, and 6–6.5 weeks). Electron microscopy assessed 6 cn/cn and 6 cn/+age and site-matched physeal cartilage.
Cn/cn mice were two thirds the size of the cn/+. Cn/cn bones were normal in shape or only minimally deformed except for the radius with mid-diaphyseal bowing. Length ratios of cn/cn humeri, femurs, and tibias were a mean of 0.65 (±0.03, n = 34, 17 ratios) compared to cn/+bones. The main physeal abnormality was a markedly shortened hypertrophic zone with the ratio of hypertrophic zone to entire physis 0.17 (±0.063) in the cn/cn and 0.30 (±0.052) in the cn/+mice. Ratio assessments were similar comparing humeral, femoral, and tibial growth plates as were ratios from each of the 3 time periods. Ultrastructural assessments from the resting zone to the lower hypertrophic zone-metaphyseal junction showed no specific individual cell abnormalities in cn/cn compared to cn/+physes.
The disorder causes a shortened physeal hypertrophic zone but normal ultrastructure of cn/cn chondrocytes points to abnormality primarily affecting the hypertrophic zone rather than a structural cell or matrix synthesis problem.
PMCID: PMC4219045  PMID: 25319082
7.  Regulation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity thresholds and changes in exploratory and learning behavior in dominant negative NPR-B mutant rats 
The second messenger cyclic GMP affects synaptic transmission and modulates synaptic plasticity and certain types of learning and memory processes. The impact of the natriuretic peptide receptor B (NPR-B) and its ligand C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), one of several cGMP producing signaling systems, on hippocampal synaptic plasticity and learning is, however, less well understood. We have previously shown that the NPR-B ligand CNP increases the magnitude of long-term depression (LTD) in hippocampal area CA1, while reducing the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP). We have extended this line of research to show that bidirectional plasticity is affected in the opposite way in rats expressing a dominant-negative mutant of NPR-B (NSE-NPR-BΔKC) lacking the intracellular guanylyl cyclase domain under control of a promoter for neuron-specific enolase. The brain cells of these transgenic rats express functional dimers of the NPR-B receptor containing the dominant-negative NPR-BΔKC mutant, and therefore show decreased CNP-stimulated cGMP-production in brain membranes. The NPR-B transgenic rats display enhanced LTP but reduced LTD in hippocampal slices. When the frequency-dependence of synaptic modification to afferent stimulation in the range of 1–100 Hz was assessed in transgenic rats, the threshold for both, LTP and LTD induction, was shifted to lower frequencies. In parallel, NPR-BΔKC rats exhibited an enhancement in exploratory and learning behavior. These results indicate that bidirectional plasticity and learning and memory mechanism are affected in transgenic rats expressing a dominant-negative mutant of NPR-B. Our data substantiate the hypothesis that NPR-B-dependent cGMP signaling has a modulatory role for synaptic information storage and learning.
PMCID: PMC4249455  PMID: 25520616
cGMP; exploratory; hippocampus; LTP; LTD; metaplasticity; NPR-B; memory
8.  Reduced ability of C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) to activate natriuretic peptide receptor B (NPR-B) causes dwarfism in lbab−/− mice 
Peptides  2008;29(9):1575-1581.
C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) stimulates endochondrial ossification by activating the transmembrane guanylyl cyclase, natriuretic peptide receptor-B (NPR-B). Recently, a spontaneous autosomal recessive mutation that causes severe dwarfism in mice was identified. The mutant, called long bone abnormality (lbab), contains a single point mutation that converts an arginine to a glycine in a conserved coding region of the CNP gene, but how this mutation affects CNP activity has not been reported. Here, we determined that thirty to greater than one hundred-fold more CNPlbab was required to activate NPR-B as compared to wild-type CNP in whole cell cGMP elevation and membrane guanylyl cyclase assays. The reduced ability of CNPlbab to activate NPR-B was explained, at least in part, by decreased binding since ten-fold more CNPlbab than wild-type CNP was required to compete with [125I][Tyr0]CNP for receptor binding. Molecular modeling suggested that the conserved arginine is critical for binding to an equally conserved acidic pocket in NPR-B. These results indicate that reduced binding to and activation of NPR-B causes dwarfism in lbab−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC4429774  PMID: 18554750
Endochondrial ossification; Cyclic-GMP; Guanylyl cyclase B; Type II cGMP dependant protein kinase; Nppc
9.  An Overgrowth Disorder Associated with Excessive Production of cGMP Due to a Gain-of-Function Mutation of the Natriuretic Peptide Receptor 2 Gene 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42180.
We describe a three-generation family with tall stature, scoliosis and macrodactyly of the great toes and a heterozygous p.Val883Met mutation in Npr2, the gene that encodes the CNP receptor NPR2 (natriuretic peptide receptor 2). When expressed in HEK293A cells, the mutant Npr2 cDNA generated intracellular cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate) in the absence of CNP ligand. In the presence of CNP, cGMP production was greater in cells that had been transfected with the mutant Npr2 cDNA compared to wild-type cDNA. Transgenic mice in which the mutant Npr2 was expressed in chondrocytes driven by the promoter and intronic enhancer of the Col11a2 gene exhibited an enhanced production of cGMP in cartilage, leading to a similar phenotype to that observed in the patients. In addition, blood cGMP concentrations were elevated in the patients. These results indicate that p.Val883Met is a constitutive active gain-of-function mutation and elevated levels of cGMP in growth plates lead to the elongation of long bones. Our findings reveal a critical role for NPR2 in skeletal growth in both humans and mice, and may provide a potential target for prevention and treatment of diseases caused by impaired production of cGMP.
PMCID: PMC3411678  PMID: 22870295
10.  Novel analog of atrial natriuretic peptide selective for receptor-A produces increased diuresis and natriuresis in rats. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;98(4):969-976.
Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) binds to natriuretic peptide receptor-A (NPR-A), a membrane guanylyl cyclase, and to natriuretic peptide receptor-C (NPR-C), which plays a role in peptide clearance. Rat ANP (rANP) mutants that bind rat NPR-A selectively over rat NPR-C were isolated from randomized libraries of rANP-display phage by differential panning. One variant was identified with reduced NPR-C binding; rANP (G16R, A17E, Q18A) [rANP(REA18)]. Synthetic rANP(REA18) was equipotent with rANP in stimulating cGMP production from cloned rat NPR-A (ED50 = 1.8 nM) and was reduced in NPR-C binding by approximately 200-fold. When infused into conscious rats at 0.325 microg/min for 30 min rANP elicited an identical decrease in blood pressure compared with 0.25 microg/min of rANP(REA18), however the natriuretic (P < 0.05) and diuretic (P = 0.07) responses to rANP(REA18) were greater. These data are consistent with a role for NPR-C as a local decoy receptor attenuating NPR-A effects in the kidney, where these receptors are coexpressed. Improved NPR-A specificity could provide more effective natriuretic peptides for treatment of acute renal failure or heart failure.
PMCID: PMC507512  PMID: 8770869
11.  Exclusion of chromosome 9 helps to identify mild variants of acromesomelic dysplasia Maroteaux type 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2000;37(1):52-54.
Acromesomelic dysplasia Maroteaux type (AMDM) is an autosomal recessive disorder belonging to the group of acromesomelic dysplasias. AMDM is characterised by severe dwarfism with shortening of the middle and distal segments of the limbs. An AMDM gene has recently been mapped to human chromosome 9p13-q12 by homozygosity mapping in four consanguineous families. Here, we show linkage of the disease gene to chromosome 9p13-q12 in four of five consanguineous AMDM families and its exclusion in a fifth family with two children affected with a mild form of the disease. This study suggests that genetic heterogeneity accounts for the variable clinical and radiological severity of AMDM.

Keywords: acromesomelic dysplasia Maroteaux type; acromesomelic dysplasias; homozygosity mapping; chromosome 9
PMCID: PMC1734441  PMID: 10633136
12.  Hormonal Coordination of Natriuretic Peptide Type C and Natriuretic Peptide Receptor 3 Expression in Mouse Granulosa Cells1 
Biology of Reproduction  2012;88(2):42.
Natriuretic peptide type C (NPPC) and its receptor natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (NPR2) regulate cGMP in ovarian follicles and participate in maintaining oocyte meiotic arrest. We investigated the regulation of Nppc expression in mouse granulosa cells in vivo and in vitro. In mural granulosa cells (MGCs) in vivo, eCG caused an increase in Nppc mRNA, and subsequent human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) treatment caused a decrease. A culture system was established for MGCs isolated from follicles not stimulated with equine chorionic gonadotropin to further define the mechanisms controlling Nppc expression. In this system, expression of Nppc mRNA was increased by estradiol (E2), with augmentation by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), but FSH or luteinizing hormone (LH) alone had no effect. Thus, estrogens are important for regulating Nppc expression, probably by feedback mechanisms enhancing the action of gonadotropins. In MGCs treated with E2 plus FSH in vitro, subsequent treatment with EGF, but not LH, decreased Nppc mRNA. MGCs express higher levels of both Nppc and Lhcgr mRNAs than cumulus cells. Oocyte-derived paracrine factors suppressed cumulus cell Lhcgr but not Nppc expression. Thus, higher Nppc expression by MGCs is not the result of oocyte suppression of expression in cumulus cells. Another possible regulator of the LH-induced NPPC decrease is NPR3, an NPPC clearance receptor. Human chorionic gonadotropin increased Npr3 expression in vivo and LH increased Npr3 mRNA in cultured MGCs, independently of EGF receptor activation. Interestingly, despite the increase in Npr3 mRNA, the hCG-induced decrease in ovarian NPPC occurred normally in an Npr3 mutant (lgj), thus NPR3 probably does not participate in regulation of ovarian NPPC levels or oocyte development.
Expression of natriuretic peptide type C (NPPC) in mouse granulosa cells is regulated by estrogen, gonadotropins, and EGF, but ovarian NPPC peptide levels are unaffected by mutation of the NPR3 clearance receptor.
PMCID: PMC3589232  PMID: 23255339
epidermal growth factor; estradiol/estradiol receptor; estrogens; follicle-stimulating hormone; gonadotropins; granulosa cells; luteinizing hormone; natriuretic peptide receptor 3; natriuretic peptide type C
13.  Functional silencing of guanylyl cyclase/natriuretic peptide receptor-A by microRNA interference: analysis of receptor endocytosis 
Guanylyl cyclase/natriuretic peptide receptor-A (GC-A/NPRA) is the principal receptor for the regulatory action of atrial and brain natriuretic peptides (ANP and BNP) and an important effector molecule in controlling of extracellular fluid volume and blood pressure homeostasis. We have utilized RNA interference to silence the expression of GC-A/NPRA gene (Npr1), providing a novel system to study the internalization and trafficking of NPRA in intact cells. MicroRNA (miRNA)-mediated small interfering RNA (siRNA) elicited functional gene-knockdown of NPRA in stably transfected human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK-293) cells expressing a high density of recombinant NPRA. We artificially expressed three RNA polymerase II-driven miRNAs that specifically targeted the Npr1 gene, but shared no significant sequence homology with any other known mouse genes. Reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) and Northern blot analyses identified two highly efficient Npr1 miRNA sequences to knockdown the expression of NPRA. The Npr1 miRNA in chains or clusters decreased NPRA expression more than 90% as compared with control cells. ANP-dependent stimulation of intracellular accumulation of cGMP and guanylyl cyclase activity of NPRA were significantly reduced in Npr1 miRNA-expressing cells by 90-95% as compared with control cells. Treatment with Npr1 miRNA caused a drastic reduction in the receptor density subsequently a deceased internalization of radiolabeled 125I-ANP-NPRA ligand-receptor complexes. Only 12%-15% of receptor population was localized in the intracellular compartments of microRNA silenced cells as compared to 70%-80% in control cells.
PMCID: PMC3627067  PMID: 23638320
Atrial natriuretic peptide; guanylyl cyclase/natriuretic peptide receptor-A; gene-knockdown; receptor internalization; human embryonic kidney cells; microRNA
14.  Constitutively active form of natriuretic peptide receptor 2 ameliorates experimental pulmonary arterial hypertension 
We recently found a constitutively active mutant of natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (caNPR2; V883M), which synthesizes larger amounts of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) intracellularly without any ligand stimulation than existing drugs. The aim of this study was to investigate the therapeutic effects of gene transduction using caNPR2 for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). In vitro gene transduction into human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells using Sendai virus (SeV) vectors carrying caNPR2 induced 10,000-fold increases in the synthesis of cGMP without ligand stimulation, and the proliferation of caNPR2-expressing cells was significantly attenuated. The PAH model rats generated by hypoxia and the administration of SU5416 were then treated with SeV vectors through a direct injection into the left pulmonary artery. Right ventricular systolic pressure was significantly decreased 2 weeks after the treatment, while systemic blood pressure remained unchanged. Histological analyses revealed that the medial wall thickness and occlusion rate of pulmonary arterioles were significantly improved in caNPR2-treated lungs. Neither the systemic integration of virus vectors nor side effects were observed. The massive stimulation of cGMP synthesis by gene therapy with caNPR2 was safe and effective in a PAH rat model and, thus, has potential as a novel therapy for patients with severe progressive PAH.
PMCID: PMC4934588  PMID: 27419193
Hypertension  2009;54(1):172-178.
The objective of the present study was to gain insight into the cooperative role of Ets-1 and p300 in transcriptional regulation and expression of Npr1 gene (coding for guanylyl cyclase-A/natriuretic peptide receptor-A; GC-A/NPRA). Overexpression of Ets-1 and p300 in mouse mesangial cells (MMCs) increased Npr1 promoter activity by 12-fold, NPRA mRNA levels by 5-fold, and ANP-dependent intracellular accumulation of cGMP by 26-fold. Knockdown of Ets-1 and p300 expression by small interfering RNA (siRNA) inhibited Npr1 gene transcription by 90%. Sequential chromatin immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated a direct physical association between p300 and Ets-1 upon binding to Npr1 promoter, suggesting that a physical interaction between Ets-1 and p300 is important to enhance Npr1 gene transcription. Mutant p300 lacking histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activity did not show functional effect with Ets-1, suggesting that HAT activity of p300 is required for the cooperative interaction in modulating Npr1 gene transcription. Overexpression of wild-type adenovirus E1A significantly decreased the Npr1 promoter activity by 40%, whereas mutant E1A, which is incapable of binding to p300, did not show any effect. The results indicate that Npr1 gene transcription is critically controlled by histone acetyltransferase p300 and Ets-1. The present findings should yield important insights into the molecular signaling governing Npr1 gene transcription, an important regulator in the control of hypertension and cardiovascular events.
PMCID: PMC3085902  PMID: 19487584
Atrial natriuretic peptide; guanylyl cyclase-A/natriuretic peptide receptor-A; gene transcription; gene expression; histone acetyltransferase
16.  In vitro and in vivo pharmacological profile of PL-3994, a novel cyclic peptide (Hept-cyclo(Cys-His-Phe-d-Ala-Gly-Arg-d-Nle-Asp-Arg-Ile-Ser-Cys)-Tyr-[Arg mimetic]-NH2) natriuretic peptide receptor-A agonist that is resistant to neutral endopeptidase and acts as a bronchodilator 
The pharmacological and airways relaxant profiles of PL-3994 (Hept-cyclo(Cys-His-Phe-d-Ala-Gly-Arg-dNle-Asp-Arg-Ile-Ser-Cys)-Tyr-[Arg mimetic]-NH2), a novel natriuretic peptide receptor-A (NPR-A) agonist, were evaluated. PL-3994, a full agonist, has high affinity for recombinant human (h), dog, or rat NPR-As (Kis of 1, 41, and 10 nm, respectively), and produced concentration-dependent cGMP generation in human, dog and rat NPR-As (respective EC50s of 2, 3 and 14 nm). PL-3994 has a Ki of 7 nm for hNPR-C but was without effect on cGMP generation in hNPR-B. PL-3994 (1 µm) was without significant effect against 75 diverse molecular targets. PL-3994 or BNP, a natural NPR ligand, produced concentration-dependent relaxation of pre-contracted guinea-pig trachea (IC50s of 42.7 and 10.7 nm, respectively). PL-3994, and also BNP, (0.1 nm–100 µm) elicited a potent, concentration-dependent but small relaxation of pre-contracted human precision-cut lung slices (hPCLS). Intratracheal PL-3994 (1–1000 µg/kg) produced a dose-dependent inhibition of the bronchoconstrictor response evoked by aerosolized methacholine, but was without significant effect on cardiovascular parameters. PL-3994 was resistant to degradation by human neutral endopeptidase (hNEP) (92% remaining after 2 h), whereas the natural ligands, ANP and CNP, were rapidly metabolized (≤1% remaining after 2 h). PL-3994 is a potent, selective NPR agonist, resistant to NEP, with relaxant effects in guinea-pig and human airway smooth muscle systems. PL-3994 has the profile predictive of longer clinical bronchodilator activity than observed previously with ANP, and suggests its potential utility in the treatment of asthma, in addition to being a useful research tool to evaluate NPR biology.
PMCID: PMC4070431  PMID: 23154072
PL-3994; Natriuretic peptide receptors; Atrial natriuretic peptide; Brain natriuretic peptide; Neutral endopeptidase sensitivity; Bronchodilator
17.  Mutation of Npr2 Leads to Blurred Tonotopic Organization of Central Auditory Circuits in Mice 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004823.
Tonotopy is a fundamental organizational feature of the auditory system. Sounds are encoded by the spatial and temporal patterns of electrical activity in spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) and are transmitted via tonotopically ordered processes from the cochlea through the eighth nerve to the cochlear nuclei. Upon reaching the brainstem, SGN axons bifurcate in a stereotyped pattern, innervating target neurons in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (aVCN) with one branch and in the posteroventral and dorsal cochlear nuclei (pVCN and DCN) with the other. Each branch is tonotopically organized, thereby distributing acoustic information systematically along multiple parallel pathways for processing in the brainstem. In mice with a mutation in the receptor guanylyl cyclase Npr2, this spatial organization is disrupted. Peripheral SGN processes appear normal, but central SGN processes fail to bifurcate and are disorganized as they exit the auditory nerve. Within the cochlear nuclei, the tonotopic organization of the SGN terminal arbors is blurred and the aVCN is underinnervated with a reduced convergence of SGN inputs onto target neurons. The tonotopy of circuitry within the cochlear nuclei is also degraded, as revealed by changes in the topographic mapping of tuberculoventral cell projections from DCN to VCN. Nonetheless, Npr2 mutant SGN axons are able to transmit acoustic information with normal sensitivity and timing, as revealed by auditory brainstem responses and electrophysiological recordings from VCN neurons. Although most features of signal transmission are normal, intermittent failures were observed in responses to trains of shocks, likely due to a failure in action potential conduction at branch points in Npr2 mutant afferent fibers. Our results show that Npr2 is necessary for the precise spatial organization typical of central auditory circuits, but that signals are still transmitted with normal timing, and that mutant mice can hear even with these deficits.
Author Summary
Millions of people suffer from debilitating hearing defects, ranging from a complete inability to detect sound to more subtle changes in how sounds are encoded by the nervous system. Many forms of deafness are due to mutations in genes that impair the development or function of hair cells, which are responsible for changing sound into electrical signals that can be processed by the brain. Both mice and humans carrying these mutations fail standard hearing tests. In contrast, very little is known about the genetic basis of central auditory processing disorders, which are poorly defined and difficult to diagnose, since these patients can still detect sounds. By finding genes that are required for the normal wiring of central auditory circuits in mice, we can investigate how changes at the circuit level affect circuit function and therefore improve our understanding of central auditory processing disorders. Here, we show that the natriuretic peptide receptor Npr2 is required to establish frequency maps in the mouse central auditory system. Surprisingly, despite a dramatic change in circuit organization, Npr2 mutant mice are still able to respond to sounds with normal sensitivity and timing, underscoring the need for better hearing diagnostic methods in mice as in humans.
PMCID: PMC4256264  PMID: 25473838
18.  Natriuretic peptide receptors regulate cytoprotective effects in a human ex vivo 3D/bioreactor model 
The present study examined the effect of C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) and biomechanical signals on anabolic and catabolic activities in chondrocyte/agarose constructs.
Natriuretic peptide (Npr) 2 and 3 expression were compared in non-diseased (grade 0/1) and diseased (grade IV) human cartilage by immunofluoresence microscopy and western blotting. In separate experiments, constructs were cultured under free-swelling conditions or subjected to dynamic compression with CNP, interleukin-1β (IL-1β), the Npr2 antagonist P19 or the Npr3 agonist cANF4-23. Nitric oxide (NO) production, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) release, glycosaminoglycan (GAG) synthesis and CNP concentration were quantified using biochemical assays. Gene expression of Npr2, Npr3, CNP, aggrecan and collagen type II were assessed by real-time qPCR. Two-way ANOVA and a post hoc Bonferroni-corrected t-test were used to analyse the data.
The present study demonstrates increased expression of natriuretic peptide receptors in diseased or older cartilage (age 70) when compared to non-diseased tissue (age 60) which showed minimal expression. There was strong parallelism in the actions of CNP on cGMP induction resulting in enhanced GAG synthesis and reduction of NO and PGE2 release induced by IL-1β. Inhibition of Npr2 with P19 maintained catabolic activities whilst specific agonism of Npr3 with cANF4-23 had the opposite effect and reduced NO and PGE2 release. Co-stimulation with CNP and dynamic compression enhanced anabolic activities and inhibited catabolic effects induced by IL-1β. The presence of CNP and the Npr2 antagonist abolished the anabolic response to mechanical loading and prevented loading-induced inhibition of NO and PGE2 release. In contrast, the presence of the Npr3 agonist had the opposite effect and increased GAG synthesis and cGMP levels in response to mechanical loading and reduced NO and PGE2 release comparable to control samples. In addition, CNP concentration and natriuretic peptide receptor expression were increased with dynamic compression.
Mechanical loading mediates endogenous CNP release leading to increased natriuretic peptide signalling. The loading-induced CNP/Npr2/cGMP signalling route mediates anabolic events and prevents catabolic activities induced by IL-1β. The CNP pathway therefore represents a potentially chondroprotective intervention for patients with OA, particularly when combined with physiotherapeutic approaches to stimulate biomechanical signals.
PMCID: PMC3978875  PMID: 23883591
19.  Dexamethasone stimulates expression of C-type Natriuretic Peptide in chondrocytes 
Growth of endochondral bones is regulated through the activity of cartilaginous growth plates. Disruption of the physiological patterns of chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation – such as in endocrine disorders or in many different genetic diseases (e.g. chondrodysplasias) – generally results in dwarfism and skeletal defects. For example, glucocorticoid administration in children inhibits endochondral bone growth, but the molecular targets of these hormones in chondrocytes remain largely unknown. In contrast, recent studies have shown that C-type Natriuretic Peptide (CNP) is an important anabolic regulator of cartilage growth, and loss-of-function mutations in the human CNP receptor gene cause dwarfism. We asked whether glucocorticoids could exert their activities by interfering with the expression of CNP or its downstream signaling components.
Primary mouse chondrocytes in monolayer where incubated with the synthetic glucocorticoid Dexamethasone (DEX) for 12 to 72 hours. Cell numbers were determined by counting, and real-time PCR was performed to examine regulation of genes in the CNP signaling pathway by DEX.
We show that DEX does influence expression of key genes in the CNP pathway. Most importantly, DEX significantly increases RNA expression of the gene encoding CNP itself (Nppc). In addition, DEX stimulates expression of Prkg2 (encoding cGMP-dependent protein kinase II) and Npr3 (natriuretic peptide decoy receptor) genes. Conversely, DEX was found to down-regulate the expression of the gene encoding its receptor, Nr3c1 (glucocorticoid receptor), as well as the Npr2 gene (encoding the CNP receptor).
Our data suggest that the growth-suppressive activities of DEX are not due to blockade of CNP signaling. This study reveals a novel, unanticipated relationship between glucocorticoid and CNP signaling and provides the first evidence that CNP expression in chondrocytes is regulated by endocrine factors.
PMCID: PMC1660540  PMID: 17116261
20.  Regulation of cardiac angiotensin-converting enzyme and angiotensin AT1 receptor gene expression in Npr1 gene-disrupted mice 
Understanding of the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression in the control of blood pressure and fluid volume is a key issue in cardiovascular medicine. Guanylyl cyclase/natriuretic peptide receptor-A (GC-A/NPRA) signalling antagonizes the physiological and pathophysiological effects mediated by the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS) in the regulation of cardiovascular homeostasis.The targeted-disruption of the Npr1 gene (coding for GC-A/PRA) leads to activation of the cardiac RAAS involved in the hypertrophic remodelling process, which influences cardiac size, expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine genes and the behaviour of various hypertrophy marker genes. The Npr1 gene-knockout (Npr1−/−) mice exhibit 35–40 mmHg higher systolic blood pressure and a significantly greater heart weight to bodyweight ratio than wild-type (Npr1+/+) mice.The expression of both angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and angiotensin II AT1a receptors are significantly increased in hearts from Npr1−/− mice compared with hearts from Npr1+/+ mice. In parallel, the expression of interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α is also markedly increased in hearts from Npr1−/− mice.These findings indicate that disruption of NPRA/cGMP signalling leads to augmented expression of the cardiac RAAS in conjunction with pro-inflammatory cytokines in Npr1-null mutant mice, which promotes the development of cardiac hypertrophy and remodelling.
PMCID: PMC4317343  PMID: 19843097
angiotensin-converting enzyme; AT1 receptor; atrial natriuretic peptide; cardiac hypertrophy; fibrosis; gene expression; gene knockout; guanylyl cyclase/natriuretic peptide receptor-A; pro-inflammatory cytokines
21.  NPR-B natriuretic peptide receptors in human corneal epithelium: mRNA, immunohistochemistochemical, protein, and biochemical pharmacology studies 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:1241-1252.
To demonstrate the presence of natriuretic peptide receptors (NPRs) in primary human corneal epithelial cells (p-CEPI), SV40-immortalized CEPI cells (CEPI-17-CL4) and in human corneal epithelium, and to define the pharmacology of natriuretic peptide (NP)-induced cGMP accumulation.
NPR presence was shown by RT–PCR, western blot analysis, and indirect immunofluoresence. cGMP accumulation was determined using an enzyme immunoassay.
p-CEPI and CEPI-17-CL4 cells expressed mRNAs for NPR-A and NPR-B. Proteins for both NPRs were present in these cells and in human corneal epithelium. C-type NP (CNP), atrial NP (ANP) and brain NP (BNP) stimulated the accumulation of cGMP in a concentration-dependent manner in p-CEPI cells (potency; EC50s): CNP (1–53 amino acids) EC50=24±5 nM; CNP fragment (32–53 amino acids) EC50=51±8 nM; ANP (1–28 amino acids) EC50=>10 µM; BNP (32 amino acids) EC50>10 µM (all n=3–4). While the NPs were generally more potent in the CEPI-17-CL4 cells than in p-CEPI cells (n=4–9; p<0.01), the rank order of potency of the peptides was essentially the same in both cell types. Effects of CNP fragment in p-CEPI and CEPI-17-CL4 cells were potently blocked by HS-142–1, an NPR-B receptor subtype-selective antagonist (Ki=0.25±0.05 µM in CEPI-CL4–17; Ki=0.44±0.09 µM in p-CEPIs; n=6–7) but less so by an NPR-A receptor antagonist, isatin (Ki=5.3–7.8 µM, n=3–7).
Our studies showed the presence of NPR-A and NPR-B (mRNAs and protein) in p-CEPI and CEPI-17-CL4 cells and in human corneal epithelial tissue. However, detailed pharmacological studies revealed NPR-B to be the predominant functionally active receptor in both cell-types whose activation leads to the generation of cGMP. While the physiologic role(s) of the NP system in corneal function remains to be delineated, our multidisciplinary findings pave the way for such future investigations.
PMCID: PMC2903464  PMID: 20664698
22.  Cell Surface Protein Disulfide Isomerase Regulates Natriuretic Peptide Generation of Cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112986.
The family of natriuretic peptides (NPs), including atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), exert important and diverse actions for cardiovascular and renal homeostasis. The autocrine and paracrine functions of the NPs are primarily mediated through the cellular membrane bound guanylyl cyclase-linked receptors GC-A (NPR-A) and GC-B (NPR-B). As the ligands and receptors each contain disulfide bonds, a regulatory role for the cell surface protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) was investigated.
We utilized complementary in vitro and in vivo models to determine the potential role of PDI in regulating the ability of the NPs to generate its second messenger, cyclic guanosine monophosphate.
Methods and Results
Inhibition of PDI attenuated the ability of ANP, BNP and CNP to generate cGMP in human mesangial cells (HMCs), human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), and human aortic smooth muscle cells (HASMCs), each of which were shown to express PDI. In LLC-PK1 cells, where PDI expression was undetectable by immunoblotting, PDI inhibition had a minimal effect on cGMP generation. Addition of PDI to cultured LLC-PK1 cells increased intracellular cGMP generation mediated by ANP. Inhibition of PDI in vivo attenuated NP-mediated generation of cGMP by ANP. Surface Plasmon Resonance demonstrated modest and differential binding of the natriuretic peptides with immobilized PDI in a cell free system. However, PDI was shown to co-localize on the surface of cells with GC-A and GC-B by co-immunoprecpitation and immunohistochemistry.
These data demonstrate for the first time that cell surface PDI expression and function regulate the capacity of natriuretic peptides to generate cGMP through interaction with their receptors.
PMCID: PMC4242536  PMID: 25419565
23.  Dephosphorylation of juxtamembrane serines and threonines of the NPR2 guanylyl cyclase is required for rapid resumption of oocyte meiosis in response to luteinizing hormone 
Developmental biology  2015;409(1):194-201.
The meiotic cell cycle of mammalian oocytes starts during embryogenesis and then pauses until luteinizing hormone (LH) acts on the granulosa cells of the follicle surrounding the oocyte to restart the cell cycle. An essential event in this process is a decrease in cyclic GMP in the granulosa cells, and part of the cGMP decrease results from dephosphorylation and inactivation of the natriuretic peptide receptor 2 (NPR2) guanylyl cyclase, also known as guanylyl cyclase B. However, it is unknown whether NPR2 dephosphorylation is essential for LH-induced meiotic resumption. Here, we prevented NPR2 dephosphorylation by generating a mouse line in which the seven regulatory serines and threonines of NPR2 were changed to the phosphomimetic amino acid glutamate (Npr2–7E). Npr2–7E/7E follicles failed to show a decrease in enzyme activity in response to LH, and the cGMP decrease was attenuated; correspondingly, LH-induced meiotic resumption was delayed. Meiotic resumption in response to EGF receptor activation was likewise delayed, indicating that NPR2 dephosphorylation is a component of the pathway by which EGF receptor activation mediates LH signaling. We also found that most of the NPR2 protein in the follicle was present in the mural granulosa cells. These findings indicate that NPR2 dephosphorylation in the mural granulosa cells is essential for the normal progression of meiosis in response to LH and EGF receptor activation. In addition, these studies provide the first demonstration that a change in phosphorylation of a transmembrane guanylyl cyclase regulates a physiological process, a mechanism that may also control other developmental events.
PMCID: PMC4860734  PMID: 26522847
24.  NPs/NPRs Signaling Pathways May Be Involved in Depression-Induced Loss of Gastric ICC by Decreasing the Production of mSCF 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0149031.
It is well known that natriuretic peptides (NPs) are involved in the regulation of gastrointestinal motility. Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) are the pacemaker cells of gastrointestinal motility and gastrointestinal dyskinesia is one of the important digestive tract symptoms of depression. However, it is unclear whether they are involved in depression-induced loss of ICC. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between the natriuretic peptide signaling pathway and depression-induced loss of gastric ICC in depressed rats. These results showed that the expression of c-kit and stem cell factor (SCF) in smooth muscle layers of stomach were down-regulated in depressed rats at the mRNA and protein levels. The expression of natriuretic peptide receptor (NPR)-A, B and C were up-regulated in the stomach of depressed rats at the mRNA and protein levels. NPR-A, B and C can significantly decrease the expression of SCF to treat cultured gastric smooth muscle cells (GSMCs) obtained from normal rats with different concentrations of C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP). Pretreatment of cultured GSMCs with 8-Brom-cGMP (8-Br-cGMP, a membrane permeable cGMP analog), cANF (a specific NPR-C agonist) and CNP (10−6 mol/L) demonstrated that 8-Br-cGMP had a similar effect as CNP, but treatment with cANF did not. The results of the methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay indicated that high concentrations of cANF (10−6 mol/L) restrained the proliferation of cultured GSMCs. Taken together, these results indicate that the up-regulation of the NPs/NPR-C and NPs/NPR-A, B/cGMP signaling pathways may be involved in depression-induced loss of gastric ICC.
PMCID: PMC4749124  PMID: 26862759
25.  Granulosa Cell Ligand NPPC and Its Receptor NPR2 Maintain Meiotic Arrest in Mouse Oocytes 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;330(6002):366-369.
Granulosa cells of mammalian Graafian follicles maintain oocytes in meiotic arrest, which prevents the precocious maturation. We show that mouse mural granulosa cells, which line the follicle wall, express natriuretic peptide precursor type C, Nppc, mRNA while cumulus cells surrounding oocytes express mRNA of the NPPC receptor NPR2, a guanylyl cyclase. NPPC elevated cGMP levels in cumulus cells and oocytes and inhibited meiotic resumption in vitro. Meiotic arrest was not sustained in most Graafian follicles of Nppc or Npr2 mutant mice, and meiosis resumed precociously. Oocyte-derived paracrine factors promoted cumulus cell expression of Npr2 mRNA. Therefore, the granulosa cell ligand NPPC and its receptor NPR2 in cumulus cells prevent precocious meiotic maturation, which is critical for maturation and ovulation synchrony and for normal female fertility.
PMCID: PMC3056542  PMID: 20947764

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