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1.  β-CATENIN MEDIATES INSULIN-LIKE GROWTH FACTOR-I (IGF-I) ACTIONS TO PROMOTE CYCLIN D1 mRNA EXPRESSION, CELL PROLIFERATION AND SURVIVAL IN OLIGODENDROGLIAL CULTURES 
Glia  2010;58(9):1031-1041.
By promoting cell proliferation, survival and maturation insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I is essential to the normal growth and development of the central nervous system. It is clear that IGF-I actions are primarily mediated by the type I IGF receptor (IGF1R), and that phosphoinositide 3 (PI3)-Akt kinases and MAP kinases signal many of IGF-I-IGF1R actions in neural cells, including oligodendrocyte lineage cells. The precise downstream targets of these signaling pathways, however, remain to be defined. We studied oligodendroglial cells to determine whether β-catenin, a molecule that is a downstream target of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) and plays a key role in the Wnt canonical signaling pathway, mediates IGF-I actions. We found that IGF-I increases β-catenin protein abundance within an hour after IGF-I-induced phosphorylation of Akt and GSK3β. Inhibiting the PI3-Akt pathway suppressed IGF-I-induced increases in β-catenin and cyclin D1 mRNA, while suppression of GSK3β activity simulated IGF-I actions. Knocking-down β-catenin mRNA by RNA interference suppressed IGF-I-stimulated increases in the abundance of cyclin D1 mRNA, cell proliferation, and cell survival. Our data suggest that β-catenin is an important downstream molecule in the PI3-Akt-GSK3β pathway, and as such it mediates IGF-I upregulation of cyclin D1 mRNA and promotion of cell proliferation and survival in oligodendroglial cells.
doi:10.1002/glia.20984
PMCID: PMC2917840  PMID: 20235220
IGF-I; β-catenin; GSK3β; oligodendrocytes; signaling transduction
2.  Blunting type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor expression exacerbates neuronal apoptosis following hypoxic/ischemic injury 
BMC Neuroscience  2011;12:64.
Background
Abundant experimental data have implicated an important role for insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in protecting neuronal cells from injury, including hypoxia/ischemia (H/I) injury, a major cause of neuron death. While the specific interaction of IGFs with neuronal or glial type 1 IGF receptors (IGF1R) has been shown to be essential to IGF actions during development, the same has not been directly demonstrated following H/I injury. To directly examine the role of neuronal IGF1R following H/I injury, we utilized conditional mutant nes-igf1r-/Wt mice and determined the impact of IGF1R haplodeficiency specifically in nestin-expressing neuronal precursors and their progeny on H/I-induced neuronal damage and apoptosis in hippocampus.
Results
H/I induced significant damage to the cerebral hemisphere and hippocampus ipsilateral to the ligated right common carotid artery both in control and nes-igf1r-/Wt mice at postnatal day 10. Blunting IGF1R expression, however, markedly exacerbated H/I-induced damage and appeared to increase mortality. In the ipsilateral hemisphere and hippocampus, nes-igf1r-/Wt mice had infarct areas double the size of those in controls. The size of the ipsilateral hemisphere and hippocampus in nes-igf1r-/Wt mice were 15% to 17% larger than those in controls, reflecting more severe edema. Consistent with its effects on infarct area, IGF1R haplodeficiency causes a greater decrease in neurons in the ipsilateral hippocampus of nes-igf1r-/Wt mice. The reduction in neurons was largely due to increases in neuronal apoptosis. Judged by pyknotic nuclei, TUNEL and caspase-3 labeling, nes-igf1r-/Wt mice had significantly more apoptotic cells than that in controls after injury. To determine possible mechanisms of IGF1R actions, the mRNA expression of the pro-survival proteins IAP-1 and XIAP was determined. Compared to controls, the abundance of cIAP-1 and XIAP mRNA was markedly suppressed in mice with blunted IGF1R or IGF-I expression, while was increased in the brain of IGF-I overexpressing transgenic mice.
Conclusion
IGF1R in neuronal cells is critically important for their survival following H/I injury, and IGF-upregulated expression of neuronal cIAP-1 and XIAP likely in part contributes to IGF-IGF1R protection against neuronal apoptosis following H/I injury.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-64
PMCID: PMC3146424  PMID: 21718528
3.  Developmental and oncogenic effects of Insulin-like Growth Factor-I in Ptc1+/- mouse cerebellum 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:53.
Background
Medulloblastoma is amongst the most common malignant brain tumors in childhood, arising from neoplastic transformation of granule neuron precursors (GNPs) of the cerebellum via deregulation of pathways involved in cerebellar development. Deregulation of the Sonic hedgehog/Patched1 (Shh/Ptc1) signaling pathway predisposes humans and mice to medulloblastoma. In the brain, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) plays a critical role during development as a neurotrophic and neuroprotective factor, and in tumorigenesis, as IGF-I receptor is often activated in medulloblastomas.
Results
To investigate the mechanisms of genetic interactions between Shh and IGF signaling in the cerebellum, we crossed nestin/IGF-I transgenic (IGF-I Tg) mice, in which transgene expression occurs in neuron precursors, with Ptc1+/- knockout mice, a model of medulloblastoma in which cancer develops in a multistage process. The IGF-I transgene produced a marked brain overgrowth, and significantly accelerated tumor development, increasing the frequency of pre-neoplastic lesions as well as full medulloblastomas in Ptc1+/-/IGF-I Tg mice. Mechanistically, tumor promotion by IGF-I mainly affected preneoplastic stages through de novo formation of lesions, while not influencing progression rate to full tumors. We also identified a marked increase in survival and proliferation, and a strong suppression of differentiation in neural precursors.
Conclusions
As a whole, our findings indicate that IGF-I overexpression in neural precursors leads to brain overgrowth and fosters external granular layer (EGL) proliferative lesions through a mechanism favoring proliferation over terminal differentiation, acting as a landscape for tumor growth. Understanding the molecular events responsible for cerebellum development and their alterations in tumorigenesis is critical for the identification of potential therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-9-53
PMCID: PMC2846887  PMID: 20214787
4.  Thyroid Hormone-Mediated Growth and Differentiation of Growth Plate Chondrocytes Involves IGF-1 Modulation of β-Catenin Signaling 
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research  2009;25(5):1138-1146.
Thyroid hormone regulates terminal differentiation of growth plate chondrocytes in part through modulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) has been described as a stabilizer of β-catenin, and thyroid hormone is a known stimulator of IGF-1 receptor expression. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that IGF-1 signaling is involved in the interaction between the thyroid hormone and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways in regulating growth plate chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation. The results show that IGF-1 and the IGF- receptor (IGF1R) stimulate Wnt-4 expression and β-catenin activation in growth plate chondrocytes. The positive effects of IGF-1/IGF1R on chondrocyte proliferation and terminal differentiation are partially inhibited by the Wnt antagonists sFRP3 and Dkk1. T3 activates IGF-1/IGF1R signaling and IGF-1-dependent PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling in growth plate chondrocytes undergoing proliferation and differentiation to prehypertrophy. T3-mediated Wnt-4 expression, β-catenin activation, cell proliferation, and terminal differentiation of growth plate chondrocytes are partially prevented by the IGF1R inhibitor picropodophyllin as well as by the PI3K/Akt signaling inhibitors LY294002 and Akti1/2. These data indicate that the interactions between thyroid hormone and β-catenin signaling in regulating growth plate chondrocyte proliferation and terminal differentiation are modulated by IGF-1/IGF1R signaling through both the Wnt and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways. While chondrocyte proliferation may be triggered by the IGF-1/IGF1R-mediated PI3K/Akt/GSK3β pathway, cell hypertrophy is likely due to activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, which is at least in part initiated by IGF-1 signaling or the IGF-1-activated PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
doi:10.1002/jbmr.5
PMCID: PMC3123724  PMID: 20200966
thyroid hormone; insulin-like growth factor 1; β-catenin; growth plate chondrocytes
5.  Thyroid hormone-mediated growth and differentiation of growth plate chondrocytes involves IGF-1 modulation of β-catenin signaling 
Thyroid hormone regulates terminal differentiation of growth plate chondrocytes in part through modulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. IGF-1 has been described as a stabilizer of β-catenin, and thyroid hormone is a known stimulator of IGF-1 receptor expression. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that IGF-1 signaling is involved in the interaction between the thyroid hormone and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways in regulating growth plate chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation.
The results show that IGF-1 and IGF1R stimulate Wnt-4 expression and β-catenin activation in growth plate chondrocytes. The positive effects of IGF-1/IGF1R on chondrocyte proliferation and terminal differentiation are partially inhibited by the Wnt antagonists sFRP3 and Dkk1. T3 activates IGF-1/IGF1R signaling and IGF-1-dependent PI3K/Akt/GSK3β signaling in growth plate chondrocytes undergoing proliferation and differentiation to prehypertrophy. T3-mediated Wnt-4 expression, β-catenin activation, cell proliferation and terminal differentiation of growth plate chondrocytes are partially prevented by the IGF1R inhibitor picropodophyllin as well as the PI3K/Akt signaling inhibitors LY294002 and Akti1/2.
These data indicate that the interactions between thyroid hormone and β-catenin signaling in regulating growth plate chondrocyte proliferation and terminal differentiation are modulated by IGF-1/IGF1R signaling through both the Wnt and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways. While chondrocyte proliferation may be triggered by the IGF-1/IGF1R mediated PI3K/Akt/GSK3β pathway, cell hypertrophy is likely due to activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling, which is at least in part initiated by IGF-1 signaling or the IGF-1-activated PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.
doi:10.1002/jbmr.5
PMCID: PMC3123724  PMID: 20200966
thyroid hormone; insulin-like growth factor-1; β-catenin; growth plate chondrocytes
6.  IGF-1R Signaling in Chondrocytes Modulates Growth Plate Development by Interacting With the PTHrP/Ihh Pathway 
Systemic derangements and perinatal death of generalized insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) knockout mice preclude definitive assessment of IGF-1R actions in growth-plate (GP) chondrocytes. We generated cartilage-specific Igf1r knockout (CartIgf1r−/−) mice to investigate local control of chondrocyte differentiation in the GP by this receptor. These mice died shortly after birth and showed disorganized chondrocyte columns, delayed ossification and vascular invasion, decreased cell proliferation, increased apoptosis, and increased expression of parathyroid hormone-related protein (Pthrp) RNA and protein in their GPs. The increased Pthrp expression in the knockout GPs likely was due to an increase in gene transcription, as determined by the increased activity of a LacZ reporter that was inserted downstream of the endogenous PTHrP promoter and bred into the knockout mice. To circumvent the early death of CartIgf1r−/− mice and investigate the role of IGF-1R during postnatal growth, we made tamoxifen (Tam)–inducible, cartilage-specific Igf1r knockout (TamCartIgf1r−/−) mice. At 2 weeks of age and 7 to 8 days after Tam injection, the TamCartIgf1r−/− mice showed growth retardation with a disorganized GP, reduced chondrocyte proliferation, decreased type 2 collagen and Indian Hedgehog (Ihh) expression, but increased expression of PTHrP. Consistent with in vivo observations, in vitro knockout of the Igf1r gene by adenoviral expression of Cre recombinase suppressed cell proliferation, promoted apoptosis, and increased Pthrp expression. Our data indicate that the IGF-1R in chondrocytes controls cell growth, survival, and differentiation in embryonic and postnatal GPs in part by suppression of Pthrp expression.
doi:10.1002/jbmr.359
PMCID: PMC3530140  PMID: 21312270
IGF-1 RECEPTOR; CHONDROCYTE; GROWTH PLATE DEVELOPMENT; IHH; PTHRP
7.  Transcriptome Analysis in Prenatal IGF1-Deficient Mice Identifies Molecular Pathways and Target Genes Involved in Distal Lung Differentiation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83028.
Background
Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF1) is a multifunctional regulator of somatic growth and development throughout evolution. IGF1 signaling through IGF type 1 receptor (IGF1R) controls cell proliferation, survival and differentiation in multiple cell types. IGF1 deficiency in mice disrupts lung morphogenesis, causing altered prenatal pulmonary alveologenesis. Nevertheless, little is known about the cellular and molecular basis of IGF1 activity during lung development.
Methods/Principal Findings
Prenatal Igf1−/− mutant mice with a C57Bl/6J genetic background displayed severe disproportional lung hypoplasia, leading to lethal neonatal respiratory distress. Immuno-histological analysis of their lungs showed a thickened mesenchyme, alterations in extracellular matrix deposition, thinner smooth muscles and dilated blood vessels, which indicated immature and delayed distal pulmonary organogenesis. Transcriptomic analysis of Igf1−/− E18.5 lungs using RNA microarrays identified deregulated genes related to vascularization, morphogenesis and cellular growth, and to MAP-kinase, Wnt and cell-adhesion pathways. Up-regulation of immunity-related genes was verified by an increase in inflammatory markers. Increased expression of Nfib and reduced expression of Klf2, Egr1 and Ctgf regulatory proteins as well as activation of ERK2 MAP-kinase were corroborated by Western blot. Among IGF-system genes only IGFBP2 revealed a reduction in mRNA expression in mutant lungs. Immuno-staining patterns for IGF1R and IGF2, similar in both genotypes, correlated to alterations found in specific cell compartments of Igf1−/− lungs. IGF1 addition to Igf1−/− embryonic lungs cultured ex vivo increased airway septa remodeling and distal epithelium maturation, processes accompanied by up-regulation of Nfib and Klf2 transcription factors and Cyr61 matricellular protein.
Conclusions/Significance
We demonstrated the functional tissue specific implication of IGF1 on fetal lung development in mice. Results revealed novel target genes and gene networks mediators of IGF1 action on pulmonary cellular proliferation, differentiation, adhesion and immunity, and on vascular and distal epithelium maturation during prenatal lung development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083028
PMCID: PMC3877002  PMID: 24391734
8.  RNA Microarray Analysis in Prenatal Mouse Cochlea Reveals Novel IGF-I Target Genes: Implication of MEF2 and FOXM1 Transcription Factors 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8699.
Background
Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) provides pivotal cell survival and differentiation signals during inner ear development throughout evolution. Homozygous mutations of human IGF1 cause syndromic sensorineural deafness, decreased intrauterine and postnatal growth rates, and mental retardation. In the mouse, deficits in IGF-I result in profound hearing loss associated with reduced survival, differentiation and maturation of auditory neurons. Nevertheless, little is known about the molecular basis of IGF-I activity in hearing and deafness.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A combination of quantitative RT-PCR, subcellular fractionation and Western blotting, along with in situ hybridization studies show IGF-I and its high affinity receptor to be strongly expressed in the embryonic and postnatal mouse cochlea. The expression of both proteins decreases after birth and in the cochlea of E18.5 embryonic Igf1−/− null mice, the balance of the main IGF related signalling pathways is altered, with lower activation of Akt and ERK1/2 and stronger activation of p38 kinase. By comparing the Igf1−/− and Igf1+/+ transcriptomes in E18.5 mouse cochleae using RNA microchips and validating their results, we demonstrate the up-regulation of the FoxM1 transcription factor and the misexpression of the neural progenitor transcription factors Six6 and Mash1 associated with the loss of IGF-I. Parallel, in silico promoter analysis of the genes modulated in conjunction with the loss of IGF-I revealed the possible involvement of MEF2 in cochlear development. E18.5 Igf1+/+ mouse auditory ganglion neurons showed intense MEF2A and MEF2D nuclear staining and MEF2A was also evident in the organ of Corti. At P15, MEF2A and MEF2D expression were shown in neurons and sensory cells. In the absence of IGF-I, nuclear levels of MEF2 were diminished, indicating less transcriptional MEF2 activity. By contrast, there was an increase in the nuclear accumulation of FoxM1 and a corresponding decrease in the nuclear cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1.
Conclusions/Significance
We have defined the spatiotemporal expression of elements involved in IGF signalling during inner ear development and reveal novel regulatory mechanisms that are modulated by IGF-I in promoting sensory cell and neural survival and differentiation. These data will help us to understand the molecular bases of human sensorineural deafness associated to deficits in IGF-I.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008699
PMCID: PMC2810322  PMID: 20111592
9.  Analysis of the Role of Igf2 in Adrenal Tumour Development in Transgenic Mouse Models 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e44171.
Adrenal cortical carcinomas (ACC) are rare but aggressive tumours associated with poor prognosis. The two most frequent alterations in ACC in patients are overexpression of the growth factor IGF2 and constitutive activation of Wnt/β-catenin signalling. Using a transgenic mouse model, we have previously shown that constitutive active β-catenin is a bona fide adrenal oncogene. However, although all these mice developed benign adrenal hyperplasia, malignant progression was infrequent, suggesting that secondary genetic events were required for aggressive tumour development. In the present paper, we have tested IGF2 oncogenic properties by developing two distinct transgenic mouse models of Igf2 overexpression in the adrenal cortex. Our analysis shows that despite overexpression levels ranging from 7 (basal) to 87 (ACTH-induced) fold, Igf2 has no tumour initiating potential in the adrenal cortex. However, it induces aberrant accumulation of Gli1 and Pod1-positive progenitor cells, in a hedgehog-independent manner. We have also tested the hypothesis that Igf2 may cooperate with Wnt signalling by mating Igf2 overexpressing lines with mice that express constitutive active β-catenin in the adrenal cortex. We show that the combination of both alterations has no effect on tumour phenotype at stages when β-catenin-induced tumours are benign. However, there is a mild promoting effect at later stages, characterised by increased Weiss score and proliferation. Formation of malignant tumours is nonetheless a rare event, even when Igf2 expression is further increased by ACTH treatment. Altogether these experiments suggest that the growth factor IGF2 is a mild contributor to malignant adrenocortical tumourigenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044171
PMCID: PMC3429465  PMID: 22952916
10.  IGF-1 promotes G1/S cell cycle progression through bidirectional regulation of cyclins and CDK inhibitors via the PI3K/Akt pathway in developing rat cerebral cortex 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2009;29(3):775-788.
While survival promoting effects of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) during neurogenesis are well characterized, mitogenic effects remain less well substantiated. Here, we characterize cell cycle regulators and signaling pathways underlying IGF-1 effects on embryonic cortical precursor proliferation in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, IGF-1 stimulated cell cycle progression and increased cell number without promoting cell survival. IGF-1 induced rapid increases in cyclin D1 and D3 protein levels at 4h and cyclin E at 8h. Moreover, p27KIP1 and p57KIP2 expression were reduced, suggesting downregulation of negative regulators contributes to mitogenesis. Further, the PI3K/Akt pathway specifically underlies IGF-1 activity, as blocking this pathway, but not MEK/ERK, prevented mitogenesis. To determine whether mechanisms defined in culture relate to corticogenesis in vivo, we performed transuterine intracerebroventricular injections. While blockade of endogenous factor with anti-IGF-1 antibody decreased DNA synthesis, IGF-1 injection stimulated DNA synthesis and increased the number of S-phase cells in the VZ. IGF-1 treatment increased phospho-Akt 4 fold at 30 min, cyclins D1 and E by 6h, and decreased p27KIP1 and p57KIP2 expression. Moreover, blockade of the PI3K/Akt pathway in vivo decreased DNA synthesis and cyclin E, increased p27KIP1 and p57KIP2 expression, and prevented IGF-1 induced cyclin E mRNA upregulation. Finally, IGF-1 injection in embryos increased P10 brain DNA content by 28%, suggesting a role for IGF-1 in brain growth control. These results demonstrate a mitogenic role for IGF-1 which tightly controls both positive and negative cell cycle regulators, and indicate that the PI3K/Akt pathway mediates IGF-1 mitogenic signaling during corticogenesis.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1700-08.2009
PMCID: PMC3256126  PMID: 19158303
corticogenesis; IGF-1; p27KIP1; p57KIP2; PI3K/Akt; proliferation
11.  Insulin Receptor Isoform A, a Newly Recognized, High-Affinity Insulin-Like Growth Factor II Receptor in Fetal and Cancer Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(5):3278-3288.
Insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) is a peptide growth factor that is homologous to both insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and insulin and plays an important role in embryonic development and carcinogenesis. IGF-II is believed to mediate its cellular signaling via the transmembrane tyrosine kinase type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-I-R), which is also the receptor for IGF-I. Earlier studies with both cultured cells and transgenic mice, however, have suggested that in the embryo the insulin receptor (IR) may also be a receptor for IGF-II. In most cells and tissues, IR binds IGF-II with relatively low affinity. The IR is expressed in two isoforms (IR-A and IR-B) differing by 12 amino acids due to the alternative splicing of exon 11. In the present study we found that IR-A but not IR-B bound IGF-II with an affinity close to that of insulin. Moreover, IGF-II bound to IR-A with an affinity equal to that of IGF-II binding to the IGF-I-R. Activation of IR-A by insulin led primarily to metabolic effects, whereas activation of IR-A by IGF-II led primarily to mitogenic effects. These differences in the biological effects of IR-A when activated by either IGF-II or insulin were associated with differential recruitment and activation of intracellular substrates. IR-A was preferentially expressed in fetal cells such as fetal fibroblasts, muscle, liver and kidney and had a relatively increased proportion of isoform A. IR-A expression was also increased in several tumors including those of the breast and colon. These data indicate, therefore, that there are two receptors for IGF-II, both IGF-I-R and IR-A. Further, they suggest that interaction of IGF-II with IR-A may play a role both in fetal growth and cancer biology.
PMCID: PMC84122  PMID: 10207053
12.  Motor Function Deficits Following Chronic Prenatal Ethanol Exposure are Linked to Impairments in Insulin/IGF, Notch and Wnt Signaling in the Cerebellum 
Background
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is associated with deficits in cerebellar function that can persist through adolescence. Previous studies demonstrated striking inhibition of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling in ethanol-exposed cerebella.
Objectives
We sought to determine if FASD-induced impairments in motor function were associated with deficits in insulin/IGF signaling in juvenile cerebella. Given the growing evidence that insulin/IGF pathways cross-talk with Notch and Wnt to promote brain development and maturation; we also examined the integrity of canonical Wnt and Notch signaling networks in the brain following chronic prenatal ethanol exposure.
Methods
Pregnant Long Evans rats were fed isocaloric liquid diets containing 0% or 24% ethanol by caloric content from gestation day 6 through delivery. Pups were subjected to rotarod testing on postnatal days (P) 15–16 and sacrificed on P30. Cerebella were used for molecular and biochemical analysis of insulin/IGF-1, canonical Wnt, and Notch signaling mechanisms.
Results
Prenatal ethanol exposures impaired rotarod performance, inhibited signaling through insulin and IGF-1 receptors, IRS-1, and Akt, increased activation of GSK-3β, and broadly suppressed genes mediating the canonical Wnt and Notch networks.
Conclusions
Abnormalities in cerebellar function following chronic prenatal ethanol exposure are associated with inhibition of insulin/IGF, canonical Wnt, and Notch networks that cross-talk via GSK-3β. Effective therapeutic measures for FASD may require multi-pronged support of interrelated signaling networks that regulate brain development.
PMCID: PMC4096945  PMID: 25035811
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Insulin; IGF; Wnt; Notch; Cerebellum; Prenatal ethanol exposure; Signal transduction; Multiplex ELISA
13.  MicroRNA-133a Regulates Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 Receptor Expression and Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Proliferation in Murine Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2013;232(1):171-179.
Objective
MicroRNA-133a (miR-133a) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are two different molecules known to regulate cardiovascular cell proliferation. This study tested whether miR-133a affects expression of IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) and proliferation of IGF-1-stimulated vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in a murine model of atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
Expression of IGF-1R was analyzed by immuno-fluorescence and immuno-blotting, and miR-133a by qRT-PCR in the aortas of wild-type C57BL/6J (WT) and apolipoprotein-E deficient (ApoE−/−) mice. Compared to those in WT aortas, the IGF-1R and miR-133a levels were lower in ApoE−/− aortas. ApoE−/− VSMC grew slower than WT cells in the cultures with IGF-1-containing medium. MiR-133a-specific inhibitor decreased miR-133a, IGF-1R expression, IGF-1-stimulated VSMC growth in lipoprotein-deficient media. By contrast, miR-133a precursor increased IGF-1R levels and promoted IGF-1-induced VSMC proliferation. In the luciferase-IGF-1R 3’UTR reporter system, the reporter luciferase activity was not inhibited in VSMC with miR-133a overexpression. IGF-1R mRNA half-life in ApoE−/− VSMC was shorter than that in WT VSMC. MiR-133a inhibitor reduced but precursor increased the mRNA half-life, although the effects appeared less striking in ApoE−/− VSMC than in WT cells.
Conclusion
MiR-133a serves as a stimulatory factor for IGF-1R expression through prolonging IGF-1R mRNA half-life. In atherosclerosis induced by ApoE deficiency, reduced miR-133a expression is associated with lower IGF-1R levels and suppressive VSMC growth. Administration of miR-133a precursor may potentiate IGF-1 stimulated VSMC survival and growth.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.11.029
PMCID: PMC4334121  PMID: 24401233
MicroRNA; Insulin-like growth factor; Artery; Smooth muscle cell; Atherosclerosis
14.  Expression of insulin-like growth factor I by activated hepatic stellate cells reduces fibrogenesis and enhances regeneration after liver injury 
Gut  2005;54(1):134-141.
Background/Aim: Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) express α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) and acquire a profibrogenic phenotype upon activation by noxious stimuli. Insulin-like growth I (IGF-I) has been shown to stimulate HSCs proliferation in vitro, but it has been reported to reduce liver damage and fibrogenesis when given to cirrhotic rats.
Methods: The authors used transgenic mice (SMP8-IGF-I) expressing IGF-I under control of αSMA promoter to study the influence of IGF-I synthesised by activated HSCs on the recovery from liver injury.
Results: The transgene was expressed by HSCs from SMP8-IGF-I mice upon activation in culture and in the livers of these animals after CCl4 challenge. Twenty four hours after administration of CCl4 both transgenic and wild type mice showed similar extensive necrosis and increased levels of serum transaminases. However at 72 hours SMP8-IGF-I mice exhibited lower serum transaminases, reduced hepatic expression of αSMA, and improved liver morphology compared with wild type littermates. Remarkably, at this time all eight CCl4 treated wild type mice manifested histological signs of liver necrosis that was severe in six of them, while six out of eight transgenic animals had virtually no necrosis. In SMP8-IGF-I mice robust DNA synthesis occurred earlier than in wild type animals and this was associated with enhanced production of HGF and lower TGFβ1 mRNA expression in the SMP8-IGF-I group. Moreover, Colα1(I) mRNA abundance at 72 hours was reduced in SMP8-IGF-I mice compared with wild type controls.
Conclusions: Targeted overexpression of IGF-I by activated HSCs restricts their activation, attenuates fibrogenesis, and accelarates liver regeneration. These effects appear to be mediated in part by upregulation of HGF and downregulation of TGFβ1. The data indicate that IGF-I can modulate the cytokine response to liver injury facilitating regeneration and reducing fibrosis.
doi:10.1136/gut.2003.024505
PMCID: PMC1774353  PMID: 15591519
carbon tetrachloride; HGF; smooth muscle actin; TGFβ; transgenic mice
15.  Type 1 IGF receptor translocates to the nucleus of human tumor cells 
Cancer research  2010;70(16):6412-6419.
The type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R) is a transmembrane glycoprotein comprising two extracellular α subunits and two β subunits with tyrosine kinase activity. The IGF-1R is frequently upregulated in cancers, and signals from the cell surface to promote proliferation and cell survival. Recent attention has focused on the IGF-1R as a target for cancer treatment. Here we report that the nuclei of human tumor cells contain IGF-1R, detectable using multiple antibodies to α- and β- subunit domains. Cell surface IGF-1R translocates to the nucleus following clathrin-mediated endocytosis, regulated by IGF levels. The IGF-1R is unusual among transmembrane receptors that undergo nuclear import, in that both α and β subunits traffic to the nucleus. Nuclear IGF-1R is phosphorylated in response to ligand, and undergoes IGF-induced interaction with chromatin, suggesting direct engagement in transcriptional regulation. The IGF-dependence of these phenomena indicate a requirement for the receptor kinase, and indeed IGF-1R nuclear import and chromatin binding can be blocked by a novel IGF-1R kinase inhibitor. Nuclear IGF-1R is detectable in primary renal cancer cells, formalin-fixed tumors, preinvasive lesions in the breast, and non-malignant tissues characterized by a high proliferation rate. In clear cell renal cancer, nuclear IGF-1R is associated with adverse prognosis. Our findings suggest that IGF-1R nuclear import has biological significance, may contribute directly to IGF-1R function, and may influence the efficacy of IGF-1R inhibitory drugs.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-0052
PMCID: PMC2981028  PMID: 20710042
16.  Resveratrol suppresses IGF-1 induced human colon cancer cell proliferation and elevates apoptosis via suppression of IGF-1R/Wnt and activation of p53 signaling pathways 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:238.
Background
Obesity is a global phenomenon and is associated with various types of cancer, including colon cancer. There is a growing interest for safe and effective bioactive compounds that suppress the risk for obesity-promoted colon cancer. Resveratrol (trans-3, 4', 5,-trihydroxystilbene), a stilbenoid found in the skin of red grapes and peanuts suppresses many types of cancers by regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis through a variety of mechanisms, however, resveratrol effects on obesity-promoted colon cancer are not clearly established.
Methods
We investigated the anti-proliferative effects of resveratrol on HT-29 and SW480 human colon cancer cells in the presence and absence of insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1; elevated during obesity) and elucidated the mechanisms of action using IGF-1R siRNA in HT-29 cells which represents advanced colon carcinogenesis.
Results
Resveratrol (100-150 μM) exhibited anti-proliferative properties in HT-29 cells even after IGF-1 exposure by arresting G0/G1-S phase cell cycle progression through p27 stimulation and cyclin D1 suppression. Treatment with resveratrol suppressed IGF-1R protein levels and concurrently attenuated the downstream Akt/Wnt signaling pathways that play a critical role in cell proliferation. Targeted suppression of IGF-1R using IGF-1R siRNA also affected these signaling pathways in a similar manner. Resveratrol treatment induced apoptosis by activating tumor suppressor p53 protein, whereas IGF-1R siRNA treatment did not affect apoptosis. Our data suggests that resveratrol not only suppresses cell proliferation by inhibiting IGF-1R and its downstream signaling pathways similar to that of IGF-1R siRNA but also enhances apoptosis via activation of the p53 pathway.
Conclusions
For the first time, we report that resveratrol suppresses colon cancer cell proliferation and elevates apoptosis even in the presence of IGF-1 via suppression of IGF-1R/Akt/Wnt signaling pathways and activation of p53, suggesting its potential role as a chemotherapeutic agent.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-238
PMCID: PMC2891636  PMID: 20504360
17.  Insulin-like growth factor I receptor blockade enhances chemotherapy and radiation responses and inhibits tumour growth in human gastric cancer xenografts 
Gut  2005;54(5):591-600.
Background and aims: Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) I receptor (IGF-Ir) signalling is required for carcinogenicity and proliferation of many tumours but this pathway has not been studied in detail in gastric cancer. We have previously shown successful therapy for colorectal, pancreatic, and lung cancer using recombinant adenoviruses expressing dominant negative (dn) IGF-Ir. In this study, we sought to better dissect the role of IGF-Ir on progression of gastric cancer and determine whether IGF-Ir targeted adenoviruses represent potentially effective therapeutics for human gastric cancer.
Methods: We assessed the effect of IGF-Ir ligands on proliferation and survival in gastric cancer cells in culture. Then, recombinant adenoviruses expressing truncated IGF-Ir (482 and 950 amino acids long, IGF-Ir/dn) that function as dn inhibitors were studied in the treatment of human gastric cancer xenografts. We characterised the effects of IGF-Ir/dn on signalling blockade, growth, apoptosis induction, and in vivo therapeutic efficacy.
Results: IGF-Ir signalling promoted tumour growth and survival in gastric cancer. IGF-Ir/dn expression suppressed tumorigenicity both in vitro and in vivo and upregulated stressor induced apoptosis. IGF-Ir/dn blocked Akt-1 activation induced by IGF-I, IGF-II, and des(1-3)IGF-I, but not by insulin. IGF-Ir/dn expression increased radiation and chemotherapy induced apoptosis and the combination of IGF-Ir/dn and chemotherapy was very effective against tumours in mice. In an intraperitoneal model, IGF-Ir/dn therapy also suppressed peritoneal dissemination.
Conclusions: IGF-Ir is involved in the regulation of survival and cell growth in human gastric cancer and may be a good molecular therapeutic target. Adenovirus-IGF-Ir/dn may thus have therapeutic use in gastric cancer.
doi:10.1136/gut.2004.048926
PMCID: PMC1774471  PMID: 15831900
adenovirus; akt-1; dominant negative; insulin-like growth factor; gastric cancer; xenografts
18.  IGF-IR dependent expression of Survivin is required for T-Antigen mediated Protection from Apoptosis and Proliferation of Neural Progenitors 
Cell death and differentiation  2009;17(3):439-451.
The Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 Receptor (IGF-IR) and the human polyomavirus JCV protein, T-Antigen cooperate in the transformation of neuronal precursors in the cerebellum, which may be a contributing factor in the development of brain tumors. Since it is not clear why T-Antigen requires IGF-IR for transformation, we investigated this process in neural progenitors from IGF-IR knockout embryos (ko-IGF-IR) and from their wild type non-transgenic littermates (wt-IGF-IR). In contrast to wt-IGF-IR, the brain and dorsal root ganglia of ko-IGF-IR embryos showed low levels of the anti-apoptotic protein Survivin, accompanied by elevated numbers of apoptotic neurons and an earlier differentiation phenotype. In wt-IGF-IR neural progenitors in vitro, induction of T-Antigen expression tripled the expression of Survivin, and accelerated cell proliferation. In ko-IGF-IR progenitors induction of T-Antigen failed to increase Survivin, resulting in massive apoptosis. Importantly, ectopic expression of Survivin protected ko-IGF-IR progenitor cells from apoptosis and siRNA inhibition of Survivin activated apoptosis in wt-IGF-IR progenitors expressing T-Antigen. Our results indicate that reactivation of the anti-apoptotic Survivin may be a critical step in JCV T-Antigen induced transformation, which in neural progenitors requires IGF-IR.
doi:10.1038/cdd.2009.146
PMCID: PMC2822053  PMID: 19834489
Survivin; IGF-IR; JCV T-Antigen; Neurospheres; Apoptosis; Differentiation
19.  IGF-II transgenic mice display increased aberrant colon crypt multiplicity and tumor volume after 1,2-dimethylhydrazine treatment 
In colorectal cancer insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) is frequently overexpressed. To evaluate, whether IGF-II affects different stages of tumorigenesis, we induced neoplastic alterations in the colon of wild-type and IGF-II transgenic mice using 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH). Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) served as markers of early lesions in the colonic mucosa, whereas adenomas and carcinomas characterized the endpoints of tumor development. DMH-treatment led initially to significantly more ACF in IGF-II transgenic than in wild-type mice. This increase in ACF was especially prominent for those consisting of ≥three aberrant crypts (AC). Nevertheless, adenomas and adenocarcinomas of the colon, present after 34 weeks in both genetic groups, were not found at different frequency. Tumor volumes, however, were significantly higher in IGF-II transgenic mice and correlated with serum IGF-II levels. Immunohistochemical staining for markers of proliferation and apoptosis revealed increased cell proliferation rates in tumors of IGF-II transgenic mice without significant affection of apoptosis. Increased proliferation was accompanied by elevated localization of β-catenin in the cytosol and cell nuclei and reduced appearance at the inner plasma membrane. In conclusion, we provide evidence that IGF-II, via activation of the β-catenin signaling cascade, promotes growth of ACF and tumors without affecting tumor numbers.
doi:10.1186/1477-3163-5-24
PMCID: PMC1660565  PMID: 17118177
20.  Igf2 ligand dependency of Pten+/− developmental and tumour phenotypes in the mouse 
Oncogene  2011;31(31):3635-3646.
The tumour suppressor PTEN is a key negative regulator of the PI3K-Akt pathway, and is frequently either reduced or lost in human tumours. Murine genetic studies have confirmed that reduction of Pten promotes tumourigenesis in multiple organs, and demonstrated dependency of tumour development on the activation of downstream components such as Akt. Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) act via IGF1R to activate the PI3K-Akt pathway, and are commonly upregulated in cancer. A context-dependent interplay between IGFs and PTEN exists in normal tissue and tumours; increased IGF2 ligand supply induces Pten expression creating an autoregulatory negative feedback loop, whereas complete loss of PTEN may either cooperate with IGF overexpression in tumour promotion, or result in desensitisation to IGF ligand. However, it remains unknown whether neoplasia associated with Pten loss is dependent on upstream IGF ligand supply in vivo. We evaluated this by generation of Pten+/− mice with differing allelic dosage of Igf2, an imprinted gene encoding the potent embryonic and tumour growth factor Igf2. We show that biallelic Igf2 supply potentiates a previously unreported Pten+/− placental phenotype and results in strain-dependent cardiac hyperplasia and neonatal lethality. Importantly, we also show that the effects of Pten loss in vivo are modified by Igf2 supply, as lack of Igf2 results in extended survival and delayed tumour development while biallelic supply is associated with reduced lifespan and accelerated neoplasia in females. Furthermore, we demonstrate that reduction of PTEN protein to heterozygote levels in human MCF7 cells is associated with increased proliferation in response to IGF2, and does not result in desensitisation to IGF2 signalling. These data indicate that the effects of Pten loss at heterozygote levels commonly observed in human tumours are modified by Igf2 ligand, and emphasise the importance of the evaluation of upstream pathways in tumours with Pten loss.
doi:10.1038/onc.2011.526
PMCID: PMC3419984  PMID: 22120709
PTEN; IGF2; Cowden syndrome; imprinting; placenta; mammary gland
21.  Developmental stage determines estrogen receptor alpha expression and non-genomic mechanisms that control IGF-1 signaling and mammary proliferation in mice 
Insulin like growth factor–1 (IGF-1) stimulates increased proliferation and survival of mammary epithelial cells and also promotes mammary tumorigenesis. To study the effects of IGF-1 on the mammary gland in vivo, we used BK5.IGF-1 transgenic (Tg) mice. In these mice, IGF-1 overexpression is controlled by the bovine keratin 5 promoter and recapitulates the paracrine exposure of breast epithelium to stromal IGF-1 that is seen in women. Studies have shown that BK5.IGF-1 Tg mice are more susceptible to mammary tumorigenesis than wild-type littermates. Investigation of the mechanisms underlying increased mammary cancer risk, reported here, revealed that IGF-1 preferentially activated the PI3K/Akt pathway in glands from prepubertal Tg mice, resulting in increased cyclin D1 expression and hyperplasia. However, in glands from postpubertal Tg mice, a pathway switch occurred and activation of the Ras/Raf/MAPK pathway predominated, without increased cyclin D1 expression or proliferation. We further showed that in prepubertal Tg glands, signaling was mediated by formation of an ERα/IRS-1 complex, which activated IRS-1 and directed signaling via the PI3K/Akt pathway. Conversely, in postpubertal Tg glands, reduced ERα expression failed to stimulate formation of the ERα/IRS-1 complex, allowing signaling to proceed via the alternate Ras/Raf/MAPK pathway. These in vivo data demonstrate that changes in ERα expression at different stages of development direct IGF-1 signaling and the resulting tissue responses. As ERα levels are elevated during the prepubertal and postmenopausal stages, these may represent windows of susceptibility during which increased IGF-1 exposure maximally enhances breast cancer risk.
doi:10.1172/JCI42204
PMCID: PMC3248275  PMID: 22182837
22.  GH Dysfunction in Engrailed-2 Knockout Mice, a Model for Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling promotes brain development and plasticity. Altered IGF-1 expression has been associated to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). IGF-1 levels were found increased in the blood and decreased in the cerebrospinal fluid of ASD children. Accordingly, IGF-1 treatment can rescue behavioral deficits in mouse models of ASD, and IGF-1 trials have been proposed for ASD children. IGF-1 is mainly synthesized in the liver, and its synthesis is dependent on growth hormone (GH) produced in the pituitary gland. GH also modulates cognitive functions, and altered levels of GH have been detected in ASD patients. Here, we analyzed the expression of GH, IGF-1, their receptors, and regulatory hormones in the neuroendocrine system of adult male mice lacking the homeobox transcription factor Engrailed-2 (En2−/− mice). En2−/− mice display ASD-like behaviors (social interactions, defective spatial learning, increased seizure susceptibility) accompanied by relevant neuropathological changes (loss of cerebellar and forebrain inhibitory neurons). Recent studies showed that En2 modulates IGF-1 activity during postnatal cerebellar development. We found that GH mRNA expression was markedly deregulated throughout the neuroendocrine axis in En2−/− mice, as compared to wild-type controls. In mutant mice, GH mRNA levels were significantly increased in the pituitary gland, blood, and liver, whereas decreased levels were detected in the hippocampus. These changes were paralleled by decreased levels of GH protein in the hippocampus but not other tissues of En2−/− mice. IGF-1 mRNA was significantly up-regulated in the liver and down-regulated in the En2−/− hippocampus, but no differences were detected in the levels of IGF-1 protein between the two genotypes. Our data strengthen the notion that altered GH levels in the hippocampus may be involved in learning disabilities associated to ASD.
doi:10.3389/fped.2014.00092
PMCID: PMC4150208  PMID: 25225635
autism spectrum disorders; hippocampus; pituitary gland; liver; growth hormone; insulin-like growth factor; neuroendocrine axis; mouse model
23.  Insulin-like growth factor family and combined antisense approach in therapy of lung carcinoma. 
Molecular Medicine  2002;8(3):149-157.
BACKGROUND: Perturbation in a level of any peptide from insulin-like growth factor (IGF) family (ligands, receptors, and binding proteins) seems to be implicated in lung cancer formation; IGF ligands and IGF-I receptor through their mitogenic and anti-apoptotic action, and the mannose 6-phosphate/insulin-like growth factor II receptor (M6-P/IGF-IIR) possibly as a tumor suppressor. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To determine the identity, role, and mutual relationship of IGFs in lung cancer growth and maintenance, we examined IGF's gene (by RT-PCR) and protein (by immunohistochemistry) expression in 69 human lung carcinoma tissues. We also examined IGF-I receptor numbers (Scatchard analysis) and IGF-II production and release (by Western blot) in IGF-II/IGF-IR mRNA positive and negative lung carcinomas. Finally, the potential role of IGF-IR and IGF-II as growth promoting factors in lung cancer was studied using antisense oligodeoxynucleotides that specifically inhibit IGF-IR and IGF-II mRNA. RESULTS: Thirty-two tumors were positive for IGF-I, 39 for IGF-II, 48 for IGF-IR, and 35 for IGFBP-4 mRNA. Seventeen tumors were concomitantly positive for all four IGFs, whereas 34 were positive for IGF-II, IGF-IR, and IGFBP-4 mRNA. An elevated amount of IGF-II peptide was secreted into the growth medium of cell cultures established from five different IGF-II/IGF-IR mRNA positive lung cancer tissues. The cells also expressed elevated numbers of IGF-IR. Nine IGF-II-negative and 19 IGF-II-positive lung cancers of different stages were selected, and M6-P/ IGF-II receptor was determined immunohistochemically. Most of the IGF-II-negative tumors were strongly positive for M6-P/IGF-IIR. IGF-II-positive tumors were mostly negative for M6-P/IGF-II receptors. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides to IGF-II significantly inhibited, by 25-60%, the in vitro growth of all six lung cancer cell lines. However, the best results (growth inhibition of up to 80%) were achieved with concomitant antisense treatment (to IGF-IR and IGF-II). CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that lung cancer cells produce IGF-IR and IGF-II, which in turn stimulates their proliferation by autocrine mechanism. Cancer cell proliferation can be abrogated or alleviated by blocking the mRNA activity of these genes indicating that an antisense approach may represent an effective and practical cancer gene therapy strategy.
PMCID: PMC2039980  PMID: 12142546
24.  Novel Nuclear Localization and Potential Function of Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Receptor/Insulin Receptor Hybrid in Corneal Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42483.
Background
Type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R) and insulin receptor (INSR) are highly homologous molecules, which can heterodimerize to form an IGF-1R/INSR hybrid (Hybrid-R). The presence and biological significance of the Hybrid-R in human corneal epithelium has not yet been established. In addition, while nuclear localization of IGF-1R was recently reported in cancer cells and human corneal epithelial cells, the function and profile of nuclear IGF-1R is unknown. In this study, we characterized the nuclear localization and function of the Hybrid-R and the role of IGF-1/IGF-1R and Hybrid-R signaling in the human corneal epithelium.
Methodology/Principle Findings
IGF-1-mediated signaling and cell growth were examined in a human telomerized corneal epithelial (hTCEpi) cell line using co-immunoprecipitation, immunoblotting and cell proliferation assays. The presence of Hybrid-R in hTCEpi and primary cultured human corneal epithelial cells was confirmed by immunofluorescence and reciprocal immunoprecipitation of whole cell lysates. We found that IGF-1 stimulated Akt and promoted cell growth through IGF-1R activation, which was independent of the Hybrid-R. The presence of Hybrid-R, but not IGF-1R/IGF-1R, was detected in nuclear extracts. Knockdown of INSR by small interfering RNA resulted in depletion of the INSR/INSR and preferential formation of Hybrid-R. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation sequencing assay with anti-IGF-1R or anti-INSR was subsequently performed to identify potential genomic targets responsible for critical homeostatic regulatory pathways.
Conclusion/Significance
In contrast to previous reports on nuclear localized IGF-1R, this is the first report identifying the nuclear localization of Hybrid-R in an epithelial cell line. The identification of a nuclear Hybrid-R and novel genomic targets suggests that IGF-1R traffics to the nucleus as an IGF-1R/INSR heterotetrameric complex to regulate corneal epithelial homeostatic pathways. The development of novel therapeutic strategies designed to target the IGF-1/IGF-1R pathway must take into account the modulatory roles IGF-1R/INSR play in the epithelial cell nucleus.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042483
PMCID: PMC3411736  PMID: 22879999
25.  Elevated insulin signaling disrupts the growth and differentiation pattern of the mouse lens 
Molecular Vision  2007;13:397-407.
Purpose
Insulin and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) are putative regulators of cell proliferation and differentiation during lens development. Transgenic mice that overexpress IGF-1 in the lens have been previously described. To further understand the ocular functions of this growth factor family, the in vivo effects of insulin expression on lens development were investigated using transgenic mice.
Methods
Expression of insulin receptor (IR) and IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) in mouse lens was examined by reverse-transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and in situ hybridization. Transgenic mice that overexpress insulin in the lens were generated using two different promoters: a fiber-cell specific αA-crystallin (αA) promoter and a modified αA-promoter linked to the chicken δ1-crystallin enhancer (called the δenαA promoter). The δenαA promoter is active in both lens epithelial and fiber cells. The lens phenotypes were analyzed by histology and immunohistochemistry. Protein expression was examined by western blotting.
Results
Normal mouse lenses express both the insulin receptor (IR) and the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R), and their expression is highest at the lens periphery where the germinative and transitional zones are located. In transgenic mice, insulin expression in the lens induced cataract formation. The severity of the cataracts reflected the level of transgene expression, independent of the type of promoter used. In severely affected families, the spherical shape of the lens was altered and the lenses were smaller than normal. Histological analysis showed no evidence of premature differentiation of the anterior epithelial cells. In contrast to the IGF-1 mice, insulin transgenic mice exhibited an anterior shift in the location of the germinative and transitional zones, leading to a reduction of the lens epithelial compartment. Additional alterations included expansion of the lens transitional zone, variable nuclear positioning in the lens bow region, and inhibition of fiber cell denucleation and terminal differentiation.
Conclusions
Elevated intraocular insulin does not enhance proliferation nor induce differentiation of mouse lens epithelial cells. Since an increase in IGF-1 causes a posterior shift of the lens geminative and transitional zones, while an increase in insulin causes an anterior shift of these zones, our results suggest that these two growth factors may work together to control the location of this structural domain during normal lens development. Our data also suggest that increased insulin-signaling activity in the lens can antagonize the endogenous signals that are responsible for fiber cell maturation and terminal differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2642934  PMID: 17417601

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