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ALK7 expression is specific for adipose tissue, reduced in obesity and correlates to factors implicated in metabolic disease.
ABSTRACT: Human adipose tissue is a major site of expression of inhibin beta B (INHBB) which homodimerizes to form the novel adipokine activin B. Our aim was to determine if molecules needed for a local action of activin B are expressed in adipose tissue. Microarray analysis showed that adipose tissue expressed activin type I and II receptors and that the expression of activin receptor-like kinase 7 (ALK7) was adipose tissue specific. In obesity discordant siblings from the SOS Sib Pair study, adipose tissue ALK7 expression was higher in lean (n=90) compared to obese (n=90) subjects (p=4 x 10(-31)). Adipose tissue ALK7 expression correlated with several measures of body fat, carbohydrate metabolism and lipids. In addition, ALK7 and INHBB expression correlated but only in lean subjects and in subjects with normal glucose tolerance. We conclude that activin B may have local effects in adipose tissue and thereby influence obesity and its comorbidities.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: Obesity is an enormous burden for patients and health systems world-wide. Brown adipose tissue dissipates energy in response to cold and has been shown to be metabolically active in human adults. The type I transforming growth factor ? (TGF?) receptor Activin receptor-like kinase 7 (Alk7) is highly expressed in adipose tissues and is down-regulated in obese patients. Here, we studied the function of Alk7 in brown adipocytes. METHODS: Using pharmacological and genetic tools, Alk7 signaling pathway and its effects were studied in murine brown adipocytes. Brown adipocyte differentiation and activation was analyzed. RESULTS: Alk7 is highly upregulated during differentiation of brown adipocytes. Interestingly, Alk7 expression is increased by cGMP/protein kinase G (PKG) signaling, which enhances brown adipocyte differentiation. Activin AB effectively activates Alk7 and SMAD3 signaling. Activation of Alk7 in brown preadipocytes suppresses the master adipogenic transcription factor PPAR? and differentiation. Stimulation of Alk7 during late differentiation of brown adipocytes reduces lipid content and adipogenic marker expression but enhances UCP1 expression. CONCLUSIONS: We found a so far unknown crosstalk between cGMP and Alk7 signaling pathways. Tight regulation of Alk7 is required for efficient differentiation of brown adipocytes. Alk7 has differential effects on adipogenic differentiation and the development of the thermogenic program in brown adipocytes.
Project description:Adaptation to nutrient availability is crucial for survival. Upon nutritional stress, such as during prolonged fasting or cold exposure, organisms need to balance the feeding of tissues and the maintenance of body temperature. The mechanisms that regulate the adaptation of brown adipose tissue (BAT), a key organ for non-shivering thermogenesis, to variations in nutritional state are not known. Here we report that specific deletion of the activin receptor ALK7 in BAT resulted in fasting-induced hypothermia due to exaggerated catabolic activity in brown adipocytes. After overnight fasting, BAT lacking ALK7 showed increased expression of genes responsive to nutrient stress, including the upstream regulator KLF15, aminoacid catabolizing enzymes, notably proline dehydrogenase (POX), and adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), as well as markedly reduced lipid droplet size. In agreement with this, ligand stimulation of ALK7 suppressed POX and KLF15 expression in both mouse and human brown adipocytes. Treatment of mutant mice with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486 restored KLF15 and POX expression levels in mutant BAT, suggesting that loss of BAT ALK7 results in excessive activation of glucocorticoid signaling upon fasting. These results reveal a novel signaling pathway downstream of ALK7 which regulates the adaptation of BAT to nutrient availability by limiting nutrient stress-induced overactivation of catabolic responses in brown adipocytes.
Project description:Obesity is associated with blunted ?-adrenoreceptor (?-AR)-mediated lipolysis and lipid oxidation in adipose tissue, but the mechanisms linking nutrient overload to catecholamine resistance are poorly understood. We report that targeted disruption of TGF-? superfamily receptor ALK7 alleviates diet-induced catecholamine resistance in adipose tissue, thereby reducing obesity in mice. Global and fat-specific Alk7 knock-out enhanced adipose ?-AR expression, ?-adrenergic signaling, mitochondrial biogenesis, lipid oxidation, and lipolysis under a high fat diet, leading to elevated energy expenditure, decreased fat mass, and resistance to diet-induced obesity. Conversely, activation of ALK7 reduced ?-AR-mediated signaling and lipolysis cell-autonomously in both mouse and human adipocytes. Acute inhibition of ALK7 in adult mice by a chemical-genetic approach reduced diet-induced weight gain, fat accumulation, and adipocyte size, and enhanced adipocyte lipolysis and ?-adrenergic signaling. We propose that ALK7 signaling contributes to diet-induced catecholamine resistance in adipose tissue, and suggest that ALK7 inhibitors may have therapeutic value in human obesity.
Project description:All major cell types in pancreatic islets express the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta superfamily receptor ALK7, but the physiological function of this receptor has been unknown. Mutant mice lacking ALK7 showed normal pancreas organogenesis but developed an age-dependent syndrome involving progressive hyperinsulinemia, reduced insulin sensitivity, liver steatosis, impaired glucose tolerance, and islet enlargement. Hyperinsulinemia preceded the development of any other defect, indicating that this may be one primary consequence of the lack of ALK7. In agreement with this, mutant islets showed enhanced insulin secretion under sustained glucose stimulation, indicating that ALK7 negatively regulates glucose-stimulated insulin release in beta-cells. Glucose increased expression of ALK7 and its ligand activin B in islets, but decreased that of activin A, which does not signal through ALK7. The two activins had opposite effects on Ca(2+) signaling in islet cells, with activin A increasing, but activin B decreasing, glucose-stimulated Ca(2+) influx. On its own, activin B had no effect on WT cells, but stimulated Ca(2+) influx in cells lacking ALK7. In accordance with this, mutant mice lacking activin B showed hyperinsulinemia comparable with that of Alk7(-/-) mice, but double mutants showed no additive effects, suggesting that ALK7 and activin B function in a common pathway to regulate insulin secretion. These findings uncover an unexpected antagonism between activins A and B in the control of Ca(2+) signaling in beta-cells. We propose that ALK7 plays an important role in regulating the functional plasticity of pancreatic islets, negatively affecting beta-cell function by mediating the effects of activin B on Ca(2+) signaling.
Project description:We aimed to investigate the role of activin receptor-like kinase (ALK7) in regulating cardiac electrophysiology. Here, we showed that Alk7-/- mice exhibited prolonged QT intervals in telemetry ECG recordings. Furthermore, Langendorff-perfused Alk7-/- hearts had significantly longer action potential duration (APD) and greater incidence of ventricular arrhythmia (AV) induced by burst pacing. Using whole-cell patch clamp, we found that the densities of repolarizing K+ currents Ito and IK1 were profoundly reduced in Alk7-/- ventricular cardiomyocytes. Mechanistically, the expression of Kv4.2 (a major subunit of Ito carrying channel) and KCHIP2 (a key accessory subunit of Ito carrying channel), was markedly decreased in Alk7-/- hearts. These findings suggest that endogenous expression of ALK7 is necessary to maintain repolarizing K+ currents in ventricular cardiomyocytes, and finally prevent action potential prolongation and ventricular arrhythmia.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Activin receptor-like kinase 7 (ALK7) is a type I receptor for the TGF-? superfamily and has recently been demonstrated to play an important role in the maintenance of metabolic homeostasis. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association of the ALK7 gene polymorphism with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and cardiovascular remodeling in MetS patients. METHODS: The single nucleotide polymorphism rs13010956 in the ALK7 gene was genotyped in 351 Chinese subjects undergoing carotid and cardiac ultrasonography. The associations of the ALK7 gene polymorphism with the MetS phenotype, MetS parameters, and cardiovascular ultrasonic features were analyzed. RESULTS: The rs13010956 polymorphism in the ALK7 gene was found to be significantly associated with the MetS phenotype in females (p < 0.05) and was also significantly associated with blood pressure in the total (p < 0.05) and female populations (p < 0.01). Further analysis revealed that rs13010956 was associated with mean intima-media thickness of the carotid arteries in females (p < 0.05). After control for body mass index, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, and triglycerides, rs13010956 was also found to be significantly associated with left ventricular mass index in the total (p < 0.05) and female populations (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: Our findings suggested that the ALK7 gene polymorphism rs13010956 was significantly associated with MetS risk in females and may be involved in cardiovascular remodeling in MetS patients.
Project description:Nodal proteins have crucial roles in mesendoderm formation and left-right patterning during vertebrate development. The molecular mechanisms of signal transduction by Nodal and related ligands, however, are not fully understood. In this paper, we present biochemical and functional evidence that the orphan type I serine/threonine kinase receptor ALK7 acts as a receptor for mouse Nodal and Xenopus Nodal-related 1 (Xnr1). Receptor reconstitution experiments indicate that ALK7 collaborates with ActRIIB to confer responsiveness to Xnr1 and Nodal. Both receptors can independently bind Xnr1. In addition, Cripto, an extracellular protein genetically implicated in Nodal signaling, can independently interact with both Xnr1 and ALK7, and its expression greatly enhances the ability of ALK7 and ActRIIB to respond to Nodal ligands. The Activin receptor ALK4 is also able to mediate Nodal signaling but only in the presence of Cripto, with which it can also interact directly. A constitutively activated form of ALK7 mimics the mesendoderm-inducing activity of Xnr1 in Xenopus embryos, whereas a dominant-negative ALK7 specifically blocks the activities of Nodal and Xnr1 but has little effect on other related ligands. In contrast, a dominant-negative ALK4 blocks all mesoderm-inducing ligands tested, including Nodal, Xnr1, Xnr2, Xnr4, and Activin. In agreement with a role in Nodal signaling, ALK7 mRNA is localized to the ectodermal and organizer regions of Xenopus gastrula embryos and is expressed during early stages of mouse embryonic development. Therefore, our results indicate that both ALK4 and ALK7 can mediate signal transduction by Nodal proteins, although ALK7 appears to be a receptor more specifically dedicated to Nodal signaling.
Project description:Growth of white adipose tissue takes place in normal development and in obesity. A pool of adipose progenitors is responsible for the formation of new adipocytes and for the potential of this tissue to expand in response to chronic energy overload. However, factors controlling self-renewal of human adipose progenitors are largely unknown. We investigated the expression profile and the role of activin A in this process.Expression of INHBA/activin A was investigated in three types of human adipose progenitors. We then analyzed at the molecular level the function of activin A during human adipogenesis. We finally investigated the status of activin A in adipose tissues of lean and obese subjects and analyzed macrophage-induced regulation of its expression.INHBA/activin A is expressed by adipose progenitors from various fat depots, and its expression dramatically decreases as progenitors differentiate into adipocytes. Activin A regulates the number of undifferentiated progenitors. Sustained activation or inhibition of the activin A pathway impairs or promotes, respectively, adipocyte differentiation via the C/EBP?-LAP and Smad2 pathway in an autocrine/paracrine manner. Activin A is expressed at higher levels in adipose tissue of obese patients compared with the expression levels in lean subjects. Indeed, activin A levels in adipose progenitors are dramatically increased by factors secreted by macrophages derived from obese adipose tissue.Altogether, our data show that activin A plays a significant role in human adipogenesis. We propose a model in which macrophages that are located in adipose tissue regulate adipose progenitor self-renewal through activin A.
Project description:We previously identified a quantitative trait locus for adiposity, non-insulin-dependent diabetes 5 (Nidd5), on mouse chromosome 2. In the current study, we identified the actual genetic alteration at Nidd5 as a nonsense mutation of the Acvr1c gene encoding activin receptor-like kinase 7 (ALK7), one of the type I transforming growth factor-? receptors, which results in a COOH-terminal deletion of the kinase domain. We further showed that the ALK7 dysfunction causes increased lipolysis in adipocytes and leads to decreased fat accumulation. Conversely, ALK7 activation inhibits lipolysis by suppressing the expression of adipose lipases. ALK7 and activated Smads repress those lipases by downregulating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ? (PPAR?) and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) ?. Although PPAR? and C/EBP? act as adipogenic transcription factors during adipocyte differentiation, they are lipolytic in sum in differentiated adipocytes and are downregulated by ALK7 in obesity to accumulate fat. Under the obese state, ALK7 deficiency improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity by preferentially increasing fat combustion in mice. These findings have uncovered a net lipolytic function of PPAR? and C/EBP? in differentiated adipocytes and point to the ALK7-signaling pathway that is activated in obesity as a potential target of medical intervention.
Project description:Activin B, a homodimer of inhibin beta b (INHBB), is a multifunctional cytokine belonging to the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family. However, the molecular functions and clinical relevance of activin B have not been determined in oral cancer. We investigated the critical roles of activin B in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). We performed quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry to study INHBB expression in OSCC-derived cell lines and OSCC clinical samples. The INHBB expression levels were significantly (P < 0.05) overexpressed in OSCCs compared to normal counterparts in vitro and in vivo. Activin B-positivity in OSCC cases was significantly (P < 0.05) correlated with regional lymph node metastasis. The INHBB knockdown (shINHBB) cells promoted cellular adhesion and suppression of cellular invasiveness and migration. After treatment of shINHBB cells with activin B, those activities were restored similar to the shMock cells. In the processes of invasiveness and metastasis, the cells cause epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). TGF-β and its family members are promoters of the EMT process. To investigate whether activin B is related to EMT, we examined the expressions of EMT-related genes and found that INHBB was related closely to EMT. Our results suggested for the first time that activin B indicates tumoral metastasis in OSCCs and might be a useful biomarker for OSCC metastasis.