Peptides (v.25, #10)

Fish-derived peptides: from fish to human physiology and diseases by Kazuhiro Takahashi; Hiroshi Kawauchi (1575-1576).

Melanin-concentrating hormone signaling systems in fish by Hiroshi Kawauchi; Bridget I. Baker (1577-1584).
Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a cyclic neuropeptide synthesized as a preprohormone in the hypothalamus of all vertebrates. This neuropeptide binds to G-protein-coupled seven transmembrane receptor(s) to mediate its function. MCH was named after its function in teleosts, in which it causes aggregation or concentration of melanin granules in melanophores, thus regulating body color. The function of central MCH that has attracted most attention is its involvement in regulating food intake and energy homeostasis in mammals, a role confirmed through a series of experiments, including central administration of MCH or MCH receptor blockers, and genetic manipulation of MCH and its receptors. The aim of this article is to review the recent data on MCH and MCH receptor signaling systems in fish.
Keywords: Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH); MCH receptor (MCH-R); Gene expression; Food intake signaling; Orexigenic peptide; Melanotropic signaling; α-Melanophore stimulating hormone (α-MSH); Melanocortin;

Expression and characterization of melanin-concentrating hormone receptors on mammalian cell lines by Alex N. Eberle; Gabriele Mild; Sophie Schlumberger; Roma Drozdz; Edith Hintermann; Urs Zumsteg (1585-1595).
The neuropeptide melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is expressed in central and peripheral tissues where it participates in the complex network regulating energy homeostasis as well as in other physiologically important functions. Two MCH receptor subtypes, MCH-R1 and MCH-R2, have been cloned which signal through activation of Gi/o/q proteins and hence regulate different intracellular signals, such as inhibition of cAMP formation, stimulation of IP3 production, increase in intracellular free Ca2+ and/or activation of MAP kinases. Most of the data were obtained with cell systems heterologously expressing either of the MCH receptors. Fewer reports exist on studies with cell lines which endogenously express MCH receptors. Here, we describe human and other mammalian cell lines with which MCH receptor activation can be studied under “natural” conditions and we summarize the characteristics and signaling pathways of the MCH receptors in the different cell systems.
Keywords: MCH receptor; MCH-R1; MCH-R2; Expression; Signaling; Regulation; Biochemical analysis; Cell lines;

Properties of rat melanin-concentrating hormone receptor 1 internalization by Yumiko Saito; Mitsue Tetsuka; Yue Li; Hitoshi Kurose; Kei Maruyama (1597-1604).
Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a neuropeptide that plays an important role in several physiological processes. It activates two G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), MCH1R and MCH2R, of which MCH1R seems to be a key regulator of food intake. By using HEK293T cells stably transfected with Flag-tagged rat MCH1R, we investigated the mechanism underlying the MCH-induced internalization pathway, which is important for the desensitization or regulation of the receptor response. Quantitative analysis by flow cytometry indicated that the rate of MCH1R internalization progressed in a rapid and time-dependent manner during the first 30 min, and was partly inhibited by pretreatment with the selective protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor Go6850. Overexpression of dominant-negative β-arrestin-2 (284–409) or dynamin I-K44 A significantly prevented MCH-induced internalization of MCH1R, while overexpression of dominant-negative β-arrestin-1-V53 D had no effect. A triple-substituted mutant at Thr317, Ser325 and Thr342 to Ala residue in the C-terminus significantly prevented MCH-induced receptor internalization. Similar extents of internalization prevention were noted with the deletion mutants ΔThr342 and ΔGlu346, lacking 11 and 7 residues in the C-terminal tail, respectively. Our data suggest that MCH1R undergoes rapid MCH-induced internalization through a PKC-, β-arrestin-2- and dynamin I-dependent pathway and that a portion of the C-terminal tail plays an important role in the internalization process.
Keywords: Melanin-concentrating hormone; G protein-coupled receptor; C-terminal tail; Internalization; Phosphorylation;

Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a cyclic peptide that mediates its effects by the activation of two G-protein-coupled seven transmembrane receptors (MCHR1 and MCHR2) in humans. In contrast to its primary role in regulating skin color in fish, MCH has evolved in mammals to regulate dynamic physiological functions, from food intake and energy expenditure to behavior and emotion. Chronic infusion or transgenic expression of MCH stimulates feeding and increases adipocity, whereas targeted deletion of MCH or its receptor (MCHR1) leads to resistance to diet-induced obesity with increased energy expenditure and thermogenesis. The involvement of MCH in energy homeostasis and in brain activity has also been validated in mice treated with non-peptide antagonists, suggesting that blockade of MCHR1 could provide a viable approach for treatment of obesity and certain neurological disorders. This review focuses on emerging roles of MCH in regulating central and peripheral mechanisms.
Keywords: Melanin-concentrating hormone; Obesity; Agonist; Antagonist; Hyperphagia; Energy expenditure; Melanocyte-stimulating hormone; Anxiety;

Possible involvement of melanin-concentrating hormone in food intake in a teleost fish, barfin flounder by Akiyoshi Takahashi; Keisuke Tsuchiya; Takeshi Yamanome; Masafumi Amano; Akikazu Yasuda; Kunio Yamamori; Hiroshi Kawauchi (1613-1622).
We investigated the involvement of MCH in food intake in barfin flounder. The structure of barfin flounder MCH was determined by cDNA cloning and mass spectrometry. In fasted fish, the MCH gene expression and the number of MCH neurons in the brain were greater than controls. In white-reared fish, the MCH gene expression and the number of MCH neurons in the brain were greater than black-reared fish. Furthermore, white-reared fish grew faster than black-reared fish. These results indicate that a white background stimulated production of MCH and MCH, in turn, enhanced body growth, probably by stimulating food intake.
Keywords: Amino acid sequence; Barfin flounder; Black background; Fast; Food intake; Growth; Melanin-concentrating hormone; Nucleotide sequence; White background;

Comparative analysis of melanin-concentrating hormone structure and activity in fishes and mammals by Bruno Cardinaud; Fleur Darré-Toulemonde; Jacques Duhault; Jean A. Boutin; Jean-Louis Nahon (1623-1632).
A comparative analysis of the structure of the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) precursor reveals that this sequence has been subjected to a higher selection pressure in mammals than in teleosts, suggesting that the structural constraints have not been the same throughout the vertebrate lineage. In contrast, the MCH peptide sequence has been very well conserved in all species. A sensitive and reproducible eel skin assay was developed and allowed us to define the structural features needed for a full MCH bioactivity. It was shown that the minimal structure carrying the critical residues was the same in fishes and in mammals. A pharmacological approach confirmed that MCH receptor activation decreased the cAMP levels in the fish skin, but this effect appeared to be independent from a Gαi protein. We propose that one of the intracellular signaling pathways of the MCH receptor in fish skin is the activation of one or several cellular phosphodiesterases.
Keywords: MCH; MCH receptor; Pro-MCH gene; Pro-peptide gene evolution; MCH signaling;

Endocrine regulation in vertebrates is critical for the adaptation and regulation of homeostasis. The G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling transduction system represents one of the most ancient forms of cell surface signaling. Recently, comparative sequence analysis has aided in the identification and pairing of a variety of ligand/GPCR signaling systems. Among the ligands of type II GPCRs, the calcitonin family peptides including calcitonin, α-calcitonin gene-related peptide (αCGRP), βCGRP, adrenomedullin, and amylin are among the best studied hormones, and the founding member, calcitonin, was originally identified and isolated from teleosts. This unique group of peptides shares a conserved tertiary structure with an N-terminal disulfide-bridged ring. In mammals, these peptides signal through two closely related type II GPCRs and three unique receptor activity-modifying proteins. Recently, based on the analysis of multiple vertebrate genomes, we identified a novel calcitonin/CGRP family peptide named intermedin. Here we show that in humans the five paralogous family genes, calcitonin, CGRP, amylin, adrenomedullin, and intermedin, evolved before the emergence of modern vertebrates, and that teleost genomes carry multiple copies of these co-evolved hormone genes. Sequence comparison showed that each of these genes is highly conserved in different vertebrates and that multiple copies of these peptides in teleosts could be derived from ancient genome duplication and/or lineage-specific intragenic duplications. The present article provides an overview of the calcitonin/intermedin family peptides found in teleost and mammalian genomes, and describes their putative functions. In addition, we demonstrate that one of the intermedin orthologs deduced from the pufferfish (Fugu rubripes) genome shares a conserved signaling activity with mammalian intermedin. The combined results indicate that the physiology associated with each of these family peptides likely evolved during early vertebrate evolution and diverged to serve select physiological functions in different vertebrates.
Keywords: CGRP; Calcitonin; Adrenomedullin; Intermedin; CRLR; RAMP; Amylin;

Novel fish-derived adrenomedullin in mammals: structure and possible function by Yoshio Takei; Susumu Hyodo; Takeshi Katafuchi; Naoto Minamino (1643-1656).
Adrenomedullin (AM) has been recognized as a member of the calcitonin (CT)/CT gene-related peptide (CGRP) family. However, an independent AM family consisting of five paralogous peptides exists in teleost fish. Among them, the peptide named AM1 is an ortholog of mammalian AM as determined by the linkage analysis of orthologous genes and the presence of proAM N-terminal 20 peptide (PAMP)-like sequence in the prosegment. Since the peptides named AM2 and 3 are distinct from other members with respect to the precursor sequence, tissue distribution of the transcripts, and exon–intron organization, we searched for their mammalian orthologs from genome databases, which resulted in an identification of AM2 in human, rat, and mouse. AM2 was expressed abundantly in the submaxillary gland, kidney, and some vascular and digestive tissues of mice. AM2 injected in vivo induced potent cardiovascular and renal effects in mice. In the heart and kidney of mice, AM2 was localized in endothelial cells of the coronary vessels and in glomeruli and vasa recta, respectively. AM2 increased cAMP accumulation in cells expressing human CT receptor-like receptor (CRLR) and one of receptor activity-modifying proteins (RAMPs), but it was no more potent than CGRP and AM. AM2 was also less potent than CT in cells expressing CT receptor and RAMP. There remains a possibility that a new AM2-specific receptor or an additional RAMP that enables CRLR to be an AM2-specific receptor, exists in mammals.
Keywords: Fish adrenomedullin family; Adrenomedullin 2; Cardiovascular action; Renal action; Immunohistochemical localization; Receptor selectivity;

Stanniocalcin in terminally differentiated mammalian cells by Martina Serlachius; Ke-zhou Zhang; Leif C. Andersson (1657-1662).
Stanniocalcin (STC) is a glycoprotein hormone originally found in teleost fish, where it regulates the calcium/phosphate homeostasis, and protects the fish against toxic hypercalcemia. STC was considered an exclusive fish protein, until the cloning of cDNA for human (in 1995) and murine (in 1996) STC. We originally reported a high constitutive content of STC in mammalian brain neurons, and found that the expression of STC occurred concomitantly with terminal differentiation of neural cells. Since then, we have investigated the expression of STC in relation to terminal cell differentiation also in mammalian hematopoietic tissue, and fat tissues. In this review we summarize our findings on STC expression during postmitotic differentiation in three different cell systems; in neural cells, in megakaryocytes and in adipocytes. We also present findings, suggesting that STC plays a role for maintaining the integrity of terminally differentiated mammalian cells.
Keywords: Stanniocalcin; Terminal differentiation; Survival factor; Neurons; Megakaryocytes; Adipocytes;

Stanniocalcin 1 as a pleiotropic factor in mammals by Yuji Yoshiko; Jane E. Aubin (1663-1669).
Stanniocalcin (STC)1 is the mammalian homologue of STC which was originally identified as a calcium/phosphate-regulating hormone in bony fishes. STC1 is a homodimeric phosphoglycoprotein with few if any identified unique motifs in its structure with the exception of CAG repeats in the 5′-untranslated region. In contrast to fish STC which is expressed mainly in the corpuscles of Stannius, STC1 is expressed in a wide variety of tissues, but unexpectedly is not detected in the circulation under normal circumstances. Thus, STC1 may play an autocrine/paracrine rather than a classic endocrine role in mammals. Consistent with this, pleiotropic effects of STC1 have been postulated in physiological and measured in pathological situations. There is much current interest in identifying a specific STC1 receptor and putative signaling pathways to which it may be coupled. In this regard, STC1 may regulate intracellular calcium and/or phosphate (Pi) levels. In the skeletal system, for example, Pi uptake in bone-forming osteoblasts via a direct effect of STC1 on expression of the NaPi transporter Pit1 may contribute to bone formation. Here we review current understanding of the role of STC1 and its possible molecular mechanisms in the skeleton and elsewhere.
Keywords: Indexing terms; Stanniocalcin 1; Pleiotropic factor; Calcium influx; NaPi transport;

Evidence for stanniocalcin and a related receptor in annelids by Cherry Tanega; Dennis P. Radman; Bree Flowers; Thomas Sterba; Graham F. Wagner (1671-1679).
Stanniocalcin (STC) is a prime example of a hormone whose discovery in fish led to its subsequent discovery in mammals. STC is considered to be first and foremost a vertebrate polypeptide hormone with regulatory effects on ion transport, mitochondrial function and steroid hormone synthesis. The gene is widely expressed in both fishes and mammals, and the hormone can operate via both local and endocrine signaling pathways. In spite of the growing catalogue of vertebrate hormones and receptors with homologues in invertebrates, the notion that there might be an invertebrate STC homolog has received scant attention to date. In the present study, we have provided evidence for STC in annelid worms (freshwater leeches). Western blot analysis revealed the presence of two STC immunoreactive (STCir) proteins in leech tissue extracts of 100 and 193 kDa. These same extracts significantly lowered the rate of gill calcium transport upon injection into fish. Similarly, fish STC increased the rate of whole body calcium uptake when administered to leeches, and STC receptors of high affinity were identified on isolated leech plasma membranes. Two discrete populations of STC-positive cells were also identified in leeches using antibodies to fish STC and fish STC cRNA probes. One of the cell types was confined to the skin. The second cell type was confined to the coelomic cavity and identified as an adipose cell, which in leeches is a major repository of fat. Collectively, the data constitutes compelling evidence for the existence of STC-related proteins and receptors in annelids that share structural and functional similarities with those in vertebrates.
Keywords: Leech; Stanniocalcin; Cells; Bioassay; Receptor;

Ancient evolution of stress-regulating peptides in vertebrates by Chia Lin Chang; Sheau Yu Teddy Hsu (1681-1688).
Recent studies on genomic sequences have led to the discovery of novel corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) type 2 receptor-selective agonists, stresscopin (SCP)/urocortin III (UcnIII), and stresscopin-related peptide (SRP)/urocortin II (UcnII). In addition, analyses of vertebrate genomes showed that the CRF peptide family includes four distinct genes, CRF, urocortin/urotensin I, SCP/UcnIII, and SRP/UcnII. Each of these four genes is highly conserved during evolution and the identity between mammalian and teleost orthologs ranges from >96% for CRF to >55% for SCP. Phylogenetic studies showed that the origin of each of these peptides predates the evolution of tetrapods and teleosts, and that this family of peptide hormones evolved from an ancestor gene that developed the CRF/urocortin and SCP/SRP branches through an early gene duplication event. These two ancestral branches then gave rise to additional paralogs through a second round of gene duplication. Consequently, each of these peptides participates in the regulation of stress responses over the 550 million years of vertebrate evolution. The study also suggested that the fight-or-flight and stress-coping responses mediated mainly by CRF types 1 and 2 receptors evolved early in chordate evolution. In addition, we hypothesize that the CRF/CRF receptor signaling evolved from the same ancestors that also gave rise to the diuretic hormone/diuretic hormone receptors in insects. Thus, a complete inventory of CRF family ligands and their receptors in the genomes of different organisms provides an opportunity to reveal an integrated view of the physiology and pathophysiology of the CRF/SCP family peptides, and offers new insights into the evolution of stress regulation in vertebrates.
Keywords: CRF; Urocortin; Stresscopin; CRF receptor; Stress; Urotensin; Sauvagine; Diuretic hormone;

Physiological roles of urocortins, human homologues of fish urotensin I, and their receptors by Toshihiro Suda; Kazunori Kageyama; Satoru Sakihara; Takeshi Nigawara (1689-1701).
Urocortin 1, a human homologue of fish urotensin I, together with its related-compounds (urocortins 2 and 3), comprises a distinct family of stress peptides. Urocortin 1 has a high affinity for both corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) type 1 receptor (CRF1) and CRF type 2 receptor (CRF2), and urocortins 2 and 3 have a high affinity for CRF2, while CRF has a low affinity for CRF2 and a high affinity for CRF1. These differences of the binding affinity with receptors make the biological actions of these peptides. Besides the binding affinity with receptors, the limited overlap of the distribution of CRF and urocortins may also contribute to the differences of physiological roles of each peptide. Urocortins show ‘stress-coping’ responses such as anxiolysis and dearousal in the brain. In the periphery, recent studies show the potent effects of urocortins on the cardiovascular and immune systems. In this review article, we take a look over the series of peptides included in this family, especially in terms of the versatility of biological actions, along with the various characters of the receptors.
Keywords: Corticotropin-releasing factor; Urocortin; Stresscopin; Corticotropin-releasing factor receptor; Stress;

Effects of urocortin 2 and 3 on motor activity and food intake in rats by Hisayuki Ohata; Tamotsu Shibasaki (1703-1709).
Urocortin 2 (Ucn 2) and Ucn 3 are new members of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family and bind selectively to the CRF type 2 receptor (CRF2). The effects of these peptides on behavioral changes induced by CRF were examined in rats. In a familiar environment, intracerebroventricular injection of Ucn 2 attenuated the stimulatory effect of CRF on motor activity, although it alone produced no effect. Ucn 3 suppressed motor activity and attenuated the stimulatory effect of CRF. In an open field, CRF decreased locomotion and rearing but increased grooming behavior. Ucn 2 attenuated the inhibition of locomotor activity induced by CRF without affecting other activities, such as rearing or grooming behavior. Ucn 3 had no effect on the behavioral changes induced by CRF, although it alone decreased locomotion and rearing in a manner similar to CRF. Ucn 2 was thus found to have an antagonistic effect on bi-directional motor activation induced by CRF, while Ucn 3 had a suppressive effect on motor activity. Both Ucn 2 and Ucn 3 suppressed food intake in freely-fed rats, but not immediately after injection. These results suggest that the CRF2 receptor is involved in motor suppressive effects as well as anxiolytic and anorectic effects of Ucn 2 and Ucn 3.
Keywords: Urocortin 2; Urocortin 3; Corticotropin-releasing factor; Locomotor activity; Food intake; Open field; Anxiety;

Urocortins and corticotropin releasing factor type 2 receptors in the hypothalamus and the cardiovascular system by Kozo Hashimoto; Mitsuru Nishiyama; Yasushi Tanaka; Toru Noguchi; Koichi Asaba; Pournajafi Nazarloo Hossein; Tatsuya Nishioka; Shinya Makino (1711-1721).
In addition to urocortin (Ucn I), Ucn II and Ucn III were identified as endogenous ligands for corticotropin-releasing factor type 2 receptor (CRF2 receptor). CRF2 receptor is abundantly located in central hypothalamic ventromedial nucleus (VMH) and in peripheral cardiovascular system. In this mini-review, we focused on the roles of these urocortins and CRF2 receptor in the hypothalamus and the cardiovascular system.Ucn II mRNA was increased in the parvocellular part or the magnocellular part of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) following immobilization stress or 3 days of water deprivation, respectively. Therefore, it is thought that Ucn II may modulate CRF and vasopressin synthesis in the PVN in a paracrine or autocrine fashion through PVN CRF2 receptor.The early and later phases of Ucn I-mediated feeding suppression may be CRF1 and CRF2 receptor-mediated events, respectively. Ucn II decreases food intake at a later phase, beyond 4 h post injection. A large dose of corticosterone increased plasma leptin and insulin levels as well as the levels of CRF2 receptor mRNA. Adrenalectomy, starvation, and immobilization each lowered plasma leptin and insulin levels and were associated with decrements in CRF2 receptor mRNA levels in the VMH. Peripheral injection of leptin increased VMH CRF2 receptor mRNA, as can induce reductions of food intake and body weight, indicating that circulating leptin is involved in the regulation of VMH CRF2 receptor mRNA expression. Therefore, it is also plausible that VMH CRF2 receptor transduces the anorexogenic effects of leptin as well as those of urocortins.The systemic administration of Ucn II decreases mean arterial pressure (arterial vascular tone) and causes tachycardia via vascular CRF2 receptor in rats, similar to the effects of Ucn I. Thus, CRF2 receptor seems to mediate cardioprotective effects of urocortins.
Keywords: Urocortin I; Urocortin II; Urocortin III; CRF type 2 receptor; VMH; PVN; Stress;

Urocortins as cardiovascular peptides by Kazuhiro Takahashia ; Kazuhito Totsuneb ; Osamu Murakamic ; Shigeki Shibaharaa (1723-1731).
Urocortins (Ucn) 1, 2 and 3, human homologues of fish urotensin I, form the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family, together with CRF, urotensin I and sauvagine. Ucn 3 is a novel member of this family and is a specific ligand for CRF type 2 receptor. CRF type 2 receptor is thought to mediate the stress-coping responses, such as anxiolysis, anorexia, vasodilatation, a positive inotropic action on myocardium and dearousal. Endogenous ligands for the CRF type 2 receptor expressed in the cardiovascular tissues, such as the myocardium, have long been unknown. We have shown expression of Ucn 3 as well as Ucn 1 in the human heart. Ucn 3 is also expressed in the kidney, particularly distal tubules. Studies in various rat tissues showed that high concentrations of immunoreactive Ucn 3 were found in the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, gastrointestinal tract, ovary and spleen in addition to the brain, heart and kidney. These observations suggest that Ucn 3 is expressed in various tissues including heart and kidney, and may regulate the circulation in certain aspects of stress and diseases, such as inflammation. Ucn 1 and 3 appear to have important pathophysiological roles in some cardiovascular diseases.
Keywords: Urocortin; Stresscopin; Corticotropin-releasing factor; Stress; Heart;

Urocortins and the regulation of gastrointestinal motor function and visceral pain by Vicente Martinez; Lixin Wang; Mulugeta Million; Jean Rivier; Yvette Taché (1733-1744).
Urocortin (Ucn) 1, 2 and 3 are corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-related peptides recently characterized in mammals. Urocortin 1 binds with high affinity to CRF type 1 (CRF1) and type 2 (CRF2) receptors while Ucn 2 and Ucn 3 are selective CRF2 ligands. They also have a distinct pattern of distribution, both in the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, compatible with a role mediating, with CRF, the response to stress. In rats and mice, Ucn 1 injected centrally or peripherally inhibited gastric emptying and stimulated colonic propulsive motor function, mimicking the effects of stress or exogenous CRF. Centrally administered Ucn 2 inhibited gastric emptying with similar potency as CRF, while Ucn 1 and Ucn 3 were less potent. However, after peripheral administration, Ucn 1 and Ucn 2 were more potent than CRF. In mice, centrally administered Ucn 1 and 2 stimulated colonic motility with lower potency than CRF, and Ucn 3 was inactive. Studies with selective CRF1 and CRF2 antagonists demonstrated that the gastric-inhibitory and colonic-stimulatory effects of exogenously administered Ucns are mediated through CRF2 and CRF1 receptors, respectively. In addition, Ucn 2 showed visceral anti-nociceptive activity associated with the selective activation of CRF2 receptors. These observations suggest that, acting centrally and peripherally, Ucns might play a significant role in the modulation of gastrointestinal motor and pain responses during stress and stress-related pathophysiological conditions.
Keywords: Urocortin 1; Urocortin 2; Urocortin 3; CRF; Stresscopin; Stresscopin-related peptide; Urotensin-I; CRF receptors; CRF receptor antagonists;

Localization and physiological roles of urocortin by Yutaka Oki; Hironobu Sasano (1745-1749).
Urocortin, a 40 amino acid peptide, is a corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) related peptide, and can bind to all three types of CRF receptors (CRF type 1, type 2(a) and type 2(b) receptors) with higher affinities for these receptors than CRF. Immunoreactivity of urocortin is widely distributed in central nervous, digestive, cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and endocrine systems. Urocortin plays important roles in appetite-suppression, immunomodulation, steroidogenesis in the ovary, maintenance of the placental function, labor, and cardioprotection via CRF receptors. Although urocortin has potent adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) releasing activity in vitro, endogenous urocortin does not act on pituitary ACTH secretion in vivo.
Keywords: Urocortin; Corticotropin-releasing factor; CRF receptor;

Urocortins in human reproduction by Pasquale Florio; Wylie Vale; Felice Petraglia (1751-1757).
Data on biological effects and localization of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a neuropeptide structurally and biologically related to urocortins, have triggered the study on expression of urocortins and their function in human reproductive tissues. Ovary, endometrium, placenta and fetal membranes (amnion and chorion), myometrium, and prostate are sources of urocortin 1 and, they also express urocortin binding sites (receptors and CRF-binding protein), thus suggesting that these tissues are also targets of urocortin 1. The current concept thus is that urocortin 1 may affect the physiology of human reproduction through paracrine/autocrine actions.In particular, in vitro data have shown that urocortin 1 plays a major role in human placenta: it stimulates the secretion of ACTH, prostaglandins and activin A from cultured human placental cells, and regulates placental vessel resistance to blood flow. Furthermore, when incubated in myometrial strips, urocortins stimulate uterine contractility, by activating specific intracellular pathways. Taken together, these findings do suggest an important role of urocortins in the physiology of pregnancy and parturition.
Keywords: CRF; CRF-BP; Endometrium; Ovary; Placenta; Prostate; Pregnancy; Parturition; Receptors;

Urotensin II (UII) is a peptide that was originally isolated and characterized in fish. Interest in its effects in mammals increased with the identification of its receptor, G-protein coupled receptor 14, and its localization in humans. UII and its receptor have a wide distribution, including brain and spinal cord as well as heart, kidney and liver, implying that UII has important physiological actions. Recent studies suggest that UII may play an important role in the central nervous system. In conscious sheep, intracerebroventricular administration of UII induced large, prolonged increases in plasma epinephrine, adrenocorticotropic hormone, cardiac output and arterial pressure. Potent chronotropic and inotropic actions accompanied this, as well as peripheral vasodilatation. Administered intravenously, UII is an extremely potent vasoconstrictor in anesthetized monkeys, but reduces pressure in conscious and anesthetized rats, and causes a transient increase in conscious sheep, however vasomotor responses vary depending on species and vessel type. UII is elevated in conditions such as essential hypertension and heart failure suggesting a role in pathology. The results of studies with UII to date, together with its possible role in disease, emphasize the importance of examining the central and peripheral roles of UII in more detail.
Keywords: Urotensin II; Intracerebroventricular; Intravenous; Sheep; Epinephrine; Adrenocorticotropic hormone; Review; Inotropic; Chronotropic; Regional blood flow; Cardiac output; Hyperglycemia;

We detected urotensin-II-like immunoreactivity in the endothelium of normal human blood vessels from heart, kidney, placenta, adrenal, thyroid and umbilical cord. Immunoreactivity was also detected in endocardial endothelial and kidney epithelial cells. In atherosclerotic coronary artery, immunoreactivity localized to regions of macrophage infiltration. Urotensin-II constricted human atherosclerotic epicardial coronary arteries with pD2 = 10.58 ± 0.46 (mean ± S.E.M.) and E max = 11.4 ± 4.2% KCl and small coronary arteries with pD2 = 9.25 ± 0.38 and E max = 77 ± 16% KCl. Small coronary arteries clearly exhibited a greater maximum response to urotensin-II than epicardial vessels. This enhanced responsiveness may be of importance in heart failure, where circulating concentrations of U-II are increased, or in atherosclerosis where focally up-regulated urotensin-II production may act down stream to produce significant vasospasm, compromising blood flow to the myocardium. We conclude that urotensin-II is a locally released vasoactive mediator that may be an important regulator of blood flow particularly to the myocardium and may have a specific role in human atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery; Endothelium; Human pharmacology; Immunocytochemistry; Urotensin-II;

Role of urotensin II in peripheral tissue as an autocrine/paracrine growth factor by Takanobu Yoshimoto; Mika Matsushita; Yukio Hirata (1775-1781).
Urotensin II (UII), originally isolated from goby urophysis, has been shown to be an endogenous ligand for an orphan G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR14. Recent development of PCR quantitative method revealed that UII and UT receptor (GPR14) were expressed in a broad range of tissues and organs, including cardiovascular and renal system, and assumed to function as an autocrine/paracrine factor. UII is a potent vasoconstrictor peptide, whose potency is greater than any other vasoconstrictors thus far known. However, its physiological roles have been found to extend far beyond the regulation of vascular tone. In this review, we focused on the mitogenic action of UII and discuss its underlying cellular mechanisms and potential physiological/pathophysiological role in various human diseases.
Keywords: Urotensin II; MAP kinase; Cell proliferation; Autocrine/paracrine factor;

Cardiovascular role of urotensin II: effect of chronic infusion in the rat by Andrew R. Kompa; Walter G. Thomas; Fiona See; Alex Tzanidis; Ross D. Hannan; Henry Krum (1783-1788).
Urotensin II (UII) is a potent vaso-active peptide thought to have multiple roles in the regulation of cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology. The actions of UII are complex and difficult to interpret given its systemic hemodynamic effects and variable action on different vascular beds and isolated vessels. Direct effects of UII on the myocardium, include myocyte hypertrophy, extracellular matrix deposition and contractility. These observations, together with elevated plasma levels found in disease, are common traits reported in other pathophysiologically implicated neurohormonal systems. In this review, we include original data obtained from chronic infusion of UII in rats. We report a reduction in first derivative of left ventricular pressure (+dP/dt), as well as an increase in the ratio of left ventricular collagen I:III, that may contribute to the reduced myocardial contractility observed in these animals.
Keywords: Urotensin II; Vasoconstrictor peptide; Extracellular matrix; Hemodynamics; Ventricular function; Heart failure;

Urotensin II and cardiovascular diseases by George Thanassoulis; Thao Huyhn; Adel Giaid (1789-1794).
Urotensin II (UII) has been found to be a potent vasoactive peptide in humans and in a number of relevant animal models of cardiovascular disease such as the mouse, rat and other non-human primates. This peptide with structural homology to somatostatin was first isolated from the urophysis of fish and was recently found to bind to an orphan receptor in mouse and human. Initially found to have potent vasoconstrictive activities in a variety of vessels from diverse species, it has also been shown to exert vasodilatation in certain vessels in the rat and human by various endothelium-dependent mechanisms. The various vasoactive properties of UII suggest that the peptide may have a physiological role in maintaining vascular tone and therefore may have a role in the pathophysiology of a number of human diseases such as heart failure. Moreover, UII has also been implicated as a mitogen of vascular smooth muscle cells suggesting a deleterious role in atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. In addition, there is evidence to demonstrate that UII has multiple metabolic effects on cholesterol metabolism, glycemic control and hypertension and therefore may be implicated in the development of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.
Keywords: Vascular physiology; Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery disease; Heart failure; Metabolic syndrome.;

Urotensin II in the cardiovascular system by A. Mark Richards; Chris Charles (1795-1802).
Urotensin II is a peptide present, together with its receptor, in the central nervous system and many peripheral tissues (including heart, blood vessels, kidneys and endocrine organs) of many species. The bioactive, mature form contains a cyclic heptapeptide perfectly preserved across species spanning 550 million years of evolution Its biological activity has been explored in cultured cells, in isolated vessels from several species, in the isolated perfused heart and in intact animals and man. Initial demonstration of potent vasoconstriction and cardiac depression by the human isoform in non-human primates has been followed by a series of reports indicating potent but highly variable and generally modest vascular responses dependent on species and vascular region. In man short term cardiovascular responses to administered urotensin II are small or absent. The place of urotensin II in the chronic trophic responses to cardiac and vascular injury and its possible roles as a neurotransmitter and/or regulator of renal and endocrine function remain largely unexplored.
Keywords: Urotensin II vasoactivity; Urotensin II in isolated vessels; Urotensin administered to man;

Genetic variations at urotensin II and urotensin II receptor genes and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in Japanese by Susumu Suzuki; Zong Wenyi; Masashi Hirai; Yoshinori Hinokio; Chitose Suzuki; Takahiro Yamada; Shinsuke Yoshizumi; Michiko Suzuki; Yukio Tanizawa; Akira Matsutani; Yoshitomo Oka (1803-1808).
Urotensin II is among the most potent vasoactive hormones known and the urotensin II (UTS2) gene is localized to 1p36-p32, one of the regions reported to show possible linkage with type 2 diabetes in Japanese. When we surveyed genetic polymorphisms in the UTS2 and urotensin II receptor (GPR14) gene, we identified two SNPs with amino acid substitutions (designated T21M and S89N and an SNP in the promotor region (−605G>A) of the UTS2 gene, and two SNPs in the non-coding region of the GPR14 gene. We then studied these three SNPs in the UTS2 gene and two SNPs in the GPR14 gene in 152 Japanese subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus and two control Japanese populations. The allele frequency of 89N was significantly higher in type 2 diabetic patients than in both elderly normal subjects (P = 0.0018) and subjects with normal glucose tolerance (P = 0.0011), whereas the allele frequency of T21M and −605G>A in the UTS2 gene and those of two SNPs in the GPR14 gene were essentially identical in these three groups. Furthermore, in the subjects with normal glucose tolerance, 89N was associated with significantly higher insulin levels on oral glucose tolerance test, suggesting reduced insulin sensitivity in subjects with 89N. These results strongly suggest that subjects with S89N in the UTS2 gene are more insulin-resistant and thus more susceptible to type 2 diabetes mellitus development.
Keywords: Urotensin II; Urotensin II receptor (GPR14); Single nucleotide polymorphism; Insulin resistance; Type 2 diabetes; Normal glucose tolerance;

Elevated plasma levels of immunoreactive urotensin II and its increased urinary excretion in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus: association with progress of diabetic nephropathy by Kazuhito Totsune; Kazuhiro Takahashi; Zenei Arihara; Masahiko Sone; Osamu Murakami; Sadayoshi Ito; Masahiro Kikuya; Takayoshi Ohkubo; Junichiro Hashimoto; Yutaka Imai (1809-1814).
Urotensin II (UII) is the most potent vasoconstrictor peptide ever identified. In order to clarify the pathophysiological role of UII in diabetes mellitus, we examined plasma immunoreactive UII levels and urinary excretion of immunoreactive UII in 10 control subjects and 48 patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. The patients were divided into three groups according to the renal function: Group I with Ccr ≥ 70 ml/min, group II with 30 ≤ Ccr < 70 ml/min and group III with Ccr < 30 ml/min. Plasma immunoreactive UII levels were elevated in the three diabetic groups compared with normal controls (P < 0.05). Group III patients had significantly higher plasma immunoreactive UII levels (15.9 ± 2.2 fmol/ml, mean ± S.E.M., n = 6) by approximately 1.6-fold than did group I (10.9 ± 0.9 fmol/ml, n = 17) and group II (10.8 ± 0.8 fmol/ml, n = 25) (P < 0.05). Urinary excretion of immunoreactive UII was significantly increased in group III patients (52.4 ± 14.8 pmol/day) by more than 1.8-fold compared with control subjects, groups I and II (P < 0.005). Fractional excretion of immunoreactive UII significantly increased as renal function decreased. Presence of diabetic retinopathy or neuropathy had negligible effects on plasma immunoreactive UII levels and urinary immunoreactive UII excretion. Reverse phase HPLC analyses showed three immunoreactive peaks in normal plasma extracts and multiple immunoreactive peaks in normal urine extracts. Thus, Type 2 diabetes mellitus itself is a factor to elevate plasma immunoreactive UII levels, and accompanying renal failure is another independent factor for the increased plasma immunoreactive UII levels in Type 2 diabetic patients. Increased urinary immunoreactive UII excretion in Type 2 diabetic patients with advanced diabetic nephropathy may be due not only to the elevated plasma immunoreactive UII levels but also to increased UII production and/or decreased UII degradation in the diseased kidney.
Keywords: Urotensin II; Diabetes; Plasma; Urinary excretion; Radioimmunoassay;

Urotensin II (UII) is a piscine neuropeptide originally isolated from the teleost urophysis. The existence of UII in mammals has been demonstrated by cloning of the mammalian orthologs of UII precursor protein genes. While rat and mouse orthologs have been reported, only the tentative structures of UII peptides of these animals have been demonstrated, since prepro-UII proteins lack the typical processing sites in the amino-terminal region of the mature peptides. A novel peptide, UII-related peptide (URP), was discovered by monitoring UII-immunoreactivity in the rat brain, and its amino acid sequence was determined to be ACFWKYCV. cDNAs encoding rat, mouse, and human precursor proteins for URP were cloned and showed that the sequences of mouse and human URP peptides are identical to that for rat URP. URP was found to bind and activate the human or rat urotensin II receptors [GPR14, UT receptor (UTR)] and showed a hypotensive effect when administrated to anesthetized rats. The prepro-URP gene is expressed in several rat tissues, although with lower levels than the prepro-UII gene and, in the human, is expressed comparably to prepro-UII in several tissues except the spinal cord. These results suggest that URP is the endogenous and functional ligand for urotensin II receptor in the rat and mouse, and possibly in the human.
Keywords: Urotensin II; Urotensin II-related peptide; Ligand; GPCR; GPR14; UT receptor;

Structure–activity relationships and structural conformation of a novel urotensin II-related peptide by David Chatenet; Christophe Dubessy; Jérôme Leprince; Cédric Boularan; Ludovic Carlier; Isabelle Ségalas-Milazzo; Laure Guilhaudis; Hassan Oulyadi; Daniel Davoust; Elizabeth Scalbert; Bruno Pfeiffer; Pierre Renard; Marie-Christine Tonon; Isabelle Lihrmann; Pierre Pacaud; Hubert Vaudry (1819-1830).
Urotensin II (UII) has been described as the most potent vasoconstrictor peptide and recognized as the endogenous ligand of the orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR14. Recently, a UII-related peptide (URP) has been isolated from the rat brain and its sequence has been established as H-Ala-Cys-Phe-Trp-Lys-Tyr-Cys-Val-OH. In order to study the structure–function relationships of URP, we have synthesized a series of URP analogs and measured their binding affinity on hGPR14-transfected cells and their contractile activity in a rat aortic ring bioassay. Alanine substitution of each residue of URP significantly reduced the binding affinity and the contractile activity of the peptides, except for the Ala8-substituted analog that retained biological activity. Most importantly, d-scan of URP revealed that [d-Trp4]URP abrogated and [d-Tyr6]URP partially suppressed the UII-evoked contractile response. [Orn5]URP, which had very low agonistic efficacy, was the most potent antagonist in this series. The solution structure of URP has been determined by 1H NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics. URP exhibited a single conformation characterized by an inverse γ-turn comprising residues Trp-Lys-Tyr which plays a crucial role in the biological activity of URP. These pharmacological and structural data should prove useful for the rational design of non-peptide ligands as potential GPR14 agonists and antagonists.
Keywords: Urotensin II-related peptide; Urotensin II receptor; Solid-phase peptide synthesis; Ala-scan; d-scan; NMR; Conformational analysis; Structure–activity relationships; Ligand binding; Rat aortic ring contraction;