Desensitisation of the Pituitary Vasopressin Receptor: Development and Use of a Stably-Transfected Model Cell System to Assess the Role of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinases
Thesis DisciplineCellular and Molecular Biology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Stress impacts upon all organisms and a robust stress response is required for adaptive interactions of the organism with the environment. In most higher organisms, an individual’s response to stress is mediated by the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. Inappropriate regulation of this axis can cause debilitating mental health disorders including depression and anxiety. These disorders can affect an individual’s ability to interact and respond appropriately as different situations arise. An important component of this axis is the vasopressin V1b receptor (V1bR), which mediates adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) secretion from the anterior pituitary in response to stimulation by arginine vasopressin (AVP). AVP also potentiates the ACTH secretion mediated by corticotropin-releasing hormone type 1 receptor (CRH-R1) in response to corticotropin- releasing hormone (CRH) stimulation. Both the V1bR and CRH-R1 are G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). A common feature of GPCR signalling is desensitisation of the response following prolonged or repeated exposure to an agonist. Phosphorylation of the receptor is one of the mechanisms of desensitisation. This directly, or indirectly, results in rapid and reversible uncoupling of the receptor from its heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide binding protein (G-protein). Previous research has shown that G protein coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) are key phosphorylators involved in the molecular mechanism of GPCR desensitisation. One of the mains goals of the research carried out in the Mason laboratory is to examine the molecular mechanisms of V1bR desensitisation. The current short term aim is to examine the potential role for GRKs in this mechanism. It is difficult to study a single receptor type and the molecular mechanisms involved in its regulation in a system larger than a cell based assay. As the proposed method of assessing the involvement of GRKs in desensitisation of the V1bR is to use RNA interference (RNAi) to knock down the expression of the GRKs, primary cell cultures of pituitary corticotrophs are an inappropriate choice. This is due to a number of factors, including the difficulty involved in transfecting primary cells, and the difficulty involved in interpreting the results from primary cell culture experiments as these cultures are composed heterogenous population of cells. Therefore, the main aim of this research was to develop a model cell system from an immortalised cell line, stably-transfected with the V1bR, in which the involvement of GRKs in the molecular mechanism of V1bR desensitisation could be studied. Development of stably-transfected cell lines requires substantial preliminary work and planning in order to produce a successful outcome. Once developed, characterisation of the clonal cell lines is required. The preliminary work involved determining the cell proliferation rate of the parental cell line, plasmid sub-cloning and production of a large quantity of plasmid DNA, optimisation of the antibiotic selection conditions, and optimisation of the transfection protocol, as well as modification of the inositol phosphate (IP) assay protocol. The V1bR activates the phospholipase Cβ (PLCβ) second messenger signalling pathway in response to stimulation with AVP. This results in the production of IPs and therefore, measurement of IPs in response to AVP stimulation of cells labelled with myo-[³H]inositol can be used as an indicator of functional V1bR expression. In this research a total of nine clonal cell lines resistant to the antibiotic G418 were generated. Initial testing of these lines indicated that four probably expressed the V1bR and these were selected for characterisation in greater detail. All of these four lines showed significantly increased IP production in response to AVP stimulation (P<0.05; t-test). A significant decrease in IP production in response to AVP stimulation following an AVP pre-treatment was also seen with all four lines (P<0.05; t-test). Current evidence therefore suggests that the V1bR in these clonal cell lines signals and desensitises in the normal way. Although further characterisation of the clonal cell line is desirable, the data to date indicate that these lines should be considered to provide an appropriate model system for examining the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of the V1bR. It appears that there are some minor differences in signalling between the clonal cell lines and therefore this should be a consideration when deciding which line is most appropriate to use for investigating a particular question.