INTRODUCTION: The Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor (CNTF) is a pluripotent cytokine with anorexigenic actions in the hypothalamus that improves insulin sensitivity, increases energy expenditure and induces weight loss. Since CNTF also has an established myotrophic role, we sought to examine whether skeletal muscle contributes to the CNTF-induced metabolic improvement and identify the molecular mechanisms mediating these effects. METHODS: We used a mouse model of diet-induced obesity, to which high or low CNTF doses were administered for 7days. Whole transcriptome expression levels were analyzed in dissected soleus muscles using microarrays and data were then confirmed using qRT-PCR. RESULTS: We demonstrate that CNTF administration significantly downregulates leptin, while it upregulates follistatin and Pak1; a molecule associated with insulin sensitization in skeletal muscle. A significant overexpression of muscle differentiation related genes and downregulation of established atrophy mediators was observed. CONCLUSIONS: The overall gene expression changes suggest an indirect, beneficial effect of CNTF on metabolism, energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity, exerted by the pronounced stimulation of muscle growth, with similarities to the described effect of follistatin and the activation of the Akt pathway in skeletal muscle.
Although its involvement in prion replication and neurotoxicity during transmissible spongiform encephalopathies is undisputed, the physiological role of the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) remains enigmatic. A plethora of functions have been ascribed to PrP(C) based on phenotypes of Prnp(-/-) mice. However, all currently available Prnp(-/-) lines were generated in embryonic stem cells from the 129 strain of the laboratory mouse and mostly crossed to non-129 strains. Therefore, Prnp-linked loci polymorphic between 129 and the backcrossing strain resulted in systematic genetic confounders and led to erroneous conclusions. We used TALEN-mediated genome editing in fertilized mouse oocytes to create the Zurich-3 (ZH3) Prnp-ablated allele on a pure C57BL/6J genetic background. Genomic, transcriptional, and phenotypic characterization of Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) mice failed to identify phenotypes previously described in non-co-isogenic Prnp(-/-) mice. However, aged Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) mice developed a chronic demyelinating peripheral neuropathy, confirming the crucial involvement of PrP(C) in peripheral myelin maintenance. This new line represents a rigorous genetic resource for studying the role of PrP(C) in physiology and disease.
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