A re-examination of the Ghrelin and Ghrelin receptor genes

Seim, Inge (2009) A re-examination of the Ghrelin and Ghrelin receptor genes. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The last few years have seen dramatic advances in genomics, including the discovery of a large number of non-coding and antisense transcripts. This has revolutionised our understanding of multifaceted transcript structures found within gene loci and their roles in the regulation of development, neurogenesis and other complex processes. The recent and continuing surge of knowledge has prompted researchers to reassess and further dissect gene loci. The ghrelin gene (GHRL) gives rise to preproghrelin, which in turn produces ghrelin, a 28 amino acid peptide hormone that acts via the ghrelin receptor (growth hormone secretagogue receptor/GHSR 1a). Ghrelin has many important physiological and pathophysiological roles, including the stimulation of growth hormone (GH) release, appetite regulation, and cancer development. A truncated receptor splice variant, GHSR 1b, does not bind ghrelin, but dimerises with GHSR 1a, and may act as a dominant negative receptor. The gene products of ghrelin and its receptor are frequently overexpressed in human cancer While it is well known that the ghrelin axis (ghrelin and its receptor) plays a range of important functional roles, little is known about the molecular structure and regulation of the ghrelin gene (GHRL) and ghrelin receptor gene (GHSR). This thesis reports the re-annotation of the ghrelin gene, discovery of alternative 5’ exons and transcription start sites, as well as the description of a number of novel splice variants, including isoforms with a putative signal peptide. We also describe the discovery and characterisation of a ghrelin antisense gene (GHRLOS), and the discovery and expression of a ghrelin receptor (growth hormone secretagogue receptor/GHSR) antisense gene (GHSR-OS). We have identified numerous ghrelin-derived transcripts, including variants with extended 5' untranslated regions and putative secreted obestatin and C-ghrelin transcripts. These transcripts initiate from novel first exons, exon -1, exon 0 and a 5' extended 1, with multiple transcription start sites. We used comparative genomics to identify, and RT-PCR to experimentally verify, that the proximal exon 0 and 5' extended exon 1 are transcribed in the mouse ghrelin gene, which suggests the mouse and human proximal first exon architecture is conserved. We have identified numerous novel antisense transcripts in the ghrelin locus. A candidate non-coding endogenous natural antisense gene (GHRLOS) was cloned and demonstrates very low expression levels in the stomach and high levels in the thymus, testis and brain - all major tissues of non-coding RNA expression. Next, we examined if transcription occurs in the antisense orientation to the ghrelin receptor gene, GHSR. A novel gene (GHSR-OS) on the opposite strand of intron 1 of the GHSR gene was identified and characterised using strand-specific RT-PCR and rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE). GHSR-OS is differentially expressed and a candidate non-coding RNA gene. In summary, this study has characterised the ghrelin and ghrelin receptor loci and demonstrated natural antisense transcripts to ghrelin and its receptor. Our preliminary work shows that the ghrelin axis generates a broad and complex transcriptional repertoire. This study provides the basis for detailed functional studies of the the ghrelin and GHSR loci and future studies will be needed to further unravel the function, diagnostic and therapeutic potential of the ghrelin axis.

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ID Code: 29171
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Chopin, Lisa & Herington, Adrian
Keywords: Ghrelin, GHRL, growth hormone secretagogue receptor, GHSR, gene, non-coding RNA, ncRNA, natural antisense transcript, cis-NAT, alternative splicing, splice variant, GHRLOS, GHSR-OS, genome, orthologue, comparative genomics
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 08 Dec 2009 02:01
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:54

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