Bruno Varriale

Professor Applied Biology

Name Bruno
Surname Varriale
Institution Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
Address Department of Experimental Medicine, Molecular Genetics Laboratory, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Via Costantinopoli 16, 80138, Naples, Italy
Bruno Varriale


  • Autoinduction of androgen receptor mRNA in primary cultures of hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) harderian gland cells.

    Publication Date: 01/06/1996 on General and comparative endocrinology
    by Varriale B
    DOI: 10.1006/gcen.1996.0082

    The Harderian gland (hg) is a gland which occupies a large portion of the orbital cavity. In many species, a sexual dimorphism occurs, which suggests a gonadal steroid control of the hg. The present study examines, in primary cultures of hamster hg cells, the regulation of the androgen receptor mRNA (AR mRNA) expression. In dose-response experiments measuring the expression of AR mRNA, testosterone (T) (10(-12) M) induced a 1-fold increase of AR mRNA compared with unexposed cells, and this effect reached its zenith (6.2-fold) when cells were exposed to 10(-8) M T. In other experiments, cells were exposed or not to different drugs [T, T + flutamide (F), F, T + cycloheximide (Cy), Cy] for different times (up to 96 hr). These experiments showed a time-dependent increase of AR mRNA in the cells exposed to T, while in the cells exposed to F, T + F, T + Cy, Cy, and control (unexposed), a time-dependent decrease of AR mRNA was observed. The size of the hamster AR mRNA in these in vitro experiments was similar to that observed in other mammals (9.5 kb). It is concluded that primary cultures of hamster hg cells are a valuable model for studying hg cell activity and that in this system T autoinduces its own receptor.

  • Occurrence of androgen and estrogen receptor mRNAs in the harderian gland: a comparative survey.

    Publication Date: 01/06/1996 on Microscopy research and technique
    by Varriale B
    DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0029(19960601)34:2<97::AID-JEMT1>3.0.CO;2-S

    In Rana esculenta the presence of an androgen receptor in both the male and female Harderian gland (HG) has been demonstrated. Hybridization analysis has evidenced a high degree of homology between the rat androgen receptor cDNA and the frog androgen receptor mRNA (fARmRNA). Correspondingly the molecular size of fARmRNA is similar to those described in mammals (9.4 kb). In in vivo experiments testosterone (T) increases the levels of fARmRNA. The use of the antiandrogen alone or in combination with T prevents the increase of fARmRNA. In the control animals a loss of fARmRNA has been observed. In primary cultures of HG cells, the steady-state levels of fARmRNA increase in the cells exposed to T. These results suggest that T exerts an autoinduction on its own receptor, increasing the levels of fARmRNA. In Xenopus laevis the HG shows a sexual dimorphism of the protein pattern. The female shows two major proteins (210 and 180 kDa). Administration of estradiol to the male shifts the protein pattern into the female one. In this respect an estrogen receptor mRNA (ERmRNA) has been found in the female gland and can be induced in the male one. No ARmRNA has been detected in either sexes. A similar sex dimorphism has been found in Gallus domesticus. The female pattern is characterised by a protein fraction of about 210 kDa, the male one by a protein fraction of about 180 kDa. In 4-day-old chicks no sex differences have been found. An ERmRNA is expressed in the female, while no ARmRNA has been detected in both sexes. Neither AR nor ER mRNAs have been detected in the chick HG. Among mammals the HG or the hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) shows an androgen-dependent sex dimorphism. In in vitro experiments T 10(-12) M induces a onefold increase of ARm-RNA with respect to unexposed cells. This effect reaches its maximum (4.4-fold) when cells are exposed to T 10(-8) M. The size of the hamster ARmRNA is similar to that observed in other mammals (9.5 kb). The above results suggest that in the HG the phenomenon of autoinduction occurs and that there is a relationship between the androgen or estrogen dependence of the HG and the digamety of the species.

  • Cell biology of the harderian gland.

    Publication Date: 01/01/1996 on International review of cytology
    by Chieffi G, Baccari GC, Di Matteo L, d'Istria M, Minucci S, Varriale B

    The harderian gland is an orbital gland of the majority of land vertebrates. It is the only orbital gland in anuran amphibians since the lacrimal gland develops later during phylogenesis in some reptilian species. Perhaps because it is not found in man, little interest was paid to this gland until about four decades ago. In recent years, however, the scientific community has shown new interest in analyzing the ontogenetic and morphofunctional aspects of the harderian gland, particularly in rodents, which are the preferred experimental model for physiologists and pathologists. One of the main characteristics of the gland is the extreme variety not only in its morphology, but also in its biochemical properties. This most likely reflects the versatility of functions related to different adaptations of the species considered. The complexity of the harderian gland is further shown in its control by many exogenous and endogenous factors, which vary from species to species. The information gained so far points to the following functions for the gland: (1) lubrication of the eye and nictitating membrane, (2) a site of immune response, particularly in birds, (3) a source of pheromones, (4) a source of saliva in some chelonians, (5) osmoregulation in some reptiles, (6) photoreception in rodents, (7) thermoregulation in some rodents, and (8) a source of growth factors.

  • The androgen receptor mRNA is up-regulated by testosterone in both the Harderian gland and thumb pad of the frog, Rana esculenta.

    Publication Date: 01/12/1994 on The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology
    by Varriale B, Serino I

    Alpha 32P-labelled cDNA probe from plasmid containing rat androgen receptor (rAR) has been tested in hybridization experiments using RNAs from the Harderian gland and thumb pad of the edible frog, Rana esculenta. Northern blot analysis has shown a high degree of homology between the rAR cDNA and the frog androgen receptor mRNA (fAR mRNA); this has been supported by both the hybridization conditions (high stringency) and the molecular size of fAR mRNA which is quite similar to those described in mammals (9.4 kb). The role of androgens has been further investigated with respect to the kinetics of expression of fAR mRNA in in vivo experiments. In both the Harderian gland and thumb pad, testosterone has increased the levels of fAR mRNA as compared with the untreated groups. The use of cyproterone acetate (CPA) in combination with testosterone has resulted in a loss of the increase in fAR mRNA as compared to testosterone-treated groups, while CPA alone has resembled the control group. In primary cultures of frog Harderian gland and thumb pad cells, the steady-state levels of fAR mRNA have been increased in the cells exposed to testosterone as compared to those not exposed. These findings confirm that, in these androgen target tissues, testosterone exerts an up-regulation on its own receptors, increasing the accumulation of fAR mRNA in the same way as oestrogens up-regulate the expression of their own receptors in Xenopus liver and oviduct cells.

  • The effects of gonadectomy and testosterone treatment on the Harderian gland of the green frog, Rana esculenta.

    Publication Date: 01/08/1993 on Cell and tissue research
    by Chieffi-Baccari G, D'Matteo L, d'Istria M, Minucci S, Serino I, Varriale B

    The effects of gonadectomy and testosterone treatment on the fine structure of the Harderian gland in male and female green frogs were investigated in different periods of the year. Gonadectomy, carried out when the glands are in the lowest secretory phase (September), causes degenerative changes consisting of a reduction of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, the appearance of autolysosomes, and an increase of nuclear heterochromatin. These effects can be prevented by testosterone treatment. No castration effects are found during the recovery (November) and enhancement (April-May) phases of secretory activity. The results suggest that the frog Harderian gland's sensitivity to testosterone changes during the annual cycle. The androgen dependence of the Harderian gland is correlated with the presence of androgen receptors in both male and female frogs.

  • Effect of castration and testosterone therapy on harderian gland protein patterns of the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus).

    Publication Date: 01/07/1992 on Comparative biochemistry and physiology. B, Comparative biochemistry
    by Varriale B, Serino I, Minucci S, Chieffi G

    1. Sodium dodecyl sulphate 7-12% gradient polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of male and female hamster Harderian gland whole homogenate shows a clear-cut sexual dimorphism, which consists of the presence of two male-specific glycoproteins (168 and 116 kDa) and two specific female proteins (210 and 190 kDa). 2. In the male, castration causes a significant decrease in the concentration of the two glycoprotein fractions. 3. Replacement therapy with testosterone propionate (T) restores the intact male pattern.

  • Testosterone induction of poly(A)(+)-RNA synthesis and [35S]methionine incorporation into proteins of Rana esculenta Harderian gland.

    Publication Date: 01/04/1992 on Molecular and cellular endocrinology
    by Varriale B, Chieffi-Baccari G, d'Istria M, Di Matteo L, Minucci S, Serino I, Chieffi G

    The role of androgens in the cyclic secretory activity of the Rana esculenta Harderian gland (HG) was studied. Total RNA showed a dramatic increase in October and May when the nuclear androgen receptors peak. During the resumption of the secretory activity a gradual increase of poly(A)(+)-RNA was detected; during the enhancement phase (May) a peak of the poly(A)(+)-RNA fraction was found. In in vitro experiments testosterone increased the incorporation of [3H]uridine into the poly(A)(+)-RNA fraction and also that of [35S]methionine into a newly synthesized protein fraction (100 kDa). The latter effect is prevented by the exposure of the cells to the antiandrogen, cyproterone acetate (CPA). These findings reveal that, besides hamsters, the HG is a target for androgens in the frog.

  • Mallory stain may indicate differential rates of RNA synthesis: I. A seasonal cycle in the harderian gland of the green frog (Rana esculenta).

    Publication Date: 01/01/1992 on European journal of histochemistry : EJH
    by Chieffi Baccari G, Marmorino C, Minucci S, Di Matteo L, Varriale B, d'Istria M, Chieffi G

    When Mallory's trichrome stain is used, acinar nuclei of the Harderian gland of Rana esculenta display different affinities for the dye. Some of the orangiophilic nuclei show affinity for aniline blue (blue nuclei). In the Harderian gland of Rana esculenta their number and the intensity of staining with aniline blue may vary during the year. The affinity for aniline blue disappears following digestion of paraffin sections with RNAase, but not with DNAase or trypsin. Furthermore, in vitro incubation with [5, 6-3H]-Uridine shows a selective incorporation by the majority of blue nuclei. Therefore, the affinity for aniline blue is likely due to increased RNA synthesis. The increment of nuclear RNA shown by these methods is supported by the quantitative determination of total RNAs during the resumption (October) and enhancement (May) of secretory activity, when the percentage of blue nuclei of the acinar cells is at its highest levels of the year. The affinity of RNA-rich nuclei for aniline blue, while others are strictly orangiophil, is discussed on the basis of molecular structure of the dyes used in the staining mixture. Mallory's trichrome stain appears to be an useful tool for detecting changes in cell nuclear status.

  • Androgen receptor in the Harderian gland of Rana esculenta.

    Publication Date: 01/05/1991 on The Journal of endocrinology
    by d'Istria M, Chieffi-Baccari G, Di Matteo L, Minucci S, Varriale B, Chieffi G

    An androgen receptor has been identified in the cytosolic and nuclear extracts of the Harderian gland of the frog, Rana esculenta. A single class of high-affinity binding sites was found: Kd = 1.9 +/- 1.3 (S.D.) nmol/l (n = 26) for the cytosolic extract and Kd = 0.9 +/- 0.8 nmol/l (n = 15) for the nuclear extract. The presence of binding activity in both nuclear and cytosolic extracts and the low rate of ligand-receptor dissociation are characteristics that distinguish this receptor from a steroid-binding protein. The Kd did not show any sex difference and did not exhibit any secretory activity-related change. Binding in both cytosolic and nuclear extracts was specific for androgens (testosterone = 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone); oestradiol-17 beta showed a 30% cross-reaction; moreover, specific binding of [3H]oestradiol-17 beta was not detectable. The binding capacity of the Harderian gland increased progressively in both fractions from October to December, reaching a peak in May, and decreased suddenly during July to August. The lack of any morphological sex-related difference in the Harderian gland of the green frog might be accounted for by the high amount of circulating androgens as well as a similar concentration of androgen receptor in both sexes.

  • Autoinduction of estrogen receptor is associated with FOSP-1 mRNA induction by estrogen in primary cultures of Xenopus oviduct cells.

    Publication Date: 09/07/1990 on Molecular and cellular endocrinology
    by Varriale B, Tata JR

    The number of nuclear and cytosolic estrogen receptors (ER) per cell and the steady-state levels of the mRNA encoding a tissue-specific, estrogen-inducible protein (FOSP-1) were measured as a function of time following the addition of estradiol-17 beta (E2) to primary cultures of Xenopus oviduct cells. After a lag period of about 12 h, 10(-9) to 10(-7) M E2 caused a 10 to 15-fold increase in FOSP-1 mRNA by 60 h, whereas it was only 2-fold with 10(-7) M progesterone. Under the same conditions, E2 doubled its own total receptor content within the first 12 h, reaching a 4-fold increase in nuclear ER by 48 h. Cycloheximide treatment in the presence of 10(-7) M estradiol reduced the functional ER content by 75.90%. Treatment with the anti-estrogen ICI 164,384 of oviduct cells in which FOSP-1 mRNA was pre-induced to high levels with the hormones caused a drastic reduction in nuclear ER and a total loss of FOSP-1 mRNA in 72 h. The close correlation between the kinetics of autoinduction of ER and the induction of FOSP-1 mRNA, as was shown earlier for vitellogenin mRNA in hepatocytes (Perlman et al. (1984) Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 38, 151-161), strongly suggests that Xenopus egg protein gene activation by estrogen requires the up-regulation of its own receptor by the hormone.