Changes in rat pituitary nuclear and cytoplasmic pro-opiomelanocortin RNAs associated with adrenalectomy and glucocorticoid replacement

D. J. Autelitano, M. Blum, J. L. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


While the transcriptional effects of glucocorticoid hormone manipulation on the pituitary pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene have been documented, it is not yet clear whether glucocorticoids activate additional post-transcriptional mechanisms to regulate POMC gene expression. We have used RNA probes that span exon/intron junctions in sensitive nuclease protection assays in order to examine changes in POMC precursor RNA as well as mature mRNA in nucleus and cytoplasm following both adrenalectomy (ADX) and administration of exogenous glucocorticoids. ADX led to a rapid and sustained 8- to 10-fold increase in the level of POMC primary transcript in the anterior lobe (AL), from 1 to 14 days after ADX. Stimulation of mature POMC mRNA in the nucleus was also rapid, with 7- to 8-fold increases evident by 1 day after ADX. In sharp contrast, the time-dependent accumulation of POMC mRNA in the cytoplasm was slow in comparison, reaching levels approximately 2-fold higher than sham-operated animals by 1 day post-ADX and 12-fold higher by 14 days after ADX. Despite the constant elevated level of nuclear POMC precursor RNA, the rate of accumulation of POMC mRNA in the corticotroph cytoplasm after ADX was not linear, with the greatest increase occurring within the first 1-4 days post-ADX. This led to alterations in the molar ratio of POMC primary transcript: nuclear mRNA: cytoplasmic mRNA in the AL at 1 and 4 days after ADX and showed a relative increase in the proportion of POMC RNA transcripts within the nucleus. Acute administration of dexamethasone to ADX rats resulted in rapid 80-90% inhibition of POMC primary transcript levels in the AL that was maximal by 30 min but with no associated change in mature mRNA. No significant changes in POMC RNA were seen in neurointermediate lobe in any of these studies. These studies suggest that following ADX, time-dependent alterations in nuclear transport of mature POMC mRNA and/or changes in POMC mRNA stability, in addition to changes in gene transcription may account for the overall level of POMC mRNA expressed in the AL. Furthermore, we have illustrated the use of exon/intron probes for accurately quantitating rapid alterations in steady-state levels of nuclear precursor RNA that may reflect transcriptional responses and/or changes in post-transcriptional processing of the primary transcript.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-180
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Glucocorticoid
  • Messenger RNA
  • Pro-opiomelanocortin
  • RNA transcript

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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