Complex Transcriptional Regulation by Glucocorticoids and Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone of Proopiomelanocortin Gene Expression in Rat Pituitary Cultures

James H. Eberwine, Julie A. Jonassen, Marian J.q. Evinger, James L. Roberts

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Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) peptide secretion from rat anterior pituitary corticotrophs and intermediate pituitary melanotrophs is stimulated by corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH-stimulated secretion in the corticotrophs is inhibited by glucocorticoids in a complex fashion, involving both a fast, direct block-ade of POMC secretion (minutes to hours) and a longer inhibitory action (hours to days) that decreases the amount of POMC peptide available for release. The current studies tested the ability of CRH to stimulate β-endorphin (a peptide derived from POMC) secretion and POMC gene transcription in cultured anterior and neurointermediate lobe pituitary cells, and examined interactions between CRH and glucocorticoids in regulating POMC gene expression using an in vitro nuclear transcription run-on assay. In both tissues, CRH elicited a time-dependent stimulation of POMC gene transcription that was maximal at 60 min and remained elevated for at least 18 hr. Glucocorticoids rapidly inhibited POMC gene transcription fourfold in the anterior lobe with maximal effects within 20 min. Glucocorticoids also blocked CRH-stimulated POMC gene transcription in anterior pituitary cultures in a temporal manner paralleling their inhibitory effects on CRH-stimulated β-endorphin secretion. In neurointermediate lobe cultures, the effects of glucocorticoids and CRH on POMC gene transcription were qualitatively similar to, but of lesser magnitude than those observed in the anterior lobe. These studies indicate that the regulation of POMC gene transcription by glucocorticoids and CRH is complex and that the two modulators do not function independently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-492
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1987


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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