Although corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) plays a pivotal role in the regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, the mechanism of CRH gene expression in the neuronal cell is not completely understood. In this study, we examined the transcriptional regulation of human CRH gene 5′-promoter, using a human BE(2)C neuroblastoma cell line expressing intrinsic CRH. In particular, we focused on the involvement of calmodulin kinases (CaMKs), which are known to play an important role in excitation-induced gene expression through the rise in intracellular calcium in the central nervous system. RT-PCR analysis confirmed the expression of CaMK as well as CRH mRNA in BE(2)C cells. When we introduced ≈ 1.1 kb of the 5′-promoter region of the human CRH fused with luciferase reporter gene into the cells, a substantial transcriptional activity was observed, and this was further increased by the activation of the cAMP/PKA pathway. We then examined the effect of activation of CaMKs by introducing the expression vectors of each kinase, revealing a potent stimulatory effect of CaMKIV, but no effect of CaMKII. Depolarization of the cells caused an increase in CRH promoter activity, which was completely abolished by the treatment with the CaMK antagonist K252a. Interestingly, KCREB, a dominant negative form of CREB, antagonized the effect of the CaMKIV-mediated effect. Altogether, we conclude that not only the cAMP/PKA but also the calcium/CaMKIV signaling pathway is involved in the regulation of CRH gene expression. Furthermore, CREB is thought to be involved in CaMK- as well as cAMP/PKA-mediated CRH gene expression. Since the CRH gene is expressed in the neuronal cells of the hypothalamus, the calcium/CaMKIV signaling pathway may play an important role in the excitation-mediated regulation of CRH synthesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology