Reproductive function is dependent on the interaction between GnRH and its cognate receptor found on gonadotrope cells of the anterior pituitary gland. GnRH activation of the GnRH receptor (GnRHR) is a potent stimulus for increased expression of multiple genes including the gene encoding the GnRHR itself. Thus, homologous regulation of the GnRHR is an important mechanism underlying gonadotrope sensitivity to GnRH. Previously, we have found that GnRH induction of GnRHR gene expression in αT3-1 cells is partially mediated by protein kinase C activation of a canonical activator protein-1 (AP-1) element. In contrast, protein kinase A and a cAMP response element-like element have been implicated in mediating the GnRH response of the GnRHR gene using a heterologous cell model (GGH3). Herein we find that selective removal of the canonical AP-1 site leads to a loss of GnRH regulation of the GnRHR promoter in transgenic mice. Thus, an intact AP-1 element is necessary for GnRH responsiveness of the GnRHR gene both in vitro and in vivo. Based on in vitro analyses, GnRH appeared to enhance the interaction of JunD, FosB, and c-Fos at the GnRHR AP-1 element. Although enhanced binding of cFos reflected an increase in gene expression, GnRH appeared to regulate both FosB and JunD at a posttranslational level. Neither overexpression of a constitutively active Raf-kinase nor pharmacological blockade of GnRH-induced ERK activation eliminated the GnRH response of the GnRHR promoter. GnRH responsiveness was, however, lost in αT3-1 cells that stably express a dominant-negative c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) kinase, suggesting a critical role for JNK in mediating GnRH regulation of the GnRHR gene. Consistent with this possibility, we find that the ability of forskolin and membrane-permeable forms of cAMP to inhibit the GnRH response of the GnRHR promoter is associated with a loss of both JNK activation and GnRH-mediated recruitment of the primary AP-1-binding components.
ASJC Scopus subject areas