Homologous regulation of GnRH receptor (GnRHR) gene expression is an established mechanism for controlling the sensitivity of gonadotropes to GnRH. We have found that expression of the GnRHR gene in the gonadotrope-derived αT3-1 cell line is mediated by a tripartite enhancer that includes a consensus activator protein-1 (AP-1) element, a binding site for SF-1 (steroidogenic factor-1), and an element we have termed GRAS (GnRHR-activating sequence). Further, in transgenic mice, approximately 1900 bp of the murine GnRHR gene promoter are sufficient for tissue-specific expression and GnRH responsiveness. The present studies were designed to further delineate the molecular mechanisms underlying GnRH regulation of GnRHR gene expression. Vectors containing 600 bp of the murine GnRHR gene promoter linked to luciferase (LUC) were transiently transfected into αT3-1 cells and exposed to treatments for 4 or 6 h. A GnRH-induced, dose-dependent increase in LUC expression of the -600 promoter was observed with maximal induction of LUC noted at 100 nM GnRH. We next tested the ability of GnRH to stimulate expression of vectors containing mutations in each of the components of the tripartite enhancer. GnRH responsiveness was lost in vectors containing mutations in AP-1. Gel mobility shift data revealed binding of fos/jun family members to the AP-1 element of the murine GnRHR promoter. Treatment with GnRH or phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA) (100 nM), but not forskolin (10 μM), increased LUC expression, which was blocked by the protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, GF109203X (100 nM), and PKC down-regulation (10 nM PMA for 20 h). In addition, a specific MEK1/MEK2 inhibitor, PD98059 (60 μM), reduced the GnRH and PMA responses whereas the L-type voltage-gated calcium channel agonist, ±BayK 8644 (5 μM), and antagonist, nimodipine (250 nM), had no effect on GnRH responsiveness. Furthermore, treatment of αT3-1 cells with 100 nM GnRH stimulated phosphorylation of both p42 and p44 forms of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), which was completely blocked with 60 μM PD98059. We suggest that GnRH regulation of the GnRHR gene is partially mediated by an ERK-dependent activation of a canonical AP-1 site located in the proximal promoter of the GnRHR gene.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology