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J Mol Endocrinol. 2003 Apr;30(2):99-108.

Transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms regulating the rat pituitary vasopressin V1b receptor gene.

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  • 1Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The number of V1b vasopressin receptors (V1bR) in the anterior pituitary plays an important role during adaptation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to stress in rats. Regulation of V1bR expression involves transcriptional and translational mechanisms. One of the elements mediating transcriptional activation of the rat V1bR gene is a long stretch of GAGA repeats (GAGA box) in the promoter located near the transcription start point capable of binding a protein complex of 127 kDa present in pituitary nuclear extracts. There is a lack of correlation between changes in V1bR mRNA and the number of VP binding sites, suggesting that V1bR expression depends on the efficiency of V1b R mRNA translation into protein. Two mechanisms by which the 5' untranslated region (5'-UTR) of the rat V1bR mRNA can mediate either inhibition or activation of V1bR mRNA translation have been identified. First, upstream open reading frames (ORF) present in the 5'-UTR repress translation of the major ORF encoding the V1b receptor, and secondly, an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) activates V1bR translation. Stimulation of IRES activity through protein kinase C-mediated pathways results in V1bR mRNA translation increasing V1bR protein levels. The existence of multiple loci of regulation for the V1bR at transcriptional and translational levels provides a mechanism to facilitate plasticity of regulation of the number of pituitary vasopressin receptors according to physiological demand.

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