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Front Biosci. 2004 Jan 1;9:32-9.

Complex regulatory interactions control CRH gene expression.

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  • 1Mothers and Babies Research Centre, Hunter Medical Research Institute, University of Newcastle, NSW 2310, Australia.


Glucocorticoids inhibit corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) production in the hypothalamus but stimulate production from the placenta. To identify key elements regulating the CRH gene, mouse pituitary tumor-derived cells (AtT20 cells) were used as a hypothalamic model in an analysis of the CRH promoter. Two cAMP responsive elements were identified: (I) a consensus cAMP response element (CRE) and (II) a previously unrecognized caudal-type homeobox response element (CDXRE). Glucocorticoids inhibit only the component of cAMP-stimulation occurring via the CRE through an action involving a negative glucocorticoid response element (nGRE). We also identified two regions that, in the absence of the nGRE, can be stimulated by glucocorticoids: (I) the CRE and (II) a region between -213 to -99bps. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays identified binding of the transcription factors CREB and Fos at the CRE in AtT20 cells, whereas CREB and cJun were detected in placental cells. In addition, a novel CRE-binding transcription factor has been identified that is expressed in the brain and in placenta. A model is presented whereby CRH gene regulation is mediated via tissue specific expression of transcription factors.

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