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J Biol Chem. 1992 Mar 5;267(7):4508-12.

Tissue- and treatment-specific usage of multiple preproenkephalin transcriptional start sites.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794-8111.


The significance of the 5' heterogeneity of the transmitter gene ppEnk was evaluated by comparing start site usage (E1-E4) between 12 tissues from untreated rats, using primer extension analysis. In the basal state, we found that E3- and E4-initiated transcripts accounted for 80% of the total striatal RNA present compared with a preferential usage of the E2 start site in all other tissues. To determine whether this selective expression could be modified by biologically relevant pathways, rats were made hypoglycemic. After insulin shock, only E3 + E4-initiated transcripts increased (16-fold at 1 day) in the adrenal medulla but were unaffected in the striatum. As the effects of insulin shock on the adrenal medulla are mediated by cholinergic pathways and the striatum also receives cholinergic inputs, we also compared the effects of cholinergic drug treatments on start site usage in these two tissues. Rats were treated with cholinergic agonists (nicotine + oxotremorine) which induced adrenomedullary E2 and E3 + E4 transcripts (5- and 80-fold, respectively). This effect peaked at 2 days. In contrast, in the same animals, striatal ppEnk RNA (E3 + E4) increased only 10-15-fold after drug treatment. Hence it appears that biologically relevant whole animal stimuli (insulin shock or cholinergic agents) activate biochemical pathways, which affect start site usage in a tissue-specific fashion. Selective RNA start site usage suggests a biological significance, which may be important in the widespread tissue expression of this gene.

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