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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2005 Oct 3;139(2):333-40.

Regulation of cAMP-induced arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase, Period1, and MKP-1 gene expression by mitogen-activated protein kinases in the rat pineal gland.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive, SW, Atlanta, GA 30310-1495, USA.


In rodent pineal glands, sympathetic innervation, which leads to norepinephrine release, is a key process in the circadian regulation of physiology and certain gene expressions. It has been shown that gene expression of the rate-limiting enzyme in the melatonin synthesis arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (Aa-Nat), circadian clock gene Period1, and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphtase-1 (MKP-1), is controlled mainly by a norepinephrine-beta-adrenergic receptor-cAMP signaling cascade in the rat pineal gland. To further dissect the signaling cascades that regulate those gene expressions, we examined whether MAPKs are involved in cAMP-induced gene expression. Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses showed that one of the three MAPKs, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), was expressed in the pineal, and was phosphorylated by cAMP analogue stimulation with a peak 20 min after start of the stimulation, in vitro. A specific JNK inhibitor SP600125 (Anthra[1,9-cd]pyrazol-6(2H)-one1,9-pyrazoloanthrone), but not its negative control (N1-Methyl-1,9-pyrazoloanthrone), significantly reduced cAMP-stimulated Aa-Nat, Period1, and MKP-1 mRNA levels. Although another MAPK, p38(MAPK), has also been shown to be activated by cAMP stimulation, a p38(MAPK) inhibitor, SB203580 (4-(4-Fluorophenyl)-2-(4-methylsulfinylphenyl)-5-(4-pyridyl)1H-imidazole, HCl), showed no effect on cAMP-induced Aa-Nat and Period1 mRNA levels; whereas SB203580, but not its negative analogue SB202474 (4-Ethyl-2(p-methoxyphenyl)-5-(4'-pyridyl)-IH-imidazole, DiHCl), significantly reduced cAMP-induced MKP-1 mRNA levels. Taken together, our data suggest that cAMP-induced Aa-Nat and Period1 are likely to be mediated by activation of JNK, whereas MKP-1 may be mediated by both p38(MAPK) and JNK activations.

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