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J Biol Chem. 1990 Aug 25;265(24):14136-42.

The biosynthesis and secretion of adrenocorticotropin by the ovine anterior pituitary is predominantly regulated by arginine vasopressin (AVP). Evidence that protein kinase C mediates the action of AVP.

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  • 1Medical Research Centre, Prince Henry's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


This study was undertaken to define the roles of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the regulation of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) release and biosynthesis in cultured ovine anterior pituitary cells and to define the intracellular mechanisms responsible for their action. At 4 h, CRF and AVP increased both ACTH release and total ACTH content, with AVP clearly the more potent agonist (maximal ACTH release: AVP, 22.8-fold; CRF, 7.6-fold; maximal increment in total ACTH content: AVP, 1.9-fold; CRF, 1.1-fold; EC50 for ACTH release: AVP, 2.3 +/- 0.5 nM; CRF, 9.2 +/- 5.0 nM). The increase in total ACTH content was interpreted to reflect an augmentation of ACTH biosynthesis since it was abolished by 10 microM cycloheximide. Exposure of the anterior pituitary cells to increasing concentrations of forskolin or 8-bromo-cAMP elicited increases in ACTH release and total ACTH content that were similar to those caused by CRF. A 30-min incubation with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) caused a dose-related translocation of protein kinase C from the cytosol to the cell membrane; after 4 h, the increases in ACTH release and total ACTH content in response to increasing concentrations of PMA were similar to those caused by AVP. Chronic (24 h) exposure to 150 nM PMA caused an almost total depletion of both cytosolic and membrane-bound protein kinase C activities. When protein kinase C-depleted cells were subsequently exposed to AVP, the increases in ACTH release and total ACTH content were markedly attenuated, but the responses to CRF were preserved. Finally, the combination of CRF and AVP, CRF and PMA, or AVP and 8-bromo-cAMP increased ACTH release and total ACTH content in a synergistic manner. We conclude that: 1) in ovine anterior pituitary cells, AVP is the predominant regulator of ACTH secretion and biosynthesis; 2) the action of AVP is predominantly mediated by activation of protein kinase C, whereas the action of CRF is likely to be mediated by activation of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (protein kinase A); and 3) the ability of CRF and AVP to increase total ACTH content and secretion in a synergistic manner provides a demonstration in normal pituitary cells that protein kinases C and A may interact in a unidirectional manner to regulate ACTH biosynthesis in addition to ACTH release. This interaction may take place within, or between, individual corticotropes.

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