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Neuroscience. 1999;94(3):803-8.

Transient or sustained transcriptional activation of the genes encoding rat adrenomedullary catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes by different durations of immobilization stress.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, New York Medical College, Valhalla 10595, USA.


The impact of stress on the transcription of rat adrenal tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine beta-hydroxylase genes was examined. Nuclear run-on assays revealed that repeated immobilization stress elicited marked (about threefold) increases in the relative rates of transcription, being sustained for at least one day. Parallel changes in the steady-state messenger RNA levels for tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine beta-hydroxylase were also observed. A single episode of stress triggered similar enhancements in their relative transcription rates. Depending on the duration of the stress signal, the effect on gene transcription varied in its persistence. After very short (5 min) immobilization, there was a marked transient rise in the transcription of both genes, without an accumulation of the corresponding mRNAs. Longer episodes of stress (30 min) increased the relative rate of tyrosine hydroxylase transcription for hours, causing elevations in the steady-state messenger RNA levels. In contrast, although dopamine beta-hydroxylase transcription was elevated to a similar extent by 30-min immobilization stress, the effect was transient and not reflected in significant accumulation of its messenger RNA. The results of our studies emphasize that the stress-evoked increases in the expression of the genes encoding adrenomedullary catecholamine biosynthetic enzymes involve transcriptional activation. Depending on the duration and reiteration of the stress signal, different transcriptional mechanisms may be employed.

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