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J Neurosci. 2000 May 1;20(9):3129-38.

Plasma membrane calcium pump isoform 1 gene expression is repressed by corticosterone and stress in rat hippocampus.

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Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, and Biomedical Sciences Program, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Glucocorticoids (GCs) are critical to learning and memory, in large part because of their actions in the hippocampus. Chronic high levels of GCs have profound effects on hippocampal structure and function and can even result in irreversible neurodegeneration. Hippocampal GC actions are mediated by intracellular receptors that modulate the transcription of specific target genes. In a screen for genes repressed by GCs in rat hippocampus, we identified plasma membrane calcium pump isoform 1 (PMCA1), a plasma membrane calcium ATPase. In Northern blots, PMCA1 was repressed approximately 33% after a high, but not a low dose of the GC, corticosterone (B), suggesting glucocorticoid (but not mineralocorticoid) receptor-mediated repression. Furthermore, in situ hybridization demonstrated that B significantly downregulated PMCA1 mRNA in all brain regions examined. Repression of PMCA1 was also observed in cultured hippocampal neurons, but only when the cells were in the differentiated state. Stress also repressed PMCA1 expression in hippocampus of adrenal-intact animals, and a clear inverse correlation between B level and PMCA1 mRNA could be discerned. However, other non-B-dependent factors appeared to be involved in the response of PMCA1 to stress because, unlike exogenous B, cold stress did not repress PMCA1 in brain regions other than hippocampus. Moreover, in the presence of constant B (B-replaced, adrenalectomized animals), cold stress led to increased hippocampal PMCA1 expression. These observations suggest that repression of PMCA1 represents one molecular mechanism by which corticosteroids regulate Ca(2+) homeostasis and hence influence neuronal activity. Moreover, other stress-related neurohumoral factors appear to counter the repressive effects of B. Defects in the balance between GC-mediated and non-GC-mediated effects on PMCA1 expression may have adverse effects on neuronal function and ultimately result in irreversible neuronal damage.

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