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J Neurosci. 2000 May 15;20(10):3843-52.

Glucocorticoid negative feedback selectively targets vasopressin transcription in parvocellular neurosecretory neurons.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neuronal Structure and Function, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Foundation for Medical Research, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


To identify molecular targets of corticosteroid negative feedback effects on neurosecretory neurons comprising the central limb of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, we monitored ether stress effects on corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) heteronuclear RNA (hnRNA) expression in rats that were intact or adrenalectomized (ADX) and replaced with corticosterone (B) at constant levels ranging from nil to peak stress concentrations. Under basal conditions, relative levels of both primary transcripts varied inversely as a function of plasma B titers. In response to stress, the kinetics of CRF hnRNA responses of intact and ADX rats replaced with low B were similar, peaking at 5 min after stress. By contrast, intact rats showed a delayed AVP hnRNA response (peak at 2 hr), the timing of which was markedly advanced in ADX/low B-replaced animals (peak at 5-30 min). Transcription factors implicated in these responses responded similarly. Manipulation of B status did not affect the early (5-15 min) phosphorylation of transcription factor cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) but accelerated maximal Fos induction from 2 hr after stress (intact) to 1 hr (ADX). Assays of binding by proteins in hypothalamic extracts of similarly manipulated rats toward consensus CRE and AP-1 response elements supported a role for the stress-induced plasma B increment in antagonizing AP-1, but not CRE, binding. These findings suggest that glucocorticoid negative feedback at the transcriptional levels is exerted selectively on AVP gene expression through a mechanism that likely involves glucocorticoid receptor interactions with immediate-early gene products.

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