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Endocr J. 2000 Feb;47(1):63-75.

Involvement of AP-1 and steroidogenic factor (SF)-1 in the cAMP-dependent induction of human adrenocorticotropic hormone receptor (ACTHR) promoter.

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Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University, Japan.


Adrenocorticotropic hormone receptor (ACTHR) is expressed predominantly in the adrenal glands, and its expression is upregulated by its own ligand, ACTH, via a cAMP-dependent pathway. In the present study, we characterized the 5'-regulatory region of human ACTHR gene to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying its adrenal-specific and ACTH/cAMP-dependent expression. The promoter region (-1017/+47 when the transcription start site is regarded as + 1) and its serial 5'-deletions (-764/+47, -503/+-47, -214/+47 and -56/+47) were ligated into the upstream of a luciferase (luc) reporter gene. These constructs were transfected into adrenocortical Y1 cells or non-adrenal JEG3 and Cos-1 cells. In all the cell lines, the luc activity gradually increased with serial 5'-deletions and the maximum activity was conferred by - 56/+ 47. However, the magnitude of luc activity of each deletion construct in non-adrenal cells was much less than that in Y1 cells, suggesting that the promoter functions in an adrenal-specific manner. We identified two Steroidogenic Factor (SF)-1-binding sites at -209 and -35. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) demonstrated that both sites bind to SF-1. Mutation of both sites significantly decreased the activity of -214/+47 promoter in Y1 cells. Transfection of SF-1-expressing plasmid into non-adrenal cells significantly increased the promoter activity, suggesting that SF-1 plays a role in the tissue-specific expression of human ACTHR gene. We identified the region, -764 to -503, that was required for the forskolin/cAMP responsiveness of the promoter. This region contains one AP-1 site. EMSA revealed that the binding of AP-1 to this site increased significantly upon treatment of Y1 cells with forskolin. Mutation of the site abolished the forskolin-responsiveness. In non-adrenal cells, the forskolin-responsiveness was observed only when SF-1-expressing plasmid was cotransfected. This is the first demonstration that both AP-1 and SF-1 are required for the cAMP-dependent induction of human ACTHR gene.

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