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J Biol Chem. 2004 Mar 19;279(12):10837-40. Epub 2004 Jan 6.

NF-kappaB participates in the corticotropin-releasing, hormone-induced regulation of the pituitary proopiomelanocortin gene.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Corticotropin-releasing hormone is a main regulator of mammalian stress response by stimulating pituitary proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene expression, and thus adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion, which then causes glucocorticoid release from the adrenal. In a recent study in the pituitary corticotroph cell line AtT20, oxidative stress stimulated the activity of nuclear transcription factor B (NF-kappaB), whereas corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) inhibited both the constitutive and the oxidative stress-induced NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity. To further investigate the role of NF-kappaB on the CRH-induced pituitary POMC gene activation, AtT20 cells were transiently transfected with a POMC-luciferase construct mutated at an NF-kappaB binding site. After treatment with CRH, intracellular POMC-luciferase activity was significantly higher from the stimulation observed with transfection of the parental POMC-luciferase construct. In agreement with a previous report, CRH inhibited the constitutive NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity in AtT20 cells, as shown by electrophoretic mobility-shift assay, as soon as within 15 min of treatment. These effects of CRH were blocked by the CRH-R1 antagonist CP154,256. Our findings provide evidence that the regulation of corticotroph NF-kappaB activity by CRH is related to the activation of the pituitary POMC gene and, thus, may play an important role in stress response.

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