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Biol Reprod. 2009 Dec;81(6):1206-15. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.109.079426. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

Regulation of Lhb and Egr1 gene expression by GNRH pulses in rat pituitaries is both c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)- and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-dependent.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, and the Center for Research in Reproduction, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Pulsatile GNRH regulates the gonadotropin subunit genes in a differential manner, with faster frequencies favoring Lhb gene expression and slower frequencies favoring Fshb. Early growth response 1 (EGR1) is critical for Lhb gene transcription. We examined GNRH regulation of EGR1 and its two corepressors, Ngfi-A-binding proteins 1 and 2 (NAB1 and NAB2), both in vivo and in cultured rat pituitary cells. In rats, fast GNRH pulses (every 30 min) stably induced Egr1 primary transcript (PT) and mRNA 2-fold (P < 0.05) for 1-24 h. In contrast, slow GNRH pulses (every 240 min) increased Egr1 PT at 24 h (6-fold; P < 0.05) but increased Egr1 mRNA 4- to 5-fold between 4 and 24 h. Both GNRH pulse frequencies increased EGR1 protein 3- to 4-fold. In cultured rat pituitary cells, GNRH pulses (every 60 min) increased Egr1 (PT, 2.5- to 3-fold; mRNA, 1.5- to 2-fold; P < 0.05). GNRH pulses had little effect on Nab1/2 PT/mRNAs either in vivo or in vitro. We also examined specific intracellular signaling cascades activated by GNRH. Inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinase 8/9 (MAPK8/9 [also known as JNK]; SP600125) and MAP Kinase Kinase 1 (MAP2K1 [also known as MEK1]; PD98059) either blunted or totally suppressed the GNRH induction of Lhb PT and Egr1 PT/mRNA, whereas the MAPK14 (also known as p38) inhibitor SB203580 did not. In summary, pulsatile GNRH stimulates Egr1 gene expression and protein in vivo but not in a frequency-dependent manner. Additionally, GNRH-induced Egr1 gene expression is mediated by MAPK8/9 and MAPK1/3, and both are critical for Lhb gene transcription.

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