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Mol Endocrinol. 2011 Jun;25(6):1027-39. doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0387. Epub 2011 Mar 24.

Characterization of a MAPK scaffolding protein logic gate in gonadotropes.

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Center for Translational Systems Biology and Department of Neurology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Annenberg 14-94, Box 1137, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, New York 10029, USA.


In the pituitary gonadotropes, both protein kinase C (PKC) and MAPK/ERK signaling cascades are activated by GnRH. Phosphoprotein-enriched in astrocytes 15 (PEA-15) is a cytosolic ERK scaffolding protein, which is expressed in LβT2 gonadotrope cells. Pharmacological inhibition of PKC and small interfering RNA-mediated silencing of Gαq/11 revealed that GnRH induces accumulation of phosphorylated PEA-15 in a PKC-dependent manner. To investigate the potential role of PEA-15 in GnRH signaling, we examined the regulation of ERK subcellular localization and the activation of ribosomal S6 kinase, a substrate of ERK. Results obtained by cellular fractionation/Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry revealed that GnRH-induced accumulation of phosphorylated ERK in the nucleus was attenuated when PEA-15 expression was reduced. Conversely, in the absence of GnRH stimulation, PEA-15 anchors ERK in the cytosol. Our data suggest that GnRH-induced nuclear translocation of ERK requires its release from PEA-15, which occurs upon PEA-15 phosphorylation by PKC. Additional gene-silencing experiments in GnRH-stimulated cells demonstrated that ribosomal S6 kinase activation was dependent on both PEA-15 and PKC. Furthermore, small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of PEA-15 caused a reduction in GnRH-stimulated expression of early response genes Egr2 and c-Jun, as well as gonadotropin FSHβ-subunit gene expression. PEA-15 knockdown increased LHβ and common α-glycoprotein subunit mRNAs, suggesting a possible role in differential regulation of gonadotropin subunit gene expression. We propose that PEA-15 represents a novel point of convergence of the PKC and MAPK/ERK pathways under GnRH stimulation. PKC, ERK, and PEA-15 form an AND logic gate that shapes the response of the gonadotrope cell to GnRH.

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