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Mol Endocrinol. 1990 Jul;4(7):1051-9.

Vasopressin gene expression in the rodent hypothalamus: transcriptional and posttranscriptional responses to physiological stimulation.

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Neuropeptide Laboratory, National University of Singapore, Republic of Singapore.


The neuropeptide vasopressin (VP) is expressed in the supraoptic nucleus, a discrete group of neurons in the hypothalamus that respond to osmotic stimuli. In the rat the pattern of expression of VP mRNA changes in two ways as a consequence of the physiological stimulation of these neurons. Firstly, there is an accumulation of VP mRNA, and secondly, the poly(A) tail of the VP mRNA increases in length. We asked whether the increase in VP mRNA level is a consequence of transcriptional or posttranscriptional mechanisms. We present evidence from nuclear run-on assays that increases in the transcription of the rat VP gene are sufficient to account for the accumulation of VP mRNA observed in chronically stimulated animals. However, we note that in acutely stimulated animals there are rapid and relatively large increases in VP gene transcription that do not correlate with increases in the VP mRNA level, but coincide with the appearance of a homogeneous class of VP mRNAs with elongated poly(A) tails. We suggest that immediately after the onset of an acute osmotic stimulus, there is a rapid destruction of preexisting VP mRNAs and their replacement with new transcripts bearing longer poly(A) tails. We have also addressed the question of the function of the elongated VP mRNA poly(A) tail. It is unlikely that the poly(A) tail extension is involved in RNA stability; the transcriptional changes observed are sufficient to account for the increase in VP mRNA level, and we show that in the mouse similar increases in VP mRNA level are observed without concomitant changes in poly(A) tail length. We did not observe a change in the polysome distribution of the VP mRNA after osmotic stimulation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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