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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1993 Aug 31;195(1):435-41.

GTP cyclohydrolase I mRNA is induced by LPS in vascular smooth muscle: characterization, sequence and relationship to nitric oxide synthase.

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William Harvey Research Institute, St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, London, United Kingdom.


GTP cyclohydrolase I (GTPCH) is the first and rate-limiting enzyme for the synthesis of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), a cofactor of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). As the induction of NO synthesis by immunostimulants in vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells requires de novo synthesis of BH4, we investigated whether immunostimulants enhance the expression of GTPCH mRNA. GTPCH mRNA and BH4 were measured in rat VSM cells after exposure to bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in combination with interferon-gamma (IFN). Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to amplify a predicted 372 bp fragment of GTPCH mRNA, deduced from the known nucleotide sequence of rat liver GTPCH cDNA. Dideoxynucleotide sequencing of the PCR fragment revealed 100% identity between LPS/IFN-induced GTPCH mRNA of VSM and the constitutive GTPCH mRNA of liver. Although BH4 was below our limit of detection in untreated VSM, low levels of GTPCH mRNA were detectable. LPS/IFN treatment triggered the appearance of BH4 and markedly increased GTPCH mRNA. Induction of GTPCH mRNA was apparent by 2 h, peaked at 4 h, and was sustained at high levels for at least 24 h. Induction of GTPCH mRNA by LPS/IFN was substantially enhanced by cycloheximide, suggesting that mRNA levels are depressed by a labile protein. Measurement of LPS/IFN-induced NOS mRNA by RT-PCR, demonstrated a timecourse of induction which mirrors that of GTPCH. Similarly, the timecourse of appearance of cytosolic NOS activity following exposure of VSM to LPS/IFN paralleled that of the increase in BH4 content. Our studies demonstrate that immunostimulants co-induce NOS and GTPCH gene expression: both events are necessary for induction of NO synthesis by VSM.

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