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J Neurochem. 1996 Jun;66(6):2541-5.

Regulation of GTP cyclohydrolase I gene expression and tetrahydrobiopterin content in cultured sympathetic neurons by leukemia inhibitory factor and ciliary neurotrophic factor.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


Cultures of neonatal rat superior cervical ganglia (SCG) were used to test the hypothesis that the cytokines leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) control GTP cyclohydrolase I (GTPCH) gene expression and 5,6,7,8-tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) content as traits of the noradrenergic phenotype. Treatment for 7 days with 1 ng/ml of LIF was found to produce the characteristic switch in the SCG neurotransmitter phenotype reported by others, as evidenced by a 60% decline in tyrosine hydroxylase. (TH) activity and a 75% increase in choline acetyltransferase activity. This LIF treatment paradigm decreased BH4 levels in a concentration-dependent manner, with a maximal decline of 60% observed at 1 ng/ml. Analysis of the time course of this response indicated that LIF decreased BH4 levels by 60% following 3-7 days of treatment. Treatment of cultures with CNTF (2 ng/ml) resulted in a decline in BH4 levels that was of equal magnitude and followed the same time course as that produced by LIF. The LIF-dependent decline in BH4 levels resulted from a reduction in GTPCH enzyme activity, which decreased by 75% following 7 days of treatment. Nuclease protection assays of RNA extracted from cells treated for 7 days with 2 ng/ml of LIF or CNTF detected a 78-96% reduction in GTPCH mRNA content relative to beta-actin mRNA content. Concomitant decreases in TH and GTPCH gene expression in response to LIF or CNTF demonstrate a coordinated regulation of gene expression for this BH4-dependent enzyme and the rate-limiting enzyme in the synthesis of its essential cofactor, BH4. Moreover, these results indicate that GTPCH gene expression in SCG neurons should be regarded as a trait of the noradrenergic phenotype.

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