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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1998 Oct 30;61(1-2):154-61.

Phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase gene expression: synergistic activation by Egr-1, AP-2 and the glucocorticoid receptor.

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Nancy Pritzker Laboratory, MSLS Building, Room P106, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5485, USA.


The gene encoding the epinephrine synthesizing enzyme, phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT), is transcriptionally activated by Egr-1, AP-2, and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR). Stimulation by AP-2 requires its synergistic interaction with an activated GR. The present studies show that the GR also cooperates with Egr-1 or the combination of Egr-1 and AP-2 to activate the PNMT promoter. Together Egr-1, AP-2, and the GR can induce PNMT promoter-mediated luciferase reporter gene expression beyond the sum of their independent contributions as well as synergistically activate the endogenous PNMT gene leading to marked increases in PNMT mRNA. Examination of the effects of mutation of the AP-2 or Egr-1 binding sites on PNMT promoter activation by DEX and the factor binding to the remaining intact site or by all three transcriptional activators showed changes in luciferase reporter gene expression which suggest that DNA structure may be altered thereby reducing or enhancing synergistic activation. It also appears that the -165 bp Egr-1 site may not be critical for the synergism observed between Egr-1, AP-2 and the GR. When the glucocorticoid response element (GRE) within the PNMT promoter was mutated, PNMT promoter activation by Egr-1 and DEX, AP-2 and DEX or all three showed both inhibition and enhancement, even when the GRE was completely eliminated. These observations indicate that induction of PNMT gene transcription may occur either through GR interaction with other transcriptional proteins after binding to its cognate GRE or through direct protein-protein interaction in the absence of GRE binding. While the mechanisms by which Egr-1 and the GR and Egr-1, AP-2 and the GR function cooperatively to stimulate PNMT promoter activity remain to be elucidated, this synergistic stimulation of the PNMT promoter by these factors may provide important in vivo and in vitro regulatory control of the PNMT gene.

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