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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Glucocorticoids modulate the biosynthesis and processing of prothyrotropin releasing-hormone (proTRH).

  • Author(s): Bruhn, TO
  • Huang, SS
  • Vaslet, C
  • Nillni, EA
  • et al.

The thyrotropin- (TRH) releasing hormone precursor (26 kDa) undergoes proteolytic cleavage at either of two sites, generating N-terminal 15 kDa/9.5 kDa or C-terminal 16.5/10 kDa intermediate forms that are processed further to yield five copies of TRH-Gly and seven non-TRH peptides. Glucocorticoids (Gcc) have been shown to enhance TRH gene expression in three different cell systems in vitro, an effect that occurs, at least in part, through transcriptional activation. Although this implies that an increase of TRH prohormone biosynthesis would take place, this had not been demonstrated as yet. We report here that the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex) substantially elevated the de novo biosynthesis of the intact 26-kDa TRH prohormone and its intermediate products of processing in cultured anterior pituitary cells, an observation that is consistent with an overall upregulation of both the biosynthesis and degradation of the TRH precursor. We reasoned that Gcc may act not only at the transcriptional, but also at the translational/posttranslational level. To address this question we chose a different cell system, AtT20 cells transfected with a cDNA encoding preproTRH. Since TRH gene expression in these cells is driven by the CMV-IE promoter and not by an endogenous "physiological" promoter, these cells provide an ideal model to study selectively the effects of Gcc on the translation and posttranslational processing of proTRH without interference from a direct transcriptional activation of the TRH gene. Dex caused a significant 75.7% increase in newly synthesized 26-kDa TRH prohormone, suggesting that the glucocorticoid raised the translation rate. We then demonstrated that Dex treatment accelerated TRH precursor processing. Of interest, processing of the N- vs the C-terminal intermediate was influenced differentially by the glucocorticoid. Although the N-terminal intermediate product of processing accumulated, the C-terminal intermediate was degraded more rapidly. Consistent with these observations was the finding that the intracellular accumulation of the N-terminally derived peptide preproTRH 25-50 was enhanced, but levels of the C-terminally derived peptide preproTRH208-255 were reduced. Accumulation of TRH itself, whose five copies are N- and C-terminally derived, was also enhanced. We conclude that Gcc induce changes in the biosynthesis and processing of proTRH by increasing the translation rate and by differentially influencing the processing of N- vs C-terminal intermediates of the precursor molecule. These effects of Gcc at the translational and posttranslational levels result in an increase in TRH production accompanied by differential effects on the accumulation of N- and C-terminal non-TRH peptides.

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