Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF-4l)-producing perikarya in the hypothalamic parvocellular paraventricular nuclei (pPVN) play an integral role in regulation of adenohypophysial adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) secretion, pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene expression and, thus, in the regulation of adrenocortical secretion. The secretory activity of CRF-positive neurons is modulated by humoral factors (glucocorticoids, glucose, etc) and by numerous afferent fibers conveying information about interoceptive and exteroceptive stimuli. CRF-41 neurons receive heavy innervation from medullary cell groups which, themselves, receive a diverse array of visceral and somatosensory inputs. Therefore they are excellent candidates for mediating activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in response to a number of visceral (e.g. hypovolemia, hypotension) and somatic (e.g. pain) stimuli. Efferents from medullary regions are the major source of inputs containing norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (EPI), neuropeptide Y (NPY), and a peptide with activin-like immunoreactivity (IbetaA-LI) to the CRF-rich pPVN. These putative transmitters generally facilitate CRF-41 secretion, although the nature of adrenergic receptor subtypes mediating catecholamine actions remain controversial. Ultimately, mechanisms must exist to ensure coordination of gene expression and secretion. In the present proposal, we will test the hypothesis that, individually or in combination, NE and IbetaA-LI (a member of the TGF-beta growth factor family) participate in the coordination of CRF-41 secretion and gene expression. Because of the biochemical diversity of these transmitters and the likelihood that their release occurs in a specific manner dependent upon the stimulus characteristics (modality, amplitude, frequency, duration), we hypothesize that these transmitters differentially affect secretion and gene expression in the target cells via multiple intracellular pathways. Neurotransmitter release evokes both rapid and slow responses in neurons, thus permitting an immediate response to the stimulus as well as longer-term adaptive plasticity. It has been suggested that induction of the c-fos gene, which encodes a nuclear phosphoprotein with DNA binding properties consistent that of a transcriptional regulator, is a component of the signaling cascade by which specific transmitters may modulate neuronal gene expression. Therefore, we will evaluate whether any of these neurotransmitters activate the c-fos gene and then determine whether or not C-fos activation is correlated with CRF-41 secretion and/or gene expression.
|Sapolsky, R M; Plotsky, P M (1990) Hypercortisolism and its possible neural bases. Biol Psychiatry 27:937-52|