Pulsatile GNRH regulates the gonadotropin subunit genes in a differential manner, with faster frequencies favoring Lhb gene expression and slower frequencies favoring Fshb. Early growth response 1 (EGR1) is critical for Lhb gene transcription. We examined GNRH regulation of EGR1 and its two corepressors, Ngfi-A-binding proteins 1 and 2 (NAB1 and NAB2), both in vivo and in cultured rat pituitary cells. In rats, fast GNRH pulses (every 30 min) stably induced Egr1 primary transcript (PT) and mRNA 2-fold (P < 0.05) for 1–24 h. In contrast, slow GNRH pulses (every 240 min) increased Egr1 PT at 24 h (6-fold; P < 0.05) but increased Egr1 mRNA 4- to 5-fold between 4 and 24 h. Both GNRH pulse frequencies increased EGR1 protein 3- to 4-fold. In cultured rat pituitary cells, GNRH pulses (every 60 min) increased Egr1 (PT, 2.5- to 3-fold; mRNA, 1.5- to 2-fold; P < 0.05). GNRH pulses had little effect on Nab1/2 PT/mRNAs either in vivo or in vitro. We also examined specific intracellular signaling cascades activated by GNRH. Inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinase 8/9 (MAPK8/9 [also known as JNK]; SP600125) and MAP Kinase Kinase 1 (MAP2K1 [also known as MEK1]; PD98059) either blunted or totally suppressed the GNRH induction of Lhb PT and Egr1 PT/mRNA, whereas the MAPK14 (also known as p38) inhibitor SB203580 did not. In summary, pulsatile GNRH stimulates Egr1 gene expression and protein in vivo but not in a frequency-dependent manner. Additionally, GNRH-induced Egr1 gene expression is mediated by MAPK8/9 and MAPK1/3, and both are critical for Lhb gene transcription.
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Vol. 81 • No. 6