Rapid regulation of corticotropin-releasing hormone gene transcription in vivo

Mol Endocrinol. 1992 Jul;6(7):1061-9. doi: 10.1210/mend.6.7.1324419.


Regulation of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) gene expression in vivo was assessed via in situ hybridization histochemistry, using probes directed against an intronic sequence of the CRH gene. Initial characterization of the CRH intron (CRHin) probe revealed specific localization of signal to the nuclear compartment of neurons in the medial parvocellular paraventricular hypothalamus, which are known to produce CRH peptide and mRNA. Abundance of CRHin signal was low, commensurate with a low resting pool of CRH heteronuclear RNA (hnRNA), representing CRH primary transcript. Regulation of CRH hnRNA levels was assessed after acute glucocorticoid synthesis blockade by injection of metyrapone. Metyrapone inhibits the conversion of 11-deoxycorticosterone to corticosterone, thereby rapidly depleting glucocorticoids and serving as a discrete stimulus for hypothalamo-pituitary-adreno-cortical activation. Plasma hormone measurements verified the efficacy of treatment, as metyrapone-treated rats showed extremely low basal corticosterone levels at all postinjection time points, while exhibiting progressive increases in plasma ACTH release over the 60-min postinjection period. CRH hnRNA levels were markedly increased 15-30 min after metyrapone injection, consistent with a rapid induction of CRH gene transcription in response to the stimulatory event. CRH mRNA, on the other hand, did not exceed control levels until 60 min post metyrapone, illustrative of a temporal lag between transcriptional changes and detectable changes in mRNA pools. Additional sections from metyrapone-and vehicle-treated rats were hybridized with probes complementary to mRNA encoding the immediate-early gene c-fos. c-fos was not present under unstimulated conditions yet was rapidly induced upon metyrapone treatment or vehicle injection (15 min).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / biosynthesis
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Introns
  • Male
  • Metyrapone / pharmacology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / cytology
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / drug effects*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Corticosterone
  • Metyrapone