Genomic and nongenomic cross talk between the gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor and glucocorticoid receptor signaling pathways

Mol Endocrinol. 2009 Nov;23(11):1726-45. doi: 10.1210/me.2008-0462. Epub 2009 Oct 7.


The GnRH receptor (GnRHR), a member of the G protein-coupled receptor family, is a central regulator of reproductive function in all vertebrates. The peptide hormone GnRH exerts its effects via binding to the GnRHR in pituitary gonadotropes. We investigated the mechanisms of regulation of transcription of the mGnRHR gene in the mouse pituitary gonadotrope L beta T2 cell line by GnRH and dexamethasone (dex). Reporter assays with transfected mGnRHR promoter show that both dex and GnRH increase transcription of the mGnRHR gene via an activating protein-1 (AP-1) site. Real-time PCR confirmed this on the endogenous mGnRHR gene, and small interfering RNA experiments revealed a requirement for the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) for both the dex and GnRH response. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and immunofluorescence assays provide evidence that both GnRH and dex up-regulate the GnRHR gene via nuclear translocation and interaction of the GR with the AP-1 region on the mGnRHR promoter. We show that GnRH activates the unliganded GR by rapid phosphorylation of the GR at Ser-234 in a GnRHR-dependent fashion to transactivate a GRE reporter gene in L beta T2 and COS-1 cells. Using kinase inhibitors, we established a direct link between GnRH-induced protein kinase C and MAPK activation, leading to unliganded GR phosphorylation at Ser-234 and transactivation of the glucocorticoid response element. Furthermore, we show that GnRH and dex synergistically activate the endogenous GnRHR promoter in L beta T2 cells, via a mechanism involving steroid receptor coactivator-1 recruitment to the GnRHR AP-1 region. Our results suggest a novel mechanism of rapid nongenomic cross talk between the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axes via GnRHR-dependent phosphorylation and activation of the unliganded GR in response to GnRH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pituitary Gland / cytology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / genetics
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Receptors, LHRH / genetics
  • Receptors, LHRH / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Receptors, LHRH