Protein kinase a serves as a primary pathway in activation of Nur77 expression by gonadotropin-releasing hormone in the LβT2 mouse pituitary gonadotroph tumor cell line

Tariq Hamid, Mohammed T. Malik, Robert P. Millar, Sham S. Kakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Nur77 belongs to a subfamily of nuclear receptors that includes two other members, Nor-1 and Nurr1. It plays an important role in a number of biological processes, including regulation of signaling functions in the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, regulation of thymocyte apoptosis, regulation of steroidogenesis and regulation of tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis. In previous studies, using DNA microarray analysis of the effects of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) on the mouse pituitary gonadotroph cell line LβT2, we identified Nur77 as one of the highly regulated immediate early genes involved in this response, with >40-fold upregulation after 1 h of treatment of the cells with the GnRH agonist [D-Ala6GnRH (GnRHA)]. GnRH is a hypothalamic decapeptide that stimulates the secretion and expression of gonadotropins (follicle stimulating hormone, FSH and luteinizing hormone releasing hormone, LH) from anterior pituitary through activation of high affinity receptors present on cell membrane of pituitary gonadotropes. In addition to pituitary, the presence of GnRH high affinity receptors has been reported in various cancers and cancer cell lines. In addition, GnRH and its analogs are clinically used in the treatment of prostate cancer. To elucidate the molecular mechanism involved in regulation of Nur77 by GnRH, we first confirmed upregulation of Nur77 in response to GnRH analog (GnRHA) in LβT2 cells. Nur77 mRNA was upregulated within 30 min of GnRHA treatment and returned to nearly basal level after 24 h of treatment. Nur77 protein expression was upregulated after 2 h of treatment and remained steady even after 12 h of treatment. The expression of Nur77 mRNA was induced by GnRHA in a dose-dependent manner. Induction of Nur77 expression was stimulated on treatment of cells with forskolin and 8-Br-cAMP, whereas H-89, a specific inhibitor of PKA pathway significantly inhibited GnRHA-induced Nur77 expression. Treatment of cells with both H-89 and EGTA completely blocked the GnRHA-induced expression of Nur77, indicating that both calcium and cAMP/PKA play an important role in regulation of Nur77 expression by GnRHA. Analysis of the protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathway using specific inhibitors for PKC, Erk1/2, p38 and JNK demonstrated that these pathways are not involved in GnRHA-induced Nur77 expression. Based on our results, we conclude that activation of protein kinase A is the major mechanism regulating the expression of Nur77 by GnRH which may serve as a down-stream signaling gene to mediate the antitumor effects of GnRH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1064
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008


  • Cancer
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone signaling
  • LßT2
  • Nur77
  • Pituitary
  • Protein kinase A
  • Protein kinase C


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