Grafer CM, Halvorson LM
Gonadotropin expression is precisely regulated within the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis through the complex interaction of neuropeptides, gonadal steroids. and both gonadal- and pituitary-derived peptides. In the anterior pituitary gland, the neuropeptide pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) modulates gonadotropin biosynthesis and secretion, acting both alone and in conjunction with GnRH. Steroid hormone feedback also influences gonadotropin expression via both direct and indirect mechanisms. Evidence from nonpituitary tissues suggests that PACAP may be a target for gonadal steroid regulation. In the present study, we show that androgen markedly stimulates rat (r) PACAP promoter-reporter activity in the LβT2 mature mouse gonadotrope cell line. 5'-Serial deletion analysis of reporter constructs identifies 2 regions of androgen responsiveness located at (-915 to -818) and (-308 to -242) of the rPACAP promoter. Androgen receptor (AR) binds directly to DNA cis-elements in each of these regions in vitro. Site-directed mutagenesis of 3 conserved hormone response element half-sites straddling the (-308 to -242) region dramatically blunts androgen-dependent PACAP promoter activity and prevents AR binding at the mutated promoter element. Chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrates that endogenous AR binds the homologous region on mouse chromatin in LβT2 cells in both the presence and absence of androgen. These data demonstrate that androgen stimulates PACAP gene expression in the pituitary gonadotrope via direct binding of AR to a specific cluster of evolutionarily conserved hormone response elements in the proximal rPACAP gene promoter. Thus, androgen regulation of pituitary PACAP expression may provide an additional layer of control over gonadotropin expression within the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.