In this study, structural analysis of grass carp prolactin (PRL) gene was performed and the signaling mechanisms for pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP) regulation of PRL promoter activity were investigated. In αT3-1 cells, PRL promoter activity could be induced by oPACAP38 which was blocked by PACAP antagonist but not the VIP antagonist. The stimulatory effect of oPACAP38 was mimicked by activation of AC/cAMP and voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channel (VSCC) signaling, or induction of Ca2+ entry. In parallel, PACAP-induced PRL promoter activity was negated or inhibited by suppressing cAMP production, inhibiting PKA activity, removal of extracellular Ca2+, VSCC blockade, calmodulin (CaM) antagonism, and inactivation of CaM kinase II. Similar sensitivity to L-type VSCC, CaM and CaM kinase II inhibition were also observed by substituting cAMP analog for oPACAP38 as the stimulant for PRL promoter activity. Moreover, PACAP-induced PRL promoter activity was also blocked by inhibition of PLC signaling, attenuation of [Ca2+]i immobilization via IP3 receptors, and blockade of PI3K/P70 S6K pathway. The PACAP-induced PRL promoter activation may involve transactivation of the transcription factor CREB. These results suggest that PACAP can stimulate PRL promoter activation by PAC1 mediated functional coupling of the Ca2+/CaM/CaM kinase II cascades with the AC/cAMP/PKA pathway. Apparently, other signaling pathways, including PLC/IP3 and PI3K/P70 S6K cascades, may also be involved in PACAP induction of PRL gene transcription.
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