Timing is critical for effective glucocorticoid receptor mediated repression of the cAMP-induced CRH gene

Publication Type:

Journal Article


PLoS One, Volume 4, Number 1, p.1-6 (2009)


1932-6203 (Electronic)

DOI Name (links to online publication)



Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone/*genetics/metabolism; Cyclic AMP/*pharmacology; Dexamethasone/pharmacology; Down-Regulation/*drug effects; Forskolin/pharmacology; Humans; Luciferases/metabolism; Promoter Regions; Genetic/genetics; Protein Transport/drug e


Glucocorticoid negative feedback of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis is mediated in part by direct repression of gene transcription in glucocorticoid receptor (GR) expressing cells. We have investigated the cross talk between the two main signaling pathways involved in activation and repression of corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) mRNA expression: cyclic AMP (cAMP) and GR. We report that in the At-T20 cell-line the glucocorticoid-mediated repression of the cAMP-induced human CRH proximal promoter activity depends on the relative timing of activation of both signaling pathways. Activation of the GR prior to or in conjunction with cAMP signaling results in an effective repression of the cAMP-induced transcription of the CRH gene. In contrast, activation of the GR 10 minutes after onset of cAMP treatment, results in a significant loss of GR-mediated repression. In addition, translocation of ligand-activated GR to the nucleus was found as early as 10 minutes after glucocorticoid treatment. Interestingly, while both signaling cascades counteract each other on the CRH proximal promoter, they synergize on a synthetic promoter containing 'positive' response elements. Since the order of activation of both signaling pathways may vary considerably in vivo, we conclude that a critical time-window exists for effective repression of the CRH gene by glucocorticoids.