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J Cell Physiol January 1, 2012; 227 (1): 288-96.

Gene expression profiling of pituitary melanotrope cells during their physiological activation.

Kuribara M , van Bakel NH , Ramekers D , de Gouw D , Neijts R , Roubos EW , Scheenen WJ , Martens GJ , Jenks BG .

The pituitary melanotrope cells of the amphibian Xenopus laevis are responsible for the production of the pigment-dispersing peptide α-melanophore-stimulating hormone, which allows the animal to adapt its skin color to its environment. During adaptation to a dark background the melanotrope cells undergo remarkable changes characterized by dramatic increases in cell size and secretory activity. In this study we performed microarray mRNA expression profiling to identify genes important to melanotrope activation and growth. We show a strong increase in the expression of the immediate early gene (IEG) c-Fos and of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF). Furthermore, we demonstrate the involvement of another IEG in the adaptation process, Nur77, and conclude from in vitro experiments that the expression of both c-Fos and Nur77 are partially regulated by the adenylyl cyclase system and calcium ions. In addition, we found a steady up-regulation of Ras-like product during the adaptation process, possibly evoked by BDNF/TrkB signaling. Finally, the gene encoding the 105-kDa heat shock protein HSPh1 was transiently up-regulated in the course of black-background adaptation and a gene product homologous to ferritin (ferritin-like product) was >100-fold up-regulated in fully black-adapted animals. We suggest that these latter two genes are induced in response to cellular stress and that they may be involved in changing the mode of mRNA translation required to meet the increased demand for de novo protein synthesis. Together, our results show that microarray analysis is a valuable approach to identify the genes responsible for generating coordinated responses in physiologically activated cells.

PubMed ID: 21412779
Article link: J Cell Physiol

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: bdnf fos hsph1 nr4a1 ntrk2