Serotonergic repression of mitogen-activated protein kinase control of the calcitonin gene-related peptide enhancer


We have investigated the mechanisms underlying regulation of the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) cell-specific enhancer. Recently, we reported that this enhancer is inhibited by serotonin type-1 (5-HT1) agonists, similar to currently used antimigraine drugs. We have now tested whether this repression involves a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway. We first demonstrate that the CGRP enhancer is strongly (10-fold) activated by a constitutively active MAP kinase kinase (MEK1), yielding reporter activities 100-fold above the enhancerless control. The involvement of a MAP kinase pathway was confirmed by down-regulation of reporter activity upon cotransfection of a dominant negative Ras. Activation of the enhancer by MEK1 was blocked in a dose-dependent manner by the 5-HT1 receptor agonist CGS 12066A (CGS). Since it is not known whether the CGRP enhancer factors are immediate targets of MAP kinases, we then used Elk-1- and c-Jun-dependent reporter genes that are directly activated by the ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinases) and JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase) MAP kinases. CGS treatment repressed the activation of both of these reporters, suggesting that at least two MAP kinases are the immediate targets of CGS-mediated repression. We further demonstrate that 5-HT1 agonists inactivate ERK by dephosphorylation, even in the presence of constitutively activated MEK1. This inactivation appears to be due to a marked increase in the level of MAP kinase phosphatase-1. These results have defined a novel and general mechanism by which 5-HT1 receptor agonists can repress MAP kinase activation of target genes, such as CGRP.

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Molecular Endocrinology