Role of the Exchange Protein Directly Activated by Cyclic Adenosine 5′-Monophosphate (Epac) Pathway in Regulating Proglucagon Gene Expression in Intestinal Endocrine L Cells

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Although proglucagon gene expression and the synthesis of proglucagon encoded peptide hormones could be activated by protein kinase A (PKA) activators such as forskolin/3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) and cholera toxin, whether the activation is entirely attributed to PKA has not been previously examined. We found that forskolin/IBMX also activate ERK1/2 phosphorylation in intestinal and pancreatic proglucagon-producing cell lines. The MEK inhibitors PD98059 and U0126 were found to repress the expression of proglucagon promoter as well as endogenous proglucagon mRNA in two intestinal proglucagon-producing cell lines and to block the stimulatory effect of forskolin/IBMX on proglucagon mRNA expression. The repressive effect of the PKA-specific inhibitors H-89 and KT-5720, however, was either not observable or much less potent. Forskolin could activate ERK1/2 phosphorylation and proglucagon gene transcription on its own, whereas forskolin plus IBMX are required to effectively activate the PKA pathway in the proglucagon-producing cells. Exchange protein directly activated by cyclic AMP 2 (Epac2, or cAMP-binding guanine nucleotide exchange factor-2) was found to be expressed in gut and pancreatic proglucagon-producing cell lines, whereas the Epac-pathway-specific cAMP analog, 8-pMeOPT-2′O-Me-cAMP, effectively stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation as well as proglucagon mRNA expression. We therefore suggest that cAMP at least partially regulates proglucagon gene expression via the Epac-Ras/Rap-Raf-MEK-ERK signaling pathway.

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