Discrete signal transduction pathway utilization by a neuropeptide (PACAP) and a cytokine (TNF-alpha) first messenger in chromaffin cells, inferred from coupled transcriptome-promoter analysis of regulated gene cohorts

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Abstract

Cultured bovine adrenal chromaffin cells (BCCs) are employed to study first messenger-specific signaling by cytokines and neurotransmitters occurring in the adrenal medulla following immune-related stress responses. Here, we show that the cytokine TNF-alpha, and the neuropeptide transmitter PACAP, acting through the TNFR2 and PAC1 receptors, activate distinct signaling pathways, with correspondingly distinct transcriptomic signatures in chromaffin cells. We have carried out a comprehensive integrated transcriptome analysis of TNF-alpha and PACAP gene regulation in BCCs using two microarray platforms to maximize transcript identification. Microarray data were validated using qRT-PCR. More than 90% of the transcripts up-regulated either by TNF-alpha or PACAP were specific to a single first messenger. The final list of transcripts induced by each first messenger was subjected to multiple algorithms to identify promoter/enhancer response elements for trans-acting factors whose activation could account for gene expression by either TNF-alpha or PACAP. Distinct groups of transcription factors potentially controlling the expression of TNF-alpha or PACAP-responsive genes were found: most of the genes up-regulated by TNF-alpha contained transcription factor binding sites for members of the Rel transcription factor family, suggesting TNF-alpha-TNFR2 signaling occurs mainly through the NF-KB signaling pathway. Surprisingly, EGR1 was predicted to be the primary transcription factor controlling PACAP-modulated genes, suggesting PACAP signaling to the nucleus occurs predominantly through ERK, rather than CREB activation. Comparison of TNFR2-dependent versus TNFR1-dependent gene induction, and EGR1-mediated transcriptional activation, may provide a pharmacological avenue to the unique pathways activated by the first messengers TNF-alpha and PACAP in neuronal and endocrine cells.

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