Growth factors are commonly associated with the regulation of cellular proliferation and differentiation. In established cells, growth factors can also serve as trophic agents. Immortalized LHRH neurons contain basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) receptors. Although these receptors are coupled to activation of protein kinase C, and phorbol esters are strong activators of protein kinase C-stimulated LHRH release, bFGF did not influence LHRH secretion from these cells. To clarify this discrepancy, the effects of bFGF and phorbol ester on pro-LHRH biosynthesis, protein processing, and secretion were examined in GT1-7 cells. Phorbol ester stimulated LHRH secretion, whereas bFGF either had no effect or stimulated LHRH release depending upon the antiserum used. Pro-LHRH levels in lysate and medium were depressed by phorbol esters; concentrations in bFGF-treated cells were somewhat lower than those in unstimulated controls. HPLC analyses revealed that both agents enhanced the release of LHRH intermediate products into the medium. C-Terminally extended forms of LHRH, especially LHRH- [Gly11], were prominent in medium from bFGF-stimulated neurons. Levels of LHRH were depressed relative to those in the control or phorbol ester groups. These data indicate that phorbol esters control the biosynthesis, secretion, and, to some extent, processing of pro-LHRH. The effects of bFGF are novel because this factor regulates processing of the prohormone so that LHRH- intermediate products are predominantly secreted instead of LHRH. By enhancing the secretion of these intermediates over that of LHRH, bFGF can control the biological activity of the decapeptide and regulate LHRH neuronal function.
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