Hypothalamic growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) stimulates growth hormone (GH) gene expression in anterior pituitary somatotrophs by binding to the GHRH receptor, a G-protein-coupled transmembrane receptor, and by mediating a cAMP-mediated protein kinase A (PKA) signal-transduction pathway. Two nonclassical cAMP-response element motifs (CGTCA) are located at nucleotides -187/-183 (distal cAMP-response element; dCRE) and -99/-95 (proximal cAMP-response element; pCRE) of the human GH promoter and are required for cAMP responsiveness, along with the pituitary-specific transcription factor Pit-1 (official nomenclature, POU1F1). Although a role for cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB) in GH stimulation by PKA has been suggested, it is unclear how the effect may be mediated. CREB binding protein (CBP) is a nuclear cofactor named for its ability to bind CREB. However, CBP also binds other nuclear proteins. We determined that CBP interacts with Pit-1 and is a cofactor for Pit-1-dependent activation of the human GH promoter. This pathway appears to be independent of CREB, with CBP being the likely target of phosphorylation by PKA.
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