The regulation of transcription of the growth hormone (GH) gene by glucocorticoids was studied in MtT/S cells, a cell line derived from an oestrogen-induced mammotrophic tumour in the rat, and in the primary culture of the anterior pituitary gland of adult mice. The levels of the GH heteronuclear RNA (GH hnRNA), which are mainly determined by the transcription rate, increased by 25-fold during 24 h in response to dexamethasone (DEX; 1 μm) in MtT/S cells that were cultured in the medium containing charcoal-stripped serum for 7 days. The stimulatory effect of DEX on the GH hnRNA levels was detectable as early as 30 min. This rapid effect of DEX did not require on-going protein synthesis, whereas it was considered that DEX requires the presence of unknown cellular proteins produced independently of DEX stimulation. By contrast, on-going protein synthesis was required for DEX action when incubated for 6 h, as has been observed in the previous studies. The specific inhibitor of glucocorticoid receptor, RU486, inhibited both rapid (30 min) and delayed (6 h) the effects of glucocorticoids on GH hnRNA levels. Membrane impermeable glucocorticoid, corticosterone-bovine serum albumin conjugate (CSBSA), was found to have effects similar to those of DEX and free corticosterone (CS), suggesting that glucocorticoids regulate GH gene transcription at least in part through the membrane bound receptors. From pharmacological studies, it was suggested that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activation is involved in the rapid effects but not in the delayed effects of glucocorticoids. This also suggests that the delayed effects of glucocorticoids depend on mechanisms other than the activation of PI3-kinase. Finally, both rapid and delayed effects of CS and CSBSA were observed not only in MtT/S cells, but also in the mouse pituitary cells in primary culture. Therefore, it is possible that the membrane initiated action of glucocorticoids is involved in the regulation of GH transcription in normal pituitary cells, as well as in pituitary tumour cells.
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