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R. P. McIntosh, J. E. A. McIntosh and L. Starling


This study investigated the importance of reorganization of cell components by cytoskeletal structures to the short-term dynamic changes in LH release from dispersed sheep pituitary cells in perifusion, when stimulated with different dynamic patterns of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The changes in rate of LH release investigated were the initial response to GnRH, desensitization, change of dose–response during desensitization, and recovery of sensitivity between pulses of stimulation. Cytochalasin D and colchicine were used to modify microfilament and microtubule action respectively. To determine whether receptor movement after binding of agonist was involved in the altered responses, K+ and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) were used as stimulants because they cause LH release independently of agonist-receptor interaction.

After 3 and 48 h culture on dextran beads and 2–3 h incubation in the presence and absence of 2–48 μmol cytochalasin D/l, or 8 or 250 μmol colchicine/l, aliquots of collagenase-dispersed sheep pituitary cells were stimulated at 37 °C in tubes or in a multicolumn perifusion system with 850 pmol GnRH/l, 109 mmol K+/l or 10 nmol PMA/l. Fractions of supernatant or effluent were collected at intervals and LH concentrations measured by radioimmunoassay. Control samples were treated in the same way but without stimulation.

Maximal, reversible enhancement of LH release over the first 20 min following stimulation with all secretogogues was observed after incubation of cells in 6 μmol cytochalasin/l. Desensitization behaviour, the supramaximal response, and the ability of cells to recover sensitivity to repeated pulses of GnRH were not altered by this modifier of microfilament polymerization at 6 or 24 μmol/ml. Colchicine at 8 μmol/l caused no changes in LH release. At 250 μmol/l, colchicine reduced the initial response of cells to GnRH stimulation but its action at this relatively high level may not be specific; there was no other major change in desensitization patterns, nor recovery of sensitivity to pulsed GnRH stimulation. Each treatment affected cellular responses similarly before and after culture.

From studying the details of the dynamics of the short-term responses of gonadotrophs, we conclude that transport of cell components involving microfilaments and microtubules is unlikely to be a major limitation on the rate of LH release during desensitization, the supramaximal response, or the recovery of sensitivity between pulses of GnRH. This suggests that biochemical reactions rather than physical translocation may be rate-limiting in these processes. In addition, although inhibition of microfilament action does appear to enhance the earliest observed response to stimulation of the LH-release mechanism, this occurs after protein kinase C activation and is probably not related to impairment of processes such as polymerization and sequestration of agonist-bound GnRH receptors because the effects are also observed with K+ and PMA, stimulants acting independently of agonist-receptor interaction.

J. Endocr. (1987) 112, 289–298

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L. Starling, R. P. McIntosh and E. A. Mclntosh


The possible involvement of polyphosphoinositides in the stimulation of LH release was investigated. Dispersed sheep pituitary cells were incubated in test-tubes, or perifusedns in columns, with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and Li+, or with a phorbol ester, and the amounts and patterns of LH release over time compared.

Treatment with Li+ (10 mmol/l), which is known to increase levels of inositol phosphates in gonadotrophs, was shown to have effects only on the responses of desensitized cells, significantly decreasing the rate at which the cells desensitize (P<0·005) and decreasing the response to supramaximal levels of GnRH stimulus (P<0·01). It is suggested that these effects could be due to increased levels of inositol monophosphate, inositol bisphosphate inositol 1,3,4-trisphosphate. Responses to single or repeated pulses of GnRH at 18-, 30- and 60-min intervals were not significantly altered.

Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), an activator of the calcium and phospholipid-dependent protein kinase (protein kinase C), was specifically active in releasing LH with a half-maximal stimulating dose of approximately 3 nmol/l. Phorbol 12,13-diacetate, which is structurally similar to PMA but does not activate protein kinase C, did not release LH, except at high levels in freshly dispersed cells. The timing of PMA-stimulated LH release was similar to that for GnRH-stimulated release, and PMA was able to release greater amounts of LH than could GnRH. This suggests that activation of protein kinase C is likely to be important in the GnRH-stimulated release of LH from gonadotrophs. It also shows that the desensitization to GnRH stimulation observed after 10 min is unlikely to be caused by lack of releasable LH. Cells desensitized to maximally stimulating levels of GnRH still responded strongly to PMA stimulation, indicating that the desensitization to GnRH stimulation involves a step in the transduction mechanism before activation of protein kinase C.

J. Endocr. (1986) 111, 167–173

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L. Starling, J. E. A. McIntosh and R. P. McIntosh


We report an estimate of the rate of externalization of unstimulated receptors for gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH), and derive from this the turnover time of the unstimulated receptor. The binding of the GnRH antagonist acetyl-d-pCl-Phe1,2,d-Trp3,d-Lys6,d-Ala10]-GnRH to dispersed sheep anterior pituitary cells was non-saturable at 37 °C. Further experiments showed that the binding had two distinct phases. We suggest that these phases correspond to the initial, saturable binding to existing plasma membrane receptors, followed by binding to receptors as they are inserted into the surface membrane. The two processes are temporally distinct, and can be inhibited independently by pharmacological manipulations. The initial phase was inhibited by treatments that could be expected to reduce the number of active receptors on the cell surface (preincubation of the cells for 30 min with 100 μg neuraminidase/ml or 50 μmol GnRH/ml), and was complete in less than 30 min after the addition of the antagonist tracer. The second phase occurred continuously in the presence of tracer, and was reduced or abolished by inhibitors of microtubule function (100 μmol vinblastine/l), protein synthesis (25 μg cycloheximide/ml), or energy metabolism (0·25 mmol 2,4-dinitrophenol/l). The rate of insertion of receptors into the plasma membrane was calculated from the rate of increase of the second phase of binding. The calculated rate implies a 100% turnover of unstimulated receptors every 150 min. In contrast, previously published estimates of the rate of internalization of the GnRH–receptor complex in the rat pituitary suggest that the stimulated receptor is turned over much faster.

J. Endocr. (1988) 117, 97–107