The rat prolactin gene is expressed in brain tissue: Detection of normal and alternatively spliced prolactin messenger RNA

N. V. Emanuele, J. K. Jurgens, M. M. Halloran, J. J. Tentler, A. M. Lawrence, M. R. Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

119 Scopus citations


Previous work by our laboratory has described the presence and widespread distribution of a PRL-like immunoreactive protein in brain. The persistence of this PRL in brain after hypophysectomy provided substantial evidence that brain PRL represented the product of a synthetic pool separate from that of the anterior pituitary PRL. To pursue this concept of independent synthesis further, we sought to determine whether brain tissue expressed PRL mRNA. Although we were easily able to detect a single species of PRL mRNA in pituitary by Northern hybridization, we could not visualize message in hypothalamus or extrahypothalamic brain by this technique. Therefore, we performed the polymerase chain reaction on cDNAs from anterior pituitary, hypothalamus, discrete extrahypothalamic brain regions, and other tissues. Hypothalamus and extrahypothalamic brain parts, including the cerebellum, caudate, brain stem, amygdala, thalamus, cortex, and hippocampus, were all positive to varying degrees. Lung and liver were negative, and anterior pituitary was consistently positive. All positive tissues, including anterior pituitary, expressed two hybridization signals: the expected amplified product and another smaller one. The smaller amplified product is presumably the result of an alternatively spliced transcript that is missing part of the PRL gene. Hypophysectomized animals did not express PRL message in brain, but expression was restored in hypophysectomized animals treated with testosterone. Transcripts for Pit-1 (GHF-1), a transcription factor important in regulation of pituitary PRL, were not detected in hypothalamus or any of the extrahypothalamic brain parts. The finding of testosterone stimulation of brain PRL message and undetectable levels of Pit-1 (GHF-1) in hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic brain regions indicates that the transcriptional regulation of PRL in the brain is different from that in the anterior pituitary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology

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