Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), a potent mitogenic/neurotrophic factor, controls the development and plasticity of many types of neural cells. In adrenal chromaffin cells, the appearance of bFGF protein coincided with the establishment of functional innervation, suggesting induction by trans-synaptic signals. In cultured bovine adrenal medullary cells Western blot analysis revealed 18-, 23-, and 24-kD bFGF isoforms in the cytosolic and nuclear fractions. Stimulation of acetylcholine nicotinic receptors or hormonal angiotensin II receptors or the direct stimulation of adenylate cyclase with forskolin or protein kinase C (PKC) with PMA increased the content of all bFGF isoforms. Increases in the levels of intracellular bFGF did not result in detectable presence of bFGF proteins in culture medium. Instead, bFGF proteins accumulated in the cytoplasm or the nucleus depending on whether PKC or cAMP pathways were activated. The long-term nuclear forskolin-induced accumulation of bFGF was prevented by cycloheximide or by antisense bFGF oligonucleotide and was also accompanied by an increase in bFGF mRNA. We used luciferase reporter plasmids containing the human bFGF promoter to show that the induction of bFGF resulted from transcriptional activation of the bFGF gene and was mediated by regulatory sequences located upstream from its transcription start site. Stimulation of bFGF gene expression by forskolin and PMA was synergistic and was mediated through different promoter regions. The results suggest that stimulation by cAMP and PKC is mediated through novel cis elements. The regulation of bFGF protein content also involves posttranscriptional mechanisms since changes in the levels of individual bFGF isoforms were different depending on whether cells were treated with carbachol or angiotensin II, forskolin, or PMA. The present study indicates that bFGF is an intracrine cytoplasmic-nuclear factor, whose expression is regulated by trans-synaptic and hormonal stimuli and which may act as a direct mediator of genomic responses to afferent stimulation.

This content is only available as a PDF.