Corticotropic-releasing factor (CRF) is a neuropeptide that displays a variety of effects in the nervous system. CRF is the primary physiological mediator of stress responses and stressinduced disorders in the brain. The effects of acute stress are mediated in part by neurons of the locus coeruleus (LC), a nucleus containing 50% of the brain's norepinephrine neurons. Chronic stress increases the firing rate of LC neurons and increases levels of norepinephrine in this nucleus, indicating that CRF mediates the biochemical adaptive response of LC noradrenergic neurons to chronic stress. CRF induces short- and long-term changes in the physiology of neurons. Long-term effects of CRF requires changes in the expression of genes. It has been recently observed by us that CRF is able to alter gene expression using the cAMP signaling pathway.
This research project is addressed to identify genes induced following application of CRF in an anterior pituitary cell line as well as in an immortalized LC neuronal cell line using the differential display technique.
The identification of CRF-responsive genes may be important in elucidating mechanisms by which stress triggers and sustains the biochemical alterations associated with stress-related disorders.