Regulation of GTP cyclohydrolase I gene transcription by basic region leucine zipper transcription factors

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Abstract

Tetrahydrobiopterin is an essential cofactor for the phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan hydroxylases, and the family of nitric oxide synthases. The initial and rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of tetrahydrobiopterin is GTP cyclohydrolase I. The proximal promoter of the human GTP cyclohydrolase I gene contains the sequence motif 5′-TGACGCGA-3′, resembling a cAMP response element (CRE). The objective of this study was to analyze the regulation of GTP cyclohydrolase I gene transcription by basic region leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors. A constitutively active mutant of the cAMP response element binding (CREB) protein strongly stimulated GTP cyclohydrolase I promoter activity, indicating that the CRE in the context of the GTP cyclohydrolase I gene is functional. Likewise, GTP cyclohydrolase I promoter/luciferase gene transcription was stimulated following nuclear expression of the catalytic subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Constitutively active mutants of activating transcription factor 2 (ATF2) and c-Jun additionally stimulated GTP cyclohydrolase I promoter activity, but to a lesser extent than the constitutively active CREB mutant. The fact that stress-activated protein kinases target the GTP cyclohydrolase I gene was corroborated by expression experiments involving p38 and MEKK1 protein kinases. We conclude that signaling pathways involving either the cAMP-dependent protein kinase or stress-activated protein kinases converge to the GTP cyclohydrolase I gene. Hence, enzymatic reactions that require tetrahydrobiopterin as cofactor are therefore indirectly controlled by signaling cascades involving the signal-responsive transcription factors CREB, c-Jun, and ATF2. J. Cell. Biochem. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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