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Keywords:

  • hypothalamus;
  • osmotic regulation;
  • plasticity;
  • microarray;
  • RT-PCR;
  • in situ hybridisation.

The magnocellular neurones (MCN) of the supraoptic nucleus (SON) undergo reversible changes during dehydration. We hypothesise that alterations in steady-state transcript levels might be partially responsible for this plasticity. In turn, regulation of transcript abundance might be mediated by transcription factors. We have previously used microarrays to identify changes in the expression of mRNAs encoding transcription factors in response to water deprivation. We observed down-regulation of 11 and up-regulation of 31 transcription factor transcripts, including members of the activator protein-1 gene family, namely c-fos, c-jun, fosl1 and junD. Because JunD expression and regulation within the SON has not been previously described, we have used in situ hybridisation and the quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction to confirm the array results, demonstrating a significant increase in JunD mRNA levels following 24 and 72 h of water deprivation. Western blot and immunohistochemistry revealed a significant increase in JunD protein expression following dehydration. Double-staining fluorescence immunohistochemistry with a neurone-specific marker (NeuN) demonstrated that JunD staining is predominantly neuronal. Additionally, JunD immunoreactivity is observed primarily in vasopressin-containing neurones with markedly less staining seen in oxytocin-containing MCNs. Furthermore, JunD is highly co-expressed with c-Fos in MCNs of the SON following dehydration. These results suggest that JunD plays a role in the regulation of gene expression within MCNs of the SON in association with other Fos and Jun family members.