GH-secreting GH3 cells lack GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) receptors. In this study we used adenoviral vectors to transfer the human GHRH receptor to GH3 cells in an effort to restore GHRH responsiveness. A replication-deficient recombinant adenovirus (AdGHRH-R) was designed to allow cytomegalovirus promoter-driven expression of the GHRH receptor messenger RNA. COS-7 cells and GH-producing GH3 cells infected with AdGHRH-R showed GHRH receptor expression on their membranes and exhibited specific GHRH binding. The addition of GHRH to GH3 cells infected with AdGHRH-R increased cAMP levels, induced cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation and restored GH secretory responsiveness. GHRH treatment also caused activation of mitogen-activated-protein kinase, induction of c-fos, stimulation of GH promotor activity, and increased cellular proliferation. These findings indicate that adenoviral vectors carrying human GHRH receptor are useful for in vitro studies of GHRH receptor biology and represent a first step toward the development of gene therapy for dwarfism caused by GHRH receptor mutations.
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