Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a peptide hormone which is necessary for the development of sympathetic neurons. Exposing a rat central nervous system glioma cell line (C-6) to the steroid hormone 17β-estradiol increases the amount of NGF secreted by these cells into the surrounding medium. This induction is highly specific to 17β-estradiol in that similar steroids do not increase NGF levels. Both NGF activity and protein levels increase upon estradiol stimulation and there is a parallel increase in NGF de novo synthesis. The estradiol effect can be blocked with actinomycin D but not with puromycin or cycloheximide. This is the first report demonstrating regulation of NGF synthesis by a steroid hormone in a clonal cell line of glial origin. We propose this system as a model system for the study of the regulation of NGF synthesis and the isolation and analysis of putative precursors to the NGF molecule.
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