A combined reverse hemolytic plaque-in situ hybridization assay was developed to allow analysis of the relationship between peptide secretion and gene expression within individual cells. We used the pituitary lactotroph as a model system, but this strategy should be widely applicable. It can be used to test hypotheses regarding if and when peptide secretion and gene expression are coupled in any system in which antibodies to the secreted peptide and probes complementary to the mRNA are available. Using the mRNA hybridization signal to identify certain cell types, this method may also be useful in further studies on the biochemical mechanism of peptide secretion. In addition, questions regarding whether a cell known to secrete a given peptide contains other specific mRNAs and the relationship between these mRNAs and the secretion of the peptide can be studied using this strategy. We found striking heterogeneity among lactotrophs in both gene expression and PRL secretion and a lack of correlation of these parameters within individual lactotrophs under every treatment examined. We also present the first direct visualization and quantitation of the percentage of nonsecreting PRL mRNA-containing cells after estradiol treatment and in the presence or absence of the PRL secretagogue, TRH. Finally, we found that in ovariectomized rats, nonsecreting lactotrophs exhibited significantly higher levels of PRL mRNA than lactotrophs that were actively secreting PRL during the assay.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology