Hypoosmolality produces & dramatic inhibition of vasopressin (VP) and oxytocin gene expression in the supraoptic nucleus (SON). This study examines the effect of sustained hypoosmolality on global gene expression in the oxytocin and VP magnocellular neurons of the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system, to identify genes associated with the magnocellular neuron's adaptation to this physiological condition. Using laser microdissection of the SON, T7-based linear amplification of its RNA, and a 35,319-element cDNA microarray, we compare gene expression profiles between SONs in normoosmolar (control), 1-desamino-[8-D-arginine]-VP-treated normosmolar, and hypoosmolar rats. We found 4959 genes with statistically significant differences in expression between normosmolar control and the hypoosmolar SONs, with 1564 of these differing in expression by more than 2-fold. These genes serve a wide variety of functions, and most were up-regulated in gene expression in hypoosmolar compared with control SONs. Of these, 90 were preferentially expressed in the SON, and 44 coded for transcription-related factors, of which 15 genes were down-regulated and 29 genes were up-regulated in the hypoosmolar rat SONs. None of these transcription-related factor genes significantly changed in expression after sustained 1-desamino-[8-D-arginine]-VP-treatment alone, indicating that these changes were associated with the hypoosmolar state and not due solely to a decreased activity in the SON. Quantitative in situ hybridization histochemistry was selectively used to confirm and extend these microarray observations. These results indicate that the hypoosmolar state is accompanied by a global, but selective, increase in expression of a wide variety of regulatory genes in the SON.
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