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  • 1 Ege University School of Medicine, Turkey
  • | 2 Ege University Center for Brain Research, Turkey
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Nicotine and cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcripts (CART) have several overlapping functions, such as the regulation of reward, feeding behavior, stress response, and anxiety. Previous studies showed that nicotine regulates CART expression in various brain regions. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this regulation are not known. This study investigated the regulatory effect of nicotine on promoter activity of the CART gene in PC12 cells, which were differentiated into a neuronal phenotype by nerve growth factor (NGF) treatment. Two vectors containing reporter genes (Gaussia luciferase or mCherry) and the 1,140-bp upstream of the transcriptional start site of the mouse CART gene are used to analyze the CART promoter activity. Transient transfection of PC12 cells with either vector displayed strong promoter activity in both undifferentiated and differentiated PC12 cells. CART promoter activity in the PC12 cell line is increased by forskolin or NGF treatment. In differentiated PC12 cells, exposure to 50 nM nicotine for 6 h increased CART promoter activity. However, treatment with higher nicotine doses for 6 h and treatment with all nicotine doses for 24 h showed no effect. A nicotine concentration of 50 nM is comparable to brain nicotine levels experienced by chronic smokers over long periods of time. Taken together, these data indicate that nicotine may exert some of its actions through the regulation of CART transcription in the brain.

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