Coculture of sympathetic neurons with ganglion nonneuronal cells elevated levels of preprosomatostatin mRNA but did not alter neuronal synthesis, content, or release of somatostatin. Treatment of sympathetic neurons with culture medium conditioned by exposure to ganglion nonneuronal cells similarly elevated preprosomatostatin mRNA. Treatment with conditioned medium elevated somatostatin levels in pure neuronal cultures, but not in neurons cocultured with nonneuronal cells. Conditioned medium also failed to increase peptide levels in neurons cultured on a substratum of killed nonneuronal cells, despite a large increase in preprosomatostatin mRNA. These observations suggest that contact of sympathetic neurons with nonneuronal cell membranes inhibits the increase in peptide synthesis, but not the increase in preprosomatostatin mRNA after treatment with conditioned medium. Thus neuronal interactions with nonneuronal cells regulate somatostatin metabolism at both the mRNA and peptide levels. Regulatory effects on the mRNA and the peptide are separable and do not necessarily occur in parallel, and translational controls may be the rate-limiting factors.
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