The molecular mechanisms by which GH regulates insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) gene expression remain obscure. One difficulty has been the lack of established GH-responsive cell lines that express the IGF-I gene. To develop such a cell line, we used rat C6 glioma cells which, as determined by RNase protection assay, express the IGF-I gene but not the GH receptor gene. To confer GH responsiveness, C6 cells were cotransfected with vectors that express the GH receptor (pRc/CMV WTrGHR) and Jak2 (pRc/CMV Jak2). GH responsiveness was demonstrated using luciferase reporter genes containing either the Sis-inducible element from the c-fos gene (pTK81-SIE-Luc) or 6 copies of the GH-responsive GAS-like element (GLE) from the rat spi2.1 gene (pSpi-GLE-Luc). The SIE is activated by binding of STAT1 and 3, whereas the GLE binds STAT5. In cells cotransfected with pRc/CMV WTrGHR, pRc/CMV Jak2, and either pTK81-SIE-Luc or pSpi GLE-Luc, treatment with 500 ng/ml GH for 24 h stimulated a 3.1- and 1.7-fold increase in luciferase activity, respectively. These data suggest that in C6 cells cotransfected with pRc/CMV WTrGHR and pRc/CMV Jak2, GH activates STAT1, 3, and 5. To determine whether GH-responsive IGF-I promoter activity could be demonstrated, C6 cells were cotransfected with pRc/CMV WTrGHR, pRc/ CMV Jak2, and an IGF-I-luciferase fusion gene that contained a fragment of the rat IGF-I gene that extended from -412 in the 5'-flanking region of exon 1 to the Met-22 in exon 3. GH stimulated a modest, but reproducible, 1.7-fold increase in luciferase activity in these cells, suggesting that a GH-responsive element is present in this region of the IGF-I gene. To better localize the GH-responsive element, cells were cotransfected with pRc/CMV WTrGHR, pRc/CMV Jak2 plus one of several IGF-I-luciferase fusion genes containing either fragments of one of the two promoters in the IGF-I gene or a fragment of intron 2 that includes a GH-responsive DNase I hyper-sensitivity site. For all constructs, treatment with GH for 24 h did not stimulate a significant increase in luciferase activity, suggesting that GH-responsive sequences are not located in these specific regions of the IGF-I gene or that GH-directed transcription of the IGF-I gene is mediated via several different regions of the IGF-I gene and the effect of any one of these regions in isolation was not sufficiently robust to be detected in this model system. In summary, transient expression of the GH receptor and Jak2 in C6 cells creates a GH-responsive system that activates STAT1, 3, and 5. Moreover, a fragment of the IGF-I gene that contains exons 1 and 2, a fragment of exon 3, and introns 1 and 2 is GH responsive using this model system.