Journal of Biomedical Science

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 509-515

First online:

Transcriptional regulation of human CYP11A1 in gonads and adrenals

  • Ing-Cherng GuoAffiliated withDepartment of Veterinary Medicine, College of Bio-Resources and Agriculture, National Taiwan University
  • , Meng-Chun ShihAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biology, Academia SinicaInstitutes of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Department of Life Science, National Tsing Hua University
  • , Hsin-Chieh LanAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica
  • , Nai-Chi HsuAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica
  • , Meng-Chun HuAffiliated withGraduate Institute of Physiology, National Taiwan University College of Medicine
  • , Bon-chu ChungAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica Email author 

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The CYP11A1 gene encodes the cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme, also termed cytochrome P450scc, which catalyzes the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone in the first step of steroid biosynthesis in mitochondria. The adrenal- and gonad-selective, hormonally and developmentally regulated expression of CYP11A1 is principally driven by its 2.3 kb promoter. Multiple trans-acting factors like SF-1, Sp1, AP-2, TReP-132, LBP-1b, LBP-9, AP-1, NF-1, and Ets control CYP11A1 transcription either through DNA-protein interaction with their specific cis-acting elements or through protein-protein interaction between each other, wherein SF-1 plays a central role in adrenals and testes. In addition to binding with its proximal and upstream motifs, SF-1 also physically interacts with TFIIB, CBP/p300, TReP-132, and c-Jun/AP-1 to specifically transmit the regulatory signals of cAMP. Other factors like Sp1 family members, AP-2, and LBP-1b/LBP-9 may be other factors that play a role in CYP11A1 transcription, particularly in placental cells. The TATA sequence could also contribute to tissue-specificity and hormonal regulation of CYP11A1 transcription. This article reviews recent studies focusing on adrenals and gonads.


CYP11A1 P450scc cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme SF-1 adrenal steroidogenesis steroid gonad transcription