A Cell-Specific Nuclear Receptor Plays Essential Roles in Reproductive Function
Steroid hormone biosynthesis requires the cytochrome P-450 steroid hydroxylases, which act sequentially to convert cholesterol to physiologically active steroid hormones (reviewed in 1). Expression of these enzymes is generally limited to steroidogenic cells and, within these cells, is coordinated induced by trophic hormones, raising the possibility that their expression is controlled by a shared transcriptional regulator. Studies analyzing promoter activity of the 5′-flanking regions of these genes in cell lines derived from steroidogenic cells showed that multiple promoter elements were needed for full levels of expression. Notably, each gene was regulated by elements that matched the AGGTCA “half-site” motif for nuclear receptor family members (2, 3). Recent studies described here indicate that these elements interact with a cell-selective nuclear receptor, steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1), that is essential for adrenal and gonadal development and that also plays key roles at the hypothalamic and pituitary levels of the reproductive axis.
KeywordsCholesterol Zinc Estrogen Corticosteroid Progesterone
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