Detection of hCG responsive expression of the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein in mouse leydig cells
© Springer 2004
Received: 13 February 2004
Accepted: 18 May 2004
The steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein, a novel mitochondrial protein, is involved in the regulation of steroid hormone biosynthesis through its mediation of the intramitochondrial transport of the steroid substrate, cholesterol, to the cytochrome P450 cholesterol side chain cleavage (P450scc) enzyme. The expression of StAR protein is regulated by cAMP-dependent signaling in steroidogenic cells. During the course of our studies in mouse Leydig cells, we employ several methods for studying the regulation of StAR protein expression by human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). A sensitive quantitative reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was utilized for determining StAR mRNA expression. Stimulation of mLTC-1 mouse Leydig tumor cells with hCG resulted in the coordinate regulation of StAR mRNA expression and progesterone accumulation in a time-response manner. The validity and accuracy of quantitative RT-PCR results in mLTC-1 cells were verified by a competitive PCR approach and were further confirmed in primary cultures of isolated mouse Leydig cells. Immunoblotting studies demonstrated an increase in the levels of the StAR protein in a concentration dependent manner following hCG stimulation in mLTC-1 cells. Northern hybridization analysis revealed three StAR transcripts, all of which were of sufficient size to encode functional StAR protein, and which were coordinately expressed in response to hCG. Collectively, the experimental approaches utilized in the present investigation allow for the demonstration and characterization of hCG mediated regulation of StAR mRNA and StAR protein expression in mouse Leydig cells.