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Annu Rev Physiol. 2001;63:193-213.

StAR protein and the regulation of steroid hormone biosynthesis.

Author information

  • Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas 79430, USA. doug.stocco@ttmc.ttuhsc.edu

Abstract

Steroid hormone biosynthesis is acutely regulated by pituitary trophic hormones and other steroidogenic stimuli. This regulation requires the synthesis of a protein whose function is to translocate cholesterol from the outer to the inner mitochondrial membrane in steroidogenic cells, the rate-limiting step in steroid hormone formation. The steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein is an indispensable component in this process and is the best candidate to fill the role of the putative regulator. StAR is expressed in steroidogenic tissues in response to agents that stimulate steroid production, and mutations in the StAR gene result in the disease congenital lipoid adrenal hyperplasia, in which steroid hormone biosynthesis is severely compromised. The StAR null mouse has a phenotype that is essentially identical to the human disease. The positive and negative expression of StAR is sensitive to agents that increase and inhibit steroid biosynthesis respectively. The mechanism by which StAR mediates cholesterol transfer in the mitochondria has not been fully characterized. However, the tertiary structure of the START domain of a StAR homolog has been solved, and identification of a cholesterol-binding hydrophobic tunnel within this domain raises the possibility that StAR acts as a cholesterol-shuttling protein.

PMID:
11181954
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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