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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2006 Jun 27;252(1-2):92-101. Epub 2006 May 8.

Transcriptional activation of the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) gene: GATA-4 and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein beta confer synergistic responsiveness in hormone-treated rat granulosa and HEK293 cell models.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.


Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) mediates translocation of cholesterol to the inner membranes of steroidogenic mitochondria, where it serves as a substrate for steroid synthesis. Transcription of StAR in the gonads and adrenal cells is upregulated by trophic hormones, involves downstream signaling pathways and a cohort of trans-factors acting as activators or suppressors of StAR transcription. This study suggests that a 21 basepair long sequence positioned at -81/-61 of the murine StAR promoter is sufficient to confer a robust hormonal activation of transcription in ovarian granulosa cells treated with FSH. We show that recombinant GATA-4 and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein beta (C/EBPbeta) bind to the promoter at -66/-61 and -81/-70 and activate transcription of a reporter gene when co-expressed in heterologous human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells. In this cell model, C/EBPbeta and GATA-4 synergize in a sequence dependent manner and p300/CBP further maximizes their joint activities. Inhibitors of the transcriptional activators, such as liver-enriched inhibiting protein (C/EBPbeta-LIP), Friend of GATA-4 (FOG-2) protein and the viral E1A protein abolished the respective factor-dependent activities in HEK293 cells. Binding assays suggest that a dual binding of C/EBPbeta and GATA-4 to the promoter depends on the molar ratio of the factors present while demonstrating GATA-4 predominant association with the promoter DNA. This pattern may reflect on StAR expression at the time of corpus luteum formation when C/EBPbeta levels peak, as does StAR expression.

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