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Mol Endocrinol. 2009 May;23(5):649-61. doi: 10.1210/me.2008-0412. Epub 2009 Feb 5.

FSH and FOXO1 regulate genes in the sterol/steroid and lipid biosynthetic pathways in granulosa cells.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Erratum in

  • Mol Endocrinol. 2009 Sep;23(9):1522.


The forkhead box transcription factor FOXO1 is highly expressed in granulosa cells of growing follicles but is down-regulated by FSH in culture or by LH-induced luteinization in vivo. To analyze the function of FOXO1, we infected rat and mouse granulosa cells with adenoviral vectors expressing two FOXO1 mutants: a gain-of-function mutant FOXOA3 that has two serine residues and one threonine residue mutated to alanines rendering this protein constitutively active and nuclear and FOXOA3-mutant DNA-binding domain (mDBD) in which the DBD is mutated. The infected cells were then treated with vehicle or FSH for specific time intervals. Infection of the granulosa cells was highly efficient, caused only minimal apoptosis, and maintained FOXO1 protein at levels of the endogenous protein observed in cells before exposure to FSH. RNA was prepared from control and adenoviral infected cells exposed to vehicle or FSH for 12 and 24 h. Affymetrix microarray and database analyses identified, and real time RT-PCR verified, that genes within the lipid, sterol, and steroidogenic biosynthetic pathways (Hmgcs1, Hmgcr, Mvk, Sqle, Lss, Cyp51, Tm7sf2, Dhcr24 and Star, Cyp11a1, and Cyp19), including two key transcriptional regulators Srebf1 and Srebf2 of cholesterol biosynthesis and steroidogenesis (Nr5a1, Nr5a2), were major targets induced by FSH and suppressed by FOXOA3 and FOXOA3-mDBD in the cultured granulosa cells. By contrast, FOXOA3 and FOXOA3-mDBD induced expression of Cyp27a1 mRNA that encodes an enzyme involved in cholesterol catabolism to oxysterols. The genes up-regulated by FSH in cultured granulosa cells were also induced in granulosa cells of preovulatory follicles and corpora lutea collected from immature mice primed with FSH (equine choriogonadotropin) and LH (human choriogonadotropin), respectively. Conversely, Foxo1 and Cyp27a1 mRNAs were reduced by these same treatments. Collectively, these data provide novel evidence that FOXO1 may play a key role in granulosa cells to modulate lipid and sterol biosynthesis, thereby preventing elevated steroidogenesis during early stages of follicle development.

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