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Mol Endocrinol. 2010 Sep;24(9):1782-93. doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0044. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

Human chorionic gonadotropin stimulates theca-interstitial cell proliferation and cell cycle regulatory proteins by a cAMP-dependent activation of AKT/mTORC1 signaling pathway.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


In addition to playing a cardinal role in androgen production, LH also regulates growth and proliferation of theca-interstitial (T-I) cells. Here, we show for the first time that LH/human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) regulates T-I cell proliferation via the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling network. LH/hCG treatment showed a time-dependent stimulation of T-I cell proliferation and phosphorylation of protein kinase B (AKT), ERK1/2, and ribosomal protein (rp)S6 kinase 1 (S6K1), and its downstream effector, rpS6. Pharmacological inhibition of ERK1/2 signaling did not block the hCG-induced phosphorylation of tuberin, the upstream regulator of mTORC1 or S6K1, the downstream target of mTORC1. However, inhibition of AKT signaling completely blocked the hCG response. Furthermore, the AKT-specific inhibitor abolished forskolin (FSK)-stimulated phosphorylation of AKT, tuberin, S6K1, and rpS6. Human CG and FSK-mediated phosphorylation of AKT and downstream targets of mTORC1 were attenuated by inhibition of adenylyl cyclase. Pharmacologic targeting of mTORC1 with rapamycin also abrogated hCG or FSK-induced phosphorylation of S6K1, rpS6, and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein 1. In addition, hCG or FSK-mediated up-regulation of the cell cycle regulatory proteins cyclin-dependent kinase 4, cyclin D3, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen was blocked by rapamycin. These results were further confirmed by demonstrating that knockdown of mTORC1 using small interfering RNA abolished hCG-mediated increases in cell proliferation and the expression of cyclin D3 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Taken together, the present studies show a novel intracellular signaling pathway for T-I cell proliferation involving LH/hCG-mediated activation of the AKT/mTORC1 signaling cascade.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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