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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1999 Feb 25;148(1-2):1-10.

Retinoic acids up-regulate steroidogenic acute regulatory protein gene.

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Hormone Research Centre and Department of Biology, College of Natural Sciences, Chonnam National University, Kwangju, South Korea.


The steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein plays essential roles in the delivery of cytosolic cholesterol into the mitochondrial inner membrane, which is an acute regulated and rate-limiting step for the steroid hormone synthesis. Since retinoic acids (RAs) are known to induce the synthesis of steroid hormones in mouse Leydig cells in vitro, mouse Leydig tumour cells, K28, were used to determine the effect of RAs on the level of StAR mRNA by Northern blot analysis. The level of StAR mRNA reached the maximum in a 4-8 h treatment with all-trans-RA (atRA) or 9-cis-RA (9cRA), and the effects were dose-dependent. The effect of 9cRA on the levels of StAR mRNA was blocked by actinomycin D, which indicates that 9cRA might exert a direct effect on the transcription of the gene. Promoter/reporter constructs containing a 5'-flanking region of the mouse or rat StAR gene were prepared, and luciferase activity was assayed following transient transfection into K28 or adrenal tumour cells, Y1. The result revealed that the luciferase activity was increased by 4-5-fold in response to the treatment of 9cRA, which indicated that 9cRA participates transcriptional activation of the StAR protein gene.

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