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Recent Prog Horm Res. 2000;55:53-67; discussion 67-8.

Autocrine and paracrine Müllerian inhibiting substance hormone signaling in reproduction.

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Department of Physiology, University of California-San Francisco, 94143-0444, USA.


Members of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) superfamily are polypeptide growth factors that exhibit diverse effects on normal cell growth, adhesion, mesenchymal-epithelial interactions, cell differentiation, and programmed cell death. This chapter will discuss the work of ourselves and others on one member of this large superfamily, Müllerian inhibiting substance (MIS, or anti-Müllerian hormone, AMH) and its role in reproductive tract development and the adult gonad. Using recombinant MIS protein, it is possible to begin unraveling the molecular mechanism of duct involution in the embryo. Our recent results suggest that MIS triggers cell death by altering mesenchymal-epithelial interactions. In addition to the developmental effects of MIS in secondary sexual differentiation, expression studies of the MIS ligand and the MIS type II receptor (MISIIR) suggest a potential regulatory role for MIS in adult germ cell maturation and gonadal function. Recent data from others suggest that MIS may act in a paracrine manner to block differentiation of interstitial cells of the adult gonad by repressing all or some steps of steroidogenesis. Our studies are highly suggestive of direct repression of steroidogenic enzyme gene expression by activation of the MIS signaling pathway. Thus, for the first time, an opportunity to define fully target genes and components of the MIS signaling pathway may be possible.

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