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J Biol Chem. 1989 Dec 25;264(36):21934-42.

Cyclic AMP-dependent and -independent regulation of cholesterol side chain cleavage cytochrome P-450 (P-450scc) in rat ovarian granulosa cells and corpora lutea. cDNA and deduced amino acid sequence of rat P-450scc.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030.


We report the isolating and sequencing of three cDNA clones encoding rat P-450scc, the nucleotide and protein sequences of which are highly homologous to those of bovine and human P-450scc, especially in the putative heme and steroid binding domains. We document that different molecular mechanisms regulate P-450scc in granulosa cells of preovulatory (PO) follicles prior to and after luteinization. Luteinizing hormone/human chorionic gonadotropin (LH/hCG) and cAMP are obligatory to induce P-450scc mRNA in PO granulosa cells in vivo and in vitro. Once P-450scc mRNA is induced as a consequence of the LH/hCG surge it is constitutively maintained by luteinized cells in vivo (0-4 days) and in vitro (0-9 days) in the absence of gonadotropins, is susceptible to modulation by prolactin and is no longer regulated by cAMP. Exposure to elevated concentrations of hCG in vivo for 5-7 h was required for PO granulosa cells to undergo a functional transition establishing the stable luteal cell phenotype. Transient exposure of PO + hCG (7 h) follicles in vitro to the RNA synthesis inhibitor actinomycin D (1 microgram/ml) or the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide (10 micrograms/ml), for 1-5 h prior to culturing the granulosa cells failed to disrupt the induction of P-450scc mRNA, progesterone biosynthesis, and appearance of the luteal cell morphology. Inhibitors of protein kinase A (Rp-cAMPS; 1-500 microM and N-[2-(methylamino)ethyl]-5-isoquinolinesulfonamide dihydrochloride (H8); 1-200 microM) added directly to the luteinized cell cultures also failed to alter P-450scc mRNA in these cells, although the cells contain in vivo amounts of mRNA for RII beta, RI alpha, and C alpha, the primary subunits of protein kinase A found in the rat ovary. These data suggest that expression of the P-450scc gene in rat ovarian follicular cells is regulated in a sequential manner by cAMP-dependent and cAMP-independent mechanisms associated with granulosa cells and luteal cells, respectively.

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