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J Endocr Soc. 2019 Oct 1;3(12):2236-2257. doi: 10.1210/js.2019-00266. eCollection 2019 Dec 1.

The Nuclear Receptor COUP-TFII Regulates Amhr2 Gene Transcription via a GC-Rich Promoter Element in Mouse Leydig Cells.

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Reproduction, Mother and Child Health, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec-Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
Centre for Research in Reproduction, Development and Intergenerational Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproduction, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.


The nuclear receptor chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factor type II (COUP-TFII)/NR2F2 is expressed in adult Leydig cells, and conditional deletion of the Coup-tfii/Nr2f2 gene impedes their differentiation. Steroid production is also reduced in COUP-TFII-depleted Leydig cells, supporting an additional role in steroidogenesis for this transcription factor. COUP-TFII action in Leydig cells remains to be fully characterized. In the present work, we report that COUP-TFII is an essential regulator of the gene encoding the anti-Müllerian hormone receptor type 2 (Amhr2), which participates in Leydig cell differentiation and steroidogenesis. We found that Amhr2 mRNA levels are reduced in COUP-TFII-depleted MA-10 Leydig cells. Consistent with this, COUP-TFII directly activates a -1486 bp fragment of the mouse Amhr2 promoter in transient transfection assays. The COUP-TFII responsive region was localized between -67 and -34 bp. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay confirmed COUP-TFII recruitment to the proximal Amhr2 promoter whereas DNA precipitation assay revealed that COUP-TFII associates with the -67/-34 bp region in vitro. Even though the -67/-34 bp region contains an imperfect nuclear receptor element, COUP-TFII-mediated activation of the Amhr2 promoter requires a GC-rich sequence at -39 bp known to bind the specificity protein (SP)1 transcription factor. COUP-TFII transcriptionally cooperates with SP1 on the Amhr2 promoter. Mutations that altered the GCGGGGCGG sequence at -39 bp abolished COUP-TFII-mediated activation, COUP-TFII/SP1 cooperation, and reduced COUP-TFII binding to the proximal Amhr2 promoter. Our data provide a better understanding of the mechanism of COUP-TFII action in Leydig cells through the identification and regulation of the Amhr2 promoter as a novel target.


COUP-TFII; Leydig cells; NR2F2; SP1; anti-Müllerian hormone receptor type 2; nuclear receptor

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