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J Steroid Biochem. 1984 Jan;20(1):161-73.

Hormonal regulation of androgen production by the Leydig cell.


The control of androgen production by the Leydig cell is dependent upon the episodic secretion of hormone (LH), which is released from the anterior pituitary gland in pulses of high biological activity. This mode of episodic LH secretion supports steroidogenic enzyme activity in the testis through interaction with LH receptors and stimulation of the adenylate cyclase/protein kinase sequence, leading to phosphorylation of key intermediates in the steroid biosynthetic pathway. The plasma membrane events that are rapidly activated by the specific interaction of LH or hCG with Leydig cell receptors include increased binding of guanyl nucleotide, and stimulation of cAMP-independent, Ca2+-dependent phosphorylation of a 44,500 Mr protein, with the characteristics of the adenylate cyclase nucleotide regulatory unit. Hormonal activation of adenylate cyclase is affected by Ca2+ with the same concentration-dependence, suggesting that nucleotide-induced phosphorylation is related to activation of the catalytic cyclase unit. In addition to the characteristic increases in pregnenolone synthesis and androgen production, gonadotropin-stimulated Leydig cells show prominent changes in LH receptor content and steroidogenic activity that modify their subsequent responses to hormonal signals. Thus, after exposure to increased LH and hCG levels in vivo and in vitro, LH receptors show an initial transient increase (up-regulation) followed by a marked decrease (down-regulation) and a prolonged depletion of LH receptor sites. Large doses of hCG cause "early" (prior to pregnenolone) and "late" steroidogenic lesions (17 alpha-hydroxylase, 17-20 desmolase) that are independent of receptor loss. The early lesion is partly due to reduced activity of HMG CoA reductase, and is mainly attributable to the increased activity of an inhibitory protein factor that modulates the activity of cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme in Leydig cell mitochondria. In contrast, the late steroidogenic lesion is related to the nuclear actions of E2 produced during hormonal action. After hCG stimulation, an increase in nuclear E2 binding was accompanied by an early rise of RNA polymerase activities within 45 min coincident with the maximal increases in circulating testosterone and estradiol levels. These events were followed by the emergence of an E2-induced protein of Mr 27,000 at 3-6 h, and by reduction in the activity of 17 alpha-hydroxylase/17-20 desmolase, and a decrease in microsomal cytochrome P-450.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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