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Genes Dev. 1994 Oct 1;8(19):2302-12.

The nuclear receptor steroidogenic factor 1 acts at multiple levels of the reproductive axis.

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Department of Physiology, University of California at San Francisco 94143-0556.


Steroidogenic factor 1 (SF-1), an orphan nuclear receptor, regulates the enzymes that produce sex steroids, and disruption of the Ftz-F1 gene encoding SF-1 precludes adrenal and gonadal development. We now study the role of SF-1 at other levels of the hypothalamic/pituitary/gonadal axis. In Ftz-F1-disrupted mice, immunohistochemical analyses with antibodies against pituitary trophic hormones showed a selective loss of gonadotrope-specific markers, supporting the role of SF-1 in gonadotrope function. In situ hybridization analyses confirmed these results; pituitaries from Ftz-F1-disrupted mice lacked transcripts for three gonadotrope-specific markers (LH beta, FSH beta, and the receptor for gonadotropin-releasing hormone), whereas they exhibited decreased but detectable expression of the alpha-subunit of glycoprotein hormones. SF-1 transcripts in the developing mouse pituitary, which first became detectable at embryonic day 13.5-14.5, preceded the appearance of FSH beta and LH beta transcripts. In adult rat pituitary cells, SF-1 transcripts colocalized with immunoreactivity for the gonadotrope-specific LH. Finally, SF-1 interacted with a previously defined promoter element in the glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit gene, providing a possible mechanism for the impaired gonadotropin expression in Ftz-F1-disrupted mice. These studies establish novel roles of this orphan nuclear receptor in reproductive function.

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