Adrenal mitochondria and steroidogenesis: From individual proteins to functional protein assemblies

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© 2016 Midzak and Papadopoulos. The adrenal cortex is critical for physiological function as the central site of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid synthesis. It possesses a great degree of specialized compartmentalization at multiple hierarchical levels, ranging from the tissue down to the molecular levels. In this paper, we discuss this functionalization, beginning with the tissue zonation of the adrenal cortex and how this impacts steroidogenic output. We then discuss the cellular biology of steroidogenesis, placing special emphasis on the mitochondria. Mitochondria are classically known as the "powerhouses of the cell" for their central role in respiratory adenosine triphosphate synthesis, and attention is given to mitochondrial electron transport, in both the context of mitochondrial respiration and mitochondrial steroid metabolism. Building on work demonstrating functional assembly of large protein complexes in respiration, we further review research demonstrating a role for multimeric protein complexes in mitochondrial cholesterol transport, steroidogenesis, and mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum contact. We aim to highlight with this review the shift in steroidogenic cell biology from a focus on the actions of individual proteins in isolation to the actions of protein assemblies working together to execute cellular functions.




Midzak, A., & Papadopoulos, V. (2016). Adrenal mitochondria and steroidogenesis: From individual proteins to functional protein assemblies. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 7(JUL).

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