Transforming growth factor- β1 (TGF-β1) has been reported to inhibit luteinizing hormone (LH) mediated-steroidogenesis in testicular Leydig cells. However, the mechanism by which TGF-β1 controls the steroidogenesis in Leydig cells is not well understood. Here, we investigated the possibility that TGF-β1 represses steroidogenesis through cross-talk with the orphan nuclear receptor Nur77. Nur77, which is induced by LH/cAMP signaling, is one of major transcription factors that regulate the expression of steroidogenic genes in Leydig cells. TGF-β1 signaling inhibited cAMP-induced testosterone production and the expression of steroidogenic genes such as P450c17, StAR and 3β-HSD in mouse Leydig cells. Further, TGF-β1/ALK5 signaling repressed cAMP-induced and Nur77-activated promoter activity of steroidogenic genes. In addition, TGF-β1/ALK5-activated Smad3 repressed Nur77 transactivation of steroidogenic gene promoters by interfering with Nur77 binding to DNA. In primary Leydig cells isolated from Tgfbr2flox/flox Cyp17iCre mice, TGF-β1-mediated repression of cAMP-induced steroidogenic gene expression was significantly less than that in primary Leydig cells from Tgfbr2flox/flox mice. Taken together, these results suggest that TGF-β1/ALK5/Smad3 signaling represses the expression of steroidogenic genes via the suppression of Nur77 transactivation in testicular Leydig cells. These findings may provide a molecular mechanism involved in the TGF-β1-mediated repression of testicular steroidogenesis.
Park, E., Song, C. H., Park, J. I., Ahn, R. S., Choi, H. S., Ko, C. M., & Lee, K. (2014). Transforming growth factor-β1 signaling represses testicular steroidogenesis through cross-talk with orphan nuclear receptor Nur77. PLoS ONE, 9(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104812