Gene Summary

Gene:CYP11A1; cytochrome P450 family 11 subfamily A member 1
Aliases: CYP11A, CYPXIA1, P450SCC
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes. The cytochrome P450 proteins are monooxygenases which catalyze many reactions involved in drug metabolism and synthesis of cholesterol, steroids and other lipids. This protein localizes to the mitochondrial inner membrane and catalyzes the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone, the first and rate-limiting step in the synthesis of the steroid hormones. Two transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. The cellular location of the smaller isoform is unclear since it lacks the mitochondrial-targeting transit peptide. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme, mitochondrial
Source:NCBIAccessed: 11 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 11 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Sulfotransferases
  • Odds Ratio
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Androgens
  • Slovenia
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Testosterone
  • Adrenocortical Cancer
  • Messenger RNA
  • Genetic Variation
  • Alleles
  • Steroid 21-Hydroxylase
  • Theca Cells
  • Cholesterol Side-Chain Cleavage Enzyme
  • Risk Assessment
  • Promoter Regions
  • Genotype
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Chromosome 15
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Receptors, LH
  • Steroidogenic Factor 1
  • Young Adult
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • China
  • Polymorphism
  • Insulin
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Breast Cancer
  • Steroids
  • Regression Analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Transfection
Tag cloud generated 11 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (3)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: CYP11A1 (cancer-related)

Usset JL, Raghavan R, Tyrer JP, et al.
Assessment of Multifactor Gene-Environment Interactions and Ovarian Cancer Risk: Candidate Genes, Obesity, and Hormone-Related Risk Factors.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016; 25(5):780-90 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Many epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) risk factors relate to hormone exposure and elevated estrogen levels are associated with obesity in postmenopausal women. Therefore, we hypothesized that gene-environment interactions related to hormone-related risk factors could differ between obese and non-obese women.
METHODS: We considered interactions between 11,441 SNPs within 80 candidate genes related to hormone biosynthesis and metabolism and insulin-like growth factors with six hormone-related factors (oral contraceptive use, parity, endometriosis, tubal ligation, hormone replacement therapy, and estrogen use) and assessed whether these interactions differed between obese and non-obese women. Interactions were assessed using logistic regression models and data from 14 case-control studies (6,247 cases; 10,379 controls). Histotype-specific analyses were also completed.
RESULTS: SNPs in the following candidate genes showed notable interaction: IGF1R (rs41497346, estrogen plus progesterone hormone therapy, histology = all, P = 4.9 × 10(-6)) and ESR1 (rs12661437, endometriosis, histology = all, P = 1.5 × 10(-5)). The most notable obesity-gene-hormone risk factor interaction was within INSR (rs113759408, parity, histology = endometrioid, P = 8.8 × 10(-6)).
CONCLUSIONS: We have demonstrated the feasibility of assessing multifactor interactions in large genetic epidemiology studies. Follow-up studies are necessary to assess the robustness of our findings for ESR1, CYP11A1, IGF1R, CYP11B1, INSR, and IGFBP2 Future work is needed to develop powerful statistical methods able to detect these complex interactions.
IMPACT: Assessment of multifactor interaction is feasible, and, here, suggests that the relationship between genetic variants within candidate genes and hormone-related risk factors may vary EOC susceptibility. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 25(5); 780-90. ©2016 AACR.

Fujisawa Y, Sakaguchi K, Ono H, et al.
Combined steroidogenic characters of fetal adrenal and Leydig cells in childhood adrenocortical carcinoma.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2016; 159:86-93 [PubMed] Related Publications
Although childhood adrenocortical carcinomas (c-ACCs) with a TP53 mutation are known to produce androgens, detailed steroidogenic characters have not been clarified. Here, we examined steroid metabolite profiles and expression patterns of steroidogenic genes in a c-ACC removed from the left adrenal position of a 2-year-old Brazilian boy with precocious puberty, using an atrophic left adrenal gland removed at the time of tumorectomy as a control. The c-ACC produced not only abundant dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate but also a large amount of testosterone via the Δ5 pathway with Δ5-androstenediol rather than Δ4-androstenedione as the primary intermediate metabolite. Furthermore, the c-ACC was associated with elevated expressions of CYP11A1, CYP17A1, POR, HSD17B3, and SULT2A1, a low but similar expression of CYB5A, and reduced expressions of AKR1C3 (HSD17B5) and HSD3B2. Notably, a Leydig cell marker INSL3 was expressed at a low but detectable level in the c-ACC. Furthermore, molecular studies revealed a maternally inherited heterozygous germline TP53 mutation, and several post-zygotic genetic aberrations in the c-ACC including loss of paternally derived chromosome 17 with a wildtype TP53 and loss of maternally inherited chromosome 11 and resultant marked hyperexpression of paternally expressed growth promoting gene IGF2 and drastic hypoexpression of maternally expressed growth suppressing gene CDKN1C. These results imply the presence of combined steroidogenic properties of fetal adrenal and Leydig cells in this patient's c-ACC with a germline TP53 mutation and several postzygotic carcinogenic events.

Sakai M, Martinez-Arguelles DB, Aprikian AG, et al.
De novo steroid biosynthesis in human prostate cell lines and biopsies.
Prostate. 2016; 76(6):575-87 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Intratumoral androgen formation may be a factor in the development of prostate cancer (PCa), particularly castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). To evaluate the ability of the human prostate to synthesize de novo steroids, we examined the expression of key enzymes and proteins involved in steroid biosynthesis and metabolism.
METHODS: Using TissueScan™ Cancer qPCR Arrays and quantitative RT-PCR, we performed comparative gene expression analyses between various prostate cell lines and biopsies, including normal, hyperplastic, cancerous, and androgen-deprived prostate cells lines, as well as normal, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), PCa, and CRPC human specimens. These studies were complemented with steroid biosynthesis studies in normal and BPH cells.
RESULTS: Normal human prostate WPMY-1 and WPE1-NA22, benign prostate hyperplasia BPH-1, and cancer PC-3, LNCaP, and VCaP cell lines, as well as normal, BPH, PCa, and CRPC specimens, were used. Although all cell lines express mRNA encoding for hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR), the mitochondrial translocator protein TSPO and cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme CYP11A1 were only observed in WPMY-1, BPH-1, and LNCaP cells. HSD3B1, HSD3B2, and CYP17A1 are involved in androgen formation and were not found in most cell lines. WPE1-NA22 and BPH-1 cells were unable to synthesize de novo steroids from mevalonate. Moreover, androgen-deprived cells did not have alterations in the expression of enzymes that could lead to de novo steroid formation. All prostate specimens expressed TSPO and CYP11A1. HSD3B1/2, CYP17A1, HSD17B5, and CYP19A1 mRNA expression was distinct to the profile observed in cells lines. The majority of BPH (90.9%) and PCa (83.1%) specimens contained CYP17A1, compared to control (normal) specimens (46.7%). BPH (82%), PCa (59%), normal (40%), and CRPC (34%) specimens expressed the four key enzymes that metabolize cholesterol to androgens.
CONCLUSION: These studies question the use of prostate cell lines to study steroid biosynthesis and demonstrate that human prostate samples contain transcripts encoding for key steroidogenic enzymes and proteins indicating that they have the potential to synthesize de novo steroids. We propose CYP17A1 as a candidate enzyme that can be used for patient stratification and treatment in BPH and PCa.

Hagberg Thulin M, Nilsson ME, Thulin P, et al.
Osteoblasts promote castration-resistant prostate cancer by altering intratumoral steroidogenesis.
Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2016; 422:182-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
The skeleton is the preferred site for prostate cancer (PC) metastasis leading to incurable castration-resistant disease. The increased expression of genes encoding steroidogenic enzymes found in bone metastatic tissue from patients suggests that up-regulated steroidogenesis might contribute to tumor growth at the metastatic site. Because of the overall sclerotic phenotype, we hypothesize that osteoblasts regulate the intratumoral steroidogenesis of castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) in bone. We here show that osteoblasts alter the steroidogenic transcription program in CRPC cells, closely mimicking the gene expression pattern described in CRPC. Osteoblast-stimulated LNCaP-19 cells displayed an increased expression of genes encoding for steroidogenic enzymes (CYP11A1, HSD3B1, and AKR1C3), estrogen signaling-related genes (CYP19A1, and ESR2), and genes for DHT-inactivating enzymes (UGT2B7, UGT2B15, and UGT2B17). The observed osteoblast-induced effect was exclusive to osteogenic CRPC cells (LNCaP-19) in contrast to osteolytic PC-3 and androgen-dependent LNCaP cells. The altered steroid enzymatic pattern was specific for the intratibial tumors and verified by immunohistochemistry in tissue specimens from LNCaP-19 xenograft tumors. Additionally, the overall steroidogenic effect was reflected by corresponding levels of progesterone and testosterone in serum from castrated mice with intratibial xenografts. A bi-directional interplay was demonstrated since both proliferation and Esr2 expression of osteoblasts were induced by CRPC cells in steroid-depleted conditions. Together, our results demonstrate that osteoblasts are important mediators of the intratumoral steroidogenesis of CRPC and for castration-resistant growth in bone. Targeting osteoblasts may therefore be important in the development of new therapeutic approaches.

Horning AM, Awe JA, Wang CM, et al.
DNA methylation screening of primary prostate tumors identifies SRD5A2 and CYP11A1 as candidate markers for assessing risk of biochemical recurrence.
Prostate. 2015; 75(15):1790-801 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Altered DNA methylation in CpG islands of gene promoters has been implicated in prostate cancer (PCa) progression and can be used to predict disease outcome. In this study, we determine whether methylation changes of androgen biosynthesis pathway (ABP)-related genes in patients' plasma cell-free DNA (cfDNA) can serve as prognostic markers for biochemical recurrence (BCR).
METHODS: Methyl-binding domain capture sequencing (MBDCap-seq) was used to identify differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in primary tumors of patients who subsequently developed BCR or not, respectively. Methylation pyrosequencing of candidate loci was validated in cfDNA samples of 86 PCa patients taken at and/or post-radical prostatectomy (RP) using univariate and multivariate prediction analyses.
RESULTS: Putative DMRs in 13 of 30 ABP-related genes were found between tumors of BCR (n = 12) versus no evidence of disease (NED) (n = 15). In silico analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas data confirmed increased DNA methylation of two loci-SRD5A2 and CYP11A1, which also correlated with their decreased expression, in tumors with subsequent BCR development. Their aberrant cfDNA methylation was also associated with detectable levels of PSA taken after patients' post-RP. Multivariate analysis of the change in cfDNA methylation at all of CpG sites measured along with patient's treatment history predicted if a patient will develop BCR with 77.5% overall accuracy.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, increased DNA methylation of SRD5A2 and CYP11A1 related to androgen biosynthesis functions may play a role in BCR after patients' RP. The correlation between aberrant cfDNA methylation and detectable PSA in post-RP further suggests their utility as predictive markers for PCa recurrence. .

Rodríguez-Sanz M, García-Giralt N, Prieto-Alhambra D, et al.
CYP11A1 expression in bone is associated with aromatase inhibitor-related bone loss.
J Mol Endocrinol. 2015; 55(1):69-79 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) used as adjuvant therapy in postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cause diverse musculoskeletal side effects that include bone loss and its associated fracture. About half of the 391 patients treated with AIs in the Barcelona-Aromatase induced bone loss in early breast cancer cohort suffered a significant bone loss at lumbar spine (LS) and/or femoral neck (FN) after 2 years on AI-treatment. In contrast, up to one-third (19.6% LS, 38.6% FN) showed no decline or even increased bone density. The present study aimed to determine the genetic basis for this variability. SNPs in candidate genes involved in vitamin D and estrogen hormone-response pathways (CYP11A1, CYP17A1, HSD3B2, HSD17B3, CYP19A1, CYP2C19, CYP2C9, ESR1, DHCR7, GC, CYP2R1, CYP27B1, VDR and CYP24A1) were genotyped for association analysis with AI-related bone loss (AIBL). After multiple testing correction, 3 tag-SNPs (rs4077581, s11632698 and rs900798) located in the CYP11A1 gene were significantly associated (P<0.005) with FN AIBL at 2 years of treatment. Next, CYP11A1 expression in human fresh bone tissue and primary osteoblasts was demonstrated by RT-PCR. Both common isoforms of human cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (encoded by CYP11A1 gene) were detected in osteoblasts by western blot. In conclusion, the genetic association of CYP11A1 gene with AIBL and its expression in bone tissue reveals a potential local function of this enzyme in bone metabolism regulation, offering a new vision of the steroidogenic ability of this tissue and new understanding of AI-induced bone loss.

Lottrup G, Nielsen JE, Skakkebæk NE, et al.
Abundance of DLK1, differential expression of CYP11B1, CYP21A2 and MC2R, and lack of INSL3 distinguish testicular adrenal rest tumours from Leydig cell tumours.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2015; 172(4):491-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Testicular adrenal rest tumours (TARTs) are a common finding in patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). These tumours constitute a diagnostic and management conundrum and may lead to infertility. TART cells share many functional and morphological similarities with Leydig cells (LCs), and masses consisting of such cells are occasionally misclassified as malignant testicular tumours, which may lead to erroneous orchiectomy in these patients.
DESIGN: In this study, we aimed to investigate the potential of LC developmental markers and adrenal steroidogenic markers in the differential diagnosis of TARTs and malignant LC tumours (LCTs).
METHODS: We investigated mRNA and protein expression of testicular steroidogenic enzymes; CYP11A1 and HSD3B1/2, markers of adrenal steroidogenesis; CYP11B1, CYP21A2 and ACTH receptor/melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2R), and markers of LC maturation; and delta-like 1 homolog (DLK1) and insulin-like 3 (INSL3) in testicular biopsies with TART, orchiectomy specimens with LCTs and samples from human fetal adrenals.
RESULTS: Expression of testicular steroidogenic enzymes was observed in all specimens. All investigated adrenal steroidogenic markers were expressed in TART, and weak reactions for CYP11B1 and MC2R were observed at the protein level in LTCs. TART and fetal adrenals had identical expression profiles. DLK1 was highly expressed and INSL3 not detectable in TART, whereas INSL3 was highly expressed in LCTs.
CONCLUSIONS: The similar expression profiles in TART and fetal adrenals as well as the presence of classical markers of adrenal steroidogenesis lend support to the hypothesis that TART develops from a displaced adrenal cell type. Malignant LCTs seem to have lost DLK1 expression and do not resemble immature LCs. The different expression pattern of DLK1, INSL3 and most adrenocortical markers adds to the elucidation of the histogenesis of testicular interstitial tumours and may facilitate histopathological diagnosis.

Lottrup G, Nielsen JE, Maroun LL, et al.
Expression patterns of DLK1 and INSL3 identify stages of Leydig cell differentiation during normal development and in testicular pathologies, including testicular cancer and Klinefelter syndrome.
Hum Reprod. 2014; 29(8):1637-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
STUDY QUESTION: What is the differentiation stage of human testicular interstitial cells, in particular Leydig cells (LC), within micronodules found in patients with infertility, testicular cancer and Klinefelter syndrome?
SUMMARY ANSWER: The Leydig- and peritubular-cell populations in testes with dysgenesis contain an increased proportion of undifferentiated cells when compared with control samples, as demonstrated by increased delta-like homolog 1 (DLK1) and decreased insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) expression.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Normal LC function is essential for male development and reproduction. Signs of LC failure, including LC micronodules, are often observed in patients with reproductive disorders.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, PARTICIPANTS: In this retrospective study, a panel of markers and factors linked to the differentiation of LCs was investigated in 33 fetal and prepubertal human specimens and in 58 adult testis samples from patients with testicular germ cell tumours, including precursor carcinoma in situ (CIS), infertility or Klinefelter syndrome.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: The expression patterns of DLK1, INSL3, chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor 2 (COUP-TFII), cytochrome P450, family 11, subfamily A, polypeptide 1 (CYP11A1) and smooth muscle actin (SMA) were investigated by immunohistochemistry and quantitative RT-PCR. The percentage of positive LCs was estimated and correlated to total LC numbers and serum levels of reproductive hormones.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: DLK1, INSL3 and COUP-TFII expression changed during normal development and was linked to different stages of LC differentiation: DLK1 was expressed in all fetal LCs, but only in spindle-shaped progenitor cells and in a small subset of polygonal LCs in the normal adult testis; INSL3 was expressed in a subset of fetal LCs, but in the majority of adult LCs; and COUP-TFII was expressed in peritubular and mesenchymal stroma cells at all ages, in fetal LCs early in gestation and in a subset of adult LCs. CYP11A1 was expressed in the majority of LCs regardless of age and pathology and was the best general LC marker examined here. SMA was weakly expressed in peritubular cells in the fetal and infantile testis, but strongly expressed in the adult testis. In pathological testes, the numbers of DLK1-positive interstitial cells were increased. The proportion of DLK1-positive LCs correlated with total LC numbers (R = 0.53; P < 0.001) and was higher in testis with enlargement of the peritubular layers (P < 0.01), which was also highly associated with DLK1 expression in the peritubular compartment (P < 0.001). INSL3 expression was absent in some, but not all LC micronodules, and in the majority of LCs, it was mutually exclusive of DLK1.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: The number of samples was relatively small and no true normal adult controls were available. True stereology was not used for LC counting, instead LCs were counted in three fields of 0.5 µm(2) surface for each sample.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The population of LCs, especially those clustered in large nodules, are heterogeneous and comprise cells at different stages of differentiation. The study demonstrated that the differentiation and function of LCs, and possibly also peritubular cells, are impaired in adult men with testicular pathologies including testis cancer and Klinefelter syndrome.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: This work was funded by Rigshospitalet's research funds, the Danish Cancer Society and Kirsten and Freddy Johansen's foundation. The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Reddy KR, Deepika ML, Supriya K, et al.
CYP11A1 microsatellite (tttta)n polymorphism in PCOS women from South India.
J Assist Reprod Genet. 2014; 31(7):857-63 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition with central feature of hyperandrogensism that affects 5-12 % of women worldwide. P450sec the cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme encoded by CYP11A1 gene is instrumental in the synthesis of sex hormones. A promoter pentanucleotide repeat (tttta)(n) polymorphism of this gene is reported to be associated with several hormone related diseases including PCOS. Here we aimed to examine the involvement of CYP11A1 polymorphism with PCOS susceptibility in a case-control study conducted among South Indian women.
METHODS: A total of 542 subjects comprised of 267 PCOS patients and 275 controls were recruited. DNA was extracted from blood and CYP11A1 (tttta)(n) polymorphism was genotyped by PCR-PAGE.
RESULTS: Fifteen different alleles ranging between 2-16 repeats were identified in the studied group and the most frequent allele observed in controls was of 8 repeats. The presence of >8 repeat allele was common in patients (64 % vs. 38 %) and showed a three-fold risk for PCOS susceptibility than controls (OR = 2.93; p < 0.05). PCOS women with higher BMI were markedly elevated in early quartile (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: CYP11A1 (tttta)(n) repeat polymorphism appeared to be a potential molecular marker for PCOS risk in our population. Gene-gene and gene-environmental interactions with respect to obesity may play a role in the early onset of this multifactorial condition. This is the first report from South India; however, replicative studies considering other probable causative factors for PCOS risk are warranted.

McAllister JM, Modi B, Miller BA, et al.
Overexpression of a DENND1A isoform produces a polycystic ovary syndrome theca phenotype.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(15):E1519-27 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), characterized by increased ovarian androgen biosynthesis, anovulation, and infertility, affects 5-7% of reproductive-age women. Genome-wide association studies identified PCOS candidate loci that were replicated in subsequent reports, including DENND1A, which encodes a protein associated with clathrin-coated pits where cell-surface receptors reside. However, these studies provided no information about functional roles for DENND1A in the pathogenesis of PCOS. DENND1A protein was located in the cytoplasm as well as nuclei of theca cells, suggesting a possible role in gene regulation. DENND1A immunostaining was more intense in the theca of PCOS ovaries. Using theca cells isolated and propagated from normal cycling and PCOS women, we found that DENND1A variant 2 (DENND1A.V2) protein and mRNA levels are increased in PCOS theca cells. Exosomal DENND1A.V2 RNA was significantly elevated in urine from PCOS women compared with normal cycling women. Forced overexpression of DENND1A.V2 in normal theca cells resulted in a PCOS phenotype of augmented CYP17A1 and CYP11A1 gene transcription, mRNA abundance, and androgen biosynthesis. Knock-down of DENND1A.V2 in PCOS theca cells reduced androgen biosynthesis and CYP17A1 and CYP11A1 gene transcription. An IgG specific to DENND1A.V2 also reduced androgen biosynthesis and CYP17 and CYP11A1 mRNA when added to the medium of cultured PCOS theca cells. We conclude that the PCOS candidate gene, DENND1A, plays a key role in the hyperandrogenemia associated with PCOS. These observations have both diagnostic and therapeutic implications for this common disorder.

Slominski AT, Kim TK, Takeda Y, et al.
RORα and ROR γ are expressed in human skin and serve as receptors for endogenously produced noncalcemic 20-hydroxy- and 20,23-dihydroxyvitamin D.
FASEB J. 2014; 28(7):2775-89 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
RORα and RORγ are expressed in human skin cells that produce the noncalcemic 20-hydroxyvitamin D3 [20(OH)D3] and 20,23-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [20,23(OH)2D3]. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably expressing a Tet-on RORα or RORγ expression vector and a ROR-responsive element (RORE)-LUC reporter, and a mammalian 2-hybrid model examining the interaction between the ligand binding domain (LBD) of RORα or RORγ with an LBD-interacting LXXLL-peptide, were used to study ROR-antagonist activities. These assays revealed that 20(OH)D3 and 20,23(OH)2D3 function as antagonists of RORα and RORγ. Moreover, 20(OH)D3 inhibited the activation of the promoter of the Bmal1 and G6pase genes, targets of RORα, and 20(OH)D3 and 20,23(OH)2D3 inhibited Il17 promoter activity in Jurkat cells overexpressing RORα or RORγ. Molecular modeling using crystal structures of the LBDs of RORα and RORγ revealed docking scores for 20(OH)D3, 20,23(OH)2D3 and 1,25(OH)2D3 similar to those of the natural ligands, predicting good binding to the receptor. Notably, 20(OH)D3, 20,23(OH)2D3, and 1,25(OH)2D3 inhibited RORE-mediated activation of a reporter in keratinocytes and melanoma cells and inhibited IL-17 production by immune cells. Our study identifies a novel signaling pathway, in which 20(OH)D3 and 20,23(OH)2D3 act as antagonists or inverse agonists of RORα and RORγ, that opens new possibilities for local (skin) or systemic regulation.-Slominski, A. T., Kim, T.-K., Takeda, Y., Janjetovic, Z., Broz˙yna, A. A., Skobowiat, C., Wang, J., Postlethwaite, A., Li, W., Tuckey, R. C., Jetten, A. M. RORα and ROR γ are expressed in human skin and serve as receptors for endogenously produced noncalcemic 20-hydroxy- and 20,23-dihydroxyvitamin D.

Hogg K, Robinson WP, Beristain AG
Activation of endocrine-related gene expression in placental choriocarcinoma cell lines following DNA methylation knock-down.
Mol Hum Reprod. 2014; 20(7):677-89 [PubMed] Related Publications
Increasingly, placental DNA methylation is assessed as a factor in pregnancy-related complications, yet the transcriptional impact of such findings is not always clear. Using a proliferative in vitro placental model, the effect of DNA methylation loss on gene activation was evaluated at a number of genes selected for being differentially methylated in pre-eclampsia-associated placentae in vivo. We aimed to determine whether reduced DNA methylation at specific loci was associated with transcriptional changes at the corresponding gene, thus providing mechanistic underpinnings for previous clinical findings and to assess the degree of transcriptional response amongst our candidate genes. BeWo and JEG3 choriocarcinoma cells were exposed to 1 μM 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-CdR) or vehicle control for 48 h, and re-plated and cultured for a further 72 h in normal media before cells were harvested for RNA and DNA. Bisulphite pyrosequencing confirmed that DNA methylation was reduced by ∼30-50% points at the selected loci studied in both cell lines. Gene activation, measured by qRT-PCR, was highly variable and transcript specific, indicating differential sensitivity to DNA methylation. Most notably, loss of DNA methylation at the leptin (LEP) promoter corresponded to a 200-fold and 40-fold increase in LEP expression in BeWo and JEG3 cells, respectively (P < 0.01). Transcripts of steroidogenic pathway enzymes CYP11A1 and HSD3B1 were up-regulated ∼40-fold in response to 5-Aza-CdR exposure in BeWo cells (P < 0.01). Other transcripts, including aromatase (CYP19), HSD11B2, inhibin (INHBA) and glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1) were more moderately, although significantly, affected by loss of associated DNA methylation. These data present a mixed effect of DNA methylation changes at selected loci supporting cautionary interpretation of DNA methylation results in the absence of functional data.

Yu M, Feng R, Sun X, et al.
Polymorphisms of pentanucleotide repeats (tttta)n in the promoter of CYP11A1 and their relationships to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) risk: a meta-analysis.
Mol Biol Rep. 2014; 41(7):4435-45 [PubMed] Related Publications
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine diseases with an uncertain pathology and the most frequent incretory disorder in women of reproductive age, often leading to female infertility. Evidence has shown that genetic factors may contribute to the etiology of PCOS. Contradictory results have been reported concerning the association between PCOS and the CYP11A1 gene promoter -528 bp pentanucleotide (tttta)n repeat polymorphism. In order to get an overall understanding of the association between the CYP11A1 gene promoter -528 bp pentanucleotide (tttta)n repeat polymorphism and PCOS, case-control studies regarding this association were extracted from MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE and PubMed and pooled for meta-analysis. In dichotomous allelic analyses with 1,236 PCOS patients and 1,306 control subjects, the odds ratios (ORs) were very close to 1. In dichotomous genotypic analyses with 1,063 PCOS patients and 1,176 control subjects, the (tttta)4 genotype may increase the risk of PCOS in a recessive model with OR 1.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12-1.85, and the (tttta)6 genotype may decrease the risk of PCOS in a dominant model with OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.61-0.93. In continuous analyses with 1,085 PCOS patients and 1,216 control subjects, the Mean Difference (MD) was -0.07 with a 95% CI -0.18 to 0.05, showing no difference between PCOS and control groups. No publication bias was found in either dichotomous or continuous analyses. Taken together, there may be an association between CYP11A1 promoter pentanucleotide repeat polymorphism and PCOS. Further research is needed to strictly confirm our findings.

Sang Q, Li X, Wang H, et al.
Quantitative methylation level of the EPHX1 promoter in peripheral blood DNA is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e88013 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
Steroid synthesis and metabolic pathways play important roles in the pathophysiology of PCOS, but until now there have been no studies on the methylation profiles of specific genes in steroid synthesis pathways that are known to be associated with PCOS. Here we used MassARRAY quantitative methylation analysis to determine the methylation levels of each CpG site or cluster in the promoters of EPHX1, SRD5A1, and CYP11A1 in 64 peripheral blood samples. We further examined the methylation level of EPHX1 in an independent cohort consisting of 116 people. Finally, we investigated the role of EPHX1 in steroidogenesis in the KGN cell line. For SRD5A1 and CYP11A1, there was no significant difference in methylation level between patients and controls. For EPHX1, however, the methylation levels of a few consecutive CpG sites and clusters were found to be significantly associated with PCOS. The methylation levels of a number of CpG clusters or sites were significantly lower in patients than in controls in the first cohort consisting of 64 people, such as clusters 13-14 (P<0.05), 15-16 (P<0.001), and 19-24 (P<0.001) and sites CpG_53 (P<0.01) and CpG_54 (P<0.05). Among differentiated methylation sites and clusters, the methylation levels of the CpG cluster 13-14 and CpG cluster 19-24 in PCOS patients were significantly lower than in controls in the second cohort of 116 people (P<0.05 for both). In addition, knockdown and overexpression experiments in KGN cells showed that EPHX1 can regulate estradiol concentrations, and this indicates a role for EPHX1 in steroidogenesis. Our study has demonstrated that methylation of the EPHX1 promoter might be associated with PCOS. This study provides direct evidence that methylation plays an important role in PCOS and demonstrates a novel role for EPHX1 in female reproduction.

Jernberg E, Thysell E, Bovinder Ylitalo E, et al.
Characterization of prostate cancer bone metastases according to expression levels of steroidogenic enzymes and androgen receptor splice variants.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(11):e77407 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Intra-tumoral steroidogenesis and constitutive androgen receptor (AR) activity have been associated with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). This study aimed to examine if CRPC bone metastases expressed higher levels of steroid-converting enzymes than untreated bone metastases. Steroidogenic enzyme levels were also analyzed in relation to expression of constitutively active AR variants (AR-Vs) and to clinical and pathological variables.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Untreated, hormone-naïve (HN, n = 9) and CRPC bone metastases samples (n = 45) were obtained from 54 patients at metastasis surgery. Non-malignant and malignant prostate samples were acquired from 13 prostatectomy specimens. Transcript and protein levels were analyzed by real-time RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. No differences in steroidogenic enzyme levels were detected between CRPC and HN bone metastases. Significantly higher levels of SRD5A1, AKR1C2, AKR1C3, and HSD17B10 mRNA were however found in bone metastases than in non-malignant and/or malignant prostate tissue, while the CYP11A1, CYP17A1, HSD3B2, SRD5A2, and HSD17B6 mRNA levels in metastases were significantly lower. A sub-group of metastases expressed very high levels of AKR1C3, which was not due to gene amplification as examined by copy number variation assay. No association was found between AKR1C3 expression and nuclear AR staining, tumor cell proliferation or patient outcome after metastases surgery. With only one exception, high AR-V protein levels were found in bone metastases with low AKR1C3 levels, while metastases with high AKR1C3 levels primarily contained low AR-V levels, indicating distinct mechanisms behind castration-resistance in individual bone metastases.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Induced capacity of converting adrenal-gland derived steroids into more potent androgens was indicated in a sub-group of PC bone metastases. This was not associated with CRPC but merely with the advanced stage of metastasis. Sub-groups of bone metastases could be identified according to their expression levels of AKR1C3 and AR-Vs, which might be of relevance for patient response to 2(nd) line androgen-deprivation therapy.

Shen W, Li T, Hu Y, et al.
Common polymorphisms in the CYP1A1 and CYP11A1 genes and polycystic ovary syndrome risk: a meta-analysis and meta-regression.
Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2014; 289(1):107-18 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: Increasing scientific evidences suggest that common polymorphisms in the CYP1A1 and CYP11A1 genes may contribute to the development and progression of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but many existing studies have yielded inconclusive results. The aim of this study was to perform a meta-analysis of published studies on the associations between common polymorphisms in the CYP1A1 and CYP11A1 genes and susceptibility to PCOS.
METHODS: An extensive literature search for relevant studies was conducted on PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and CBM databases from their inception through 1 June, 2013. This meta-analysis was performed using the STATA 12.0 software. The crude risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence interval was calculated.
RESULTS: Thirteen case-control studies were included in this meta-analysis with a total of 1,571 PCOS cases and 1,918 healthy controls. Our meta-analysis revealed that CYP1A1 MspI (rs4646903 T > C) polymorphism may increase the risk of PCOS, especially among Caucasian populations. Furthermore, CYP11A1 microsatellite [TTTA]n repeat polymorphism also showed significant associations with increased risk of PCOS among Caucasian populations. However, there was no statistically significant association between CYP1A1 Ile462Val (rs1048943 A > G) polymorphism and PCOS risk.
CONCLUSION: Our meta-analysis suggests that CYP1A1 MspI and CYP11A1 microsatellite [TTTA]n repeat polymorphisms may contribute to increasing susceptibility to PCOS among Caucasian populations. Detection of common polymorphisms in the CYP1A1 and CYP11A1 genes might be promising biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of PCOS.

Lee M, Marinoni I, Irmler M, et al.
Transcriptome analysis of MENX-associated rat pituitary adenomas identifies novel molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of human pituitary gonadotroph adenomas.
Acta Neuropathol. 2013; 126(1):137-50 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
Gonadotroph adenomas comprise 15-40% of all pituitary tumors, are usually non-functioning and are often large and invasive at presentation. Surgery is the first-choice treatment, but complete resection is not always achieved, leading to high recurrence rates. As gonadotroph adenomas poorly respond to conventional pharmacological therapies, novel treatment strategies are needed. Their identification has been hampered by our incomplete understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of these tumors. Recently, we demonstrated that MENX-affected rats develop gonadotroph adenomas closely resembling their human counterparts. To discover new genes/pathways involved in gonadotroph cells tumorigenesis, we performed transcriptome profiling of rat tumors versus normal pituitary. Adenomas showed overrepresentation of genes involved in cell cycle, development, cell differentiation/proliferation, and lipid metabolism. Bioinformatic analysis identified downstream targets of the transcription factor SF-1 as being up-regulated in rat (and human) adenomas. Meta-analyses demonstrated remarkable similarities between gonadotroph adenomas in rats and humans, and highlighted common dysregulated genes, several of which were not previously implicated in pituitary tumorigenesis. Two such genes, CYP11A1 and NUSAP1, were analyzed in 39 human gonadotroph adenomas by qRT-PCR and found to be up-regulated in 77 and 95% of cases, respectively. Immunohistochemistry detected high P450scc (encoded by CYP11A1) and NuSAP expression in 18 human gonadotroph tumors. In vitro studies demonstrated for the first time that Cyp11a1 is a target of SF-1 in gonadotroph cells and promotes proliferation/survival of rat pituitary adenoma primary cells and cell lines. Our studies reveal clues about the molecular mechanisms driving rat and human gonadotroph adenomas development, and may help identify previously unexplored biomarkers for clinical use.

Hyland PL, Freedman ND, Hu N, et al.
Genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic pathway genes and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Carcinogenesis. 2013; 34(5):1062-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
In China, esophageal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death where essentially all cases are histologically esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), in contrast to esophageal adenocarcinoma in the West. Globally, ESCC is 2.4 times more common among men than women and recently it has been suggested that sex hormones may be associated with the risk of ESCC. We examined the association between genetic variants in sex hormone metabolic genes and ESCC risk in a population from north central China with high-incidence rates. A total of 1026 ESCC cases and 1452 controls were genotyped for 797 unique tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 51 sex hormone metabolic genes. SNP-, gene- and pathway-based associations with ESCC risk were evaluated using unconditional logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and geographical location and the adaptive rank truncated product (ARTP) method. Statistical significance was determined through use of permutation for pathway- and gene-based associations. No associations were observed for the overall sex hormone metabolic pathway (P = 0.14) or subpathways (androgen synthesis: P = 0.30, estrogen synthesis: P = 0.15 and estrogen removal: P = 0.19) with risk of ESCC. However, six individual genes (including SULT2B1, CYP1B1, CYP3A7, CYP3A5, SHBG and CYP11A1) were significantly associated with ESCC risk (P < 0.05). Our examination of genetic variation in the sex hormone metabolic pathway is consistent with a potential association with risk of ESCC. These positive findings warrant further evaluation in relation to ESCC risk and replication in other populations.

Lehmann TP, Wrzesiński T, Jagodziński PP
The effect of mitotane on viability, steroidogenesis and gene expression in NCI‑H295R adrenocortical cells.
Mol Med Rep. 2013; 7(3):893-900 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mitotane, also known as o,p'‑DDD or (RS)‑1‑chl-oro‑2‑[2,2‑dichloro‑1‑(4‑chlorophenyl)‑ethyl]‑benzene, is an adrenal cortex-specific cytotoxic drug used in the therapy of adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC). The drug also inhibits steroidogenesis, however, the mechanisms of its anticancer and antisteroidogenic effects remain unknown. At present, data on the impact of mitotane on cell viability and the regulation of genes encoding proteins associated with steroids synthesis in the adrenal cortex, including cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), are limited and contradictory. In the present study, the effect of 24‑h mitotane treatment on viability of the ACC cell line, NCI‑H295R, was analyzed, identifying a decrease in cell viability and an increase in caspase‑3 and ‑7 activities. Mitotane treatment also led to decreased cortisol and DHEAS concentration in the culture media. Concomitantly, mitotane resulted in decreased mRNA levels of two cytochromes P450 (CYP11A1 and CYP17A1), mRNAs encoding proteins involved in the synthesis of cortisol and DHEAS. Mitotane did not affect mRNA levels of cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor 1A (encoding p21) and MYC (encoding cMyc). cMyc and p21 are key transcription factors associated with cell cycle regulation. However, mitotane inhibited expression of transforming growth factor β1 gene, encoding a potent inhibitor of cell proliferation and steroidogenesis. PRKAR1A, a protein kinase A regulatory subunit, is involved in the activation of steroidogenesis. PRKAR1A mRNA levels were reduced following 24‑h treatment with mitotane. Results indicate that mitotane markedly inhibited expression of genes involved in steroidogenesis, secretion of cortisol and DHEAS. Reduced expression of TGFB1 cannot account fully for the effect of mitotane on CYP11A1 and CYP17A1. We hypothesized that reduced viability of NCI‑H295R cells in the presence of mitotane may be a result of apoptosis triggered by increased caspase‑3 and ‑7 activities. Since p21 and cMyc mRNA levels were stable in the presence of mitotane, the mechanism by which caspase‑3 and ‑7 are induced remains unknown.

Sinreih M, Hevir N, Rižner TL
Altered expression of genes involved in progesterone biosynthesis, metabolism and action in endometrial cancer.
Chem Biol Interact. 2013; 202(1-3):210-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Endometrial cancer (EC) is one of the most common gynecological malignancies worldwide. It is associated with prolonged exposure to estrogens that is unopposed by the protective effects of progesterone, which suggests that altered progesterone biosynthesis, metabolism and actions might be implicated in the development of EC. Our aim was to evaluate these processes through quantitative real-time PCR expression analysis in up to 47 pairs of EC tissue and adjacent control endometrium. First, we examined the expression of genes encoding proteins associated with progesterone biosynthesis: steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR); a side chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1); and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/ketosteroid isomerase (HSD3B). There were 1.9- and 10.0-fold decreased expression of STAR and CYP11A1, respectively, in EC versus adjacent control endometrium, with no significant differences in the expression of HSD3B1 and HSD3B2. Next, we examined expression of genes encoding five progesterone metabolizing enzymes: the 3-keto and 20-ketosteroid reductases (AKR1C1-AKR1C3) and 5α-reductases (SRD5A1 and SRD5A2); and the opposing 20α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD17B2). These genes are expressed in EC and adjacent control endometrium. No statistically significant differences were seen in mRNA levels of AKR1C1, AKR1C2, AKR1C3 and SRD5A1. Expression of HSD17B2 was 3.0-fold increased, and expression of SRD5A2 was 3.7-fold decreased, in EC versus adjacent control endometrium. We also examined mRNA levels of progesterone receptors A and B (PGR), and separately the expression of progesterone receptor B (PR-B). Here we saw 1.8- and 2.0-fold lower mRNA levels of PGR and PR-B, respectively, in EC versus adjacent control endometrium. This down-regulation of STAR, CYP11A1 and PGR in endometrial cancer may lead to decreased progesterone biosynthesis and actions although the effects on progesterone levels should be further studied.

Wickenheisser JK, Biegler JM, Nelson-Degrave VL, et al.
Cholesterol side-chain cleavage gene expression in theca cells: augmented transcriptional regulation and mRNA stability in polycystic ovary syndrome.
PLoS One. 2012; 7(11):e48963 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
Hyperandrogenism is characteristic of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Ovarian theca cells isolated from PCOS follicles and maintained in long-term culture produce elevated levels of progestins and androgens compared to normal theca cells. Augmented steroid production in PCOS theca cells is associated with changes in the expression of genes for several steroidogenic enzymes, including CYP11A1, which encodes cytochrome P450 cholesterol side-chain cleavage. Here, we further examined CYP11A1 gene expression, at both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level in normal and PCOS theca cells propagated in long-term culture utilizing quantitative RT-PCR, functional promoter analyses, and mRNA degradation studies. The minimal element(s) that conferred increased basal and cAMP-dependent CYP11A1 promoter function were determined. CYP11A1 mRNA half-life in normal and PCOS theca cells was compared. Results of these cumulative studies showed that basal and forskolin stimulated steady state CYP11A1 mRNA abundance and CYP11A1 promoter activity were increased in PCOS theca cells. Deletion analysis of the CYP11A1 promoter demonstrated that augmented promoter function in PCOS theca cells results from increased basal regulation conferred by a minimal sequence between -160 and -90 bp of the transcriptional start site. The transcription factor, nuclear factor 1C2, was observed to regulate basal activity of this minimal CYP11A1 element. Examination of mRNA stability in normal and PCOS theca cells demonstrated that CYP11A1 mRNA half-life increased >2-fold, from approximately 9.22+/-1.62 h in normal cells, to 22.38+/-0.92 h in PCOS cells. Forskolin treatment did not prolong CYP11A1 mRNA stability in either normal or PCOS theca cells. The 5'-UTR of CYP11A1 mRNA confers increased basal mRNA stability in PCOS cells. In conclusion, these studies show that elevated steady state CYP11A1 mRNA abundance in PCOS cells results from increased transactivation of the CYP11A1 promoter and increased CYP11A1 mRNA stability.

Liu Y, Jiang H, Xing FQ, et al.
Uncoupling protein 2 expression affects androgen synthesis in polycystic ovary syndrome.
Endocrine. 2013; 43(3):714-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
The roles of uncoupling protein-2 (UCP2) on the androgen synthesis of granulosa cells derived from patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and normal subjects were explored. Primary human granulosa cells from 18 patients who received in vitro fertilization (IVF) were examined; nine patients had PCOS with hyperandrogenism. Primary cultures were treated with genipin, a proton leak inhibitor, guanosine diphosphate (GDP), an UCP inhibitor, and triiodothyronine (T3), an inducer of UCP gene expression. Mitochondrial membrane potential was determined using the JC-1 assay. T3 induced P450scc and UCP2 expressions and testosterone synthesis in both normal and PCOS granulosa cells. Their expressions in response to T3 treatments were correlated in the PCOS group. Differences in testosterone synthesis were observed between normal and PCOS cells in response to genipin. Increased mitochondrial membrane potential was observed in response to genipin and GDP; while T3 decreased it. Increased ovarian UCP2 expression in response to T3 treatment in PCOS may alter pregnenolone synthesis by influencing P450scc expression, thus altering testosterone production. Further in vivo studies are necessary to fully elucidate the role of UCP2 in the hyperandrogenism commonly observed in PCOS.

Ndossi DG, Frizzell C, Tremoen NH, et al.
An in vitro investigation of endocrine disrupting effects of trichothecenes deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 and HT-2 toxins.
Toxicol Lett. 2012; 214(3):268-78 [PubMed] Related Publications
Trichothecenes are a large family of chemically related mycotoxins. Deoxynivalenol (DON), T-2 and HT-2 toxins belong to this family and are produced by various species of Fusarium. The H295R steroidogenesis assay, regulation of steroidogenic gene expression and reporter gene assays (RGAs) for the detection of androgen, estrogen, progestagen and glucocorticoid (ant)agonist responses, have been used to assess the endocrine disrupting activity of DON, T-2 and HT-2 toxins. H295R cells were used as a model for steroidogenesis and gene expression studies and exposed with either DON (0.1-1000ng/ml), T-2 toxin (0.0005-5ng/ml) or HT-2 toxin (0.005-50ng/ml) for 48h. We observed a reduction in hormone levels in media of exposed cells following radioimmunoassay. Cell viability was determined by four colorimetric assays and we observed reduced cell viability with increasing toxin concentrations partly explaining the significant reduction in hormone levels at the highest toxin concentration of all three trichothecenes. Thirteen of the 16 steroidogenic genes analyzed by quantitative real time PCR (RT-qPCR) were significantly regulated (P<0.05) by DON (100ng/ml), T-2 toxin (0.5ng/ml) and HT-2 toxin (5ng/ml) compared to the control, with reference genes (B2M, ATP5B and ACTB). Whereas HMGR and CYP19 were down-regulated, CYP1A1 and CYP21 were up-regulated by all three trichothecenes. DON further up-regulated CYP17, HSD3B2, CYP11B2 and CYP11B1 and down-regulated NR5A1. T-2 toxin caused down-regulation of NR0B1 and NR5A1 whereas HT-2 toxin induced up-regulation of EPHX and HSD17B1 and down-regulation of CYP11A and CYP17. The expressions of MC2R, StAR and HSD17B4 genes were not significantly affected by any of the trichothecenes in the present study. Although the results indicate that there is no evidence to suggest that DON, T-2 and HT-2 toxins directly interact with the steroid hormone receptors to cause endocrine disruption, the present findings indicate that exposure to DON, T-2 toxin and HT-2 toxin have effects on cell viability, steroidogenesis and alteration in gene expression indicating their potential as endocrine disruptors.

Haouzi D, Assou S, Monzo C, et al.
Altered gene expression profile in cumulus cells of mature MII oocytes from patients with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Hum Reprod. 2012; 27(12):3523-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
STUDY QUESTION: Oocyte developmental competence is altered in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); is gene expression in cumulus cells (CCs) from mature metaphase II oocytes of patients with PCOS altered as well?
SUMMARY ANSWER: Compared with CCs from non-PCOS patients, the gene expression profile of CCs isolated from mature oocytes of patients with PCOS present alterations that could explain the abnormal folliculogenesis and reduced oocyte competence in such patients.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Abnormal mRNA expression of several members of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) family in CCs from PCOS patients was previously reported. Moreover, the whole transcriptome has been investigated in cultured CCs from PCOS patients.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE AND DURATION: This retrospective study included six PCOS patients diagnosed following the Rotterdam Criteria and six non-PCOS patients who all underwent ICSI for male infertility in the assisted reproduction technique (ART) Department of Montpellier University Hospital, between 2009 and 2011.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING AND METHODS: CCs from PCOS and non-PCOS patients who underwent controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) were isolated mechanically before ICSI. Gene expression profiles were analysed using the microarray technology and the Significance Analysis of Microarray was applied to compare the expression profiles of CCs from PCOS and non-PCOS patients.
MAIN RESULTS: The gene expression profile of CCs from patients with PCOS was significantly different from that of CCs from non-PCOS patients. Specifically, CCs from women with PCOS were characterized by abnormal expression of many growth factors, including members of the epidermal growth factor-like (EGFR, EREG and AREG) and IGF-like families (IGF1R, IGF2R, IGF2BP2 and IGFBP2), that are known to play a role in oocyte competence. In addition, mRNA transcripts of factors involved in steroid metabolism, such as CYP11A1, CYP1B1, CYP19A1 and CYP2B7P1, were deregulated in PCOS CCs, and this could explain the abnormal steroidogenesis observed in these women. Functional annotation of the differentially expressed genes suggests that defects in the transforming growth factor β and estrogen receptors signalling cascades may contribute to the reduced oocyte developmental competence in patients with PCOS.
LIMITATIONS AND REASONS FOR CAUTION: Owing to the strict selection criteria (similar age, weight and reasons for ART), this study included a small sample size (six cases and six controls), and thus, further investigations using a large cohort of patients are needed to confirm these results.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: This study opens a new perspective for understanding the pathogenesis of PCOS.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: This work was partially supported by a grant from the Ferring Pharmaceutical. The authors of the study have no competing interests to report.

Han X, Tang R, Chen X, et al.
2,2',4,4'-Tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) decreases progesterone synthesis through cAMP-PKA pathway and P450scc downregulation in mouse Leydig tumor cells.
Toxicology. 2012; 302(1):44-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are commonly used as flame retardants in textiles, plastics and electronics and represent a group of persistent environmental contaminants. They have been found to accumulate in human and marine mammals. Previous studies have shown that PBDEs have endocrine-disrupting properties and reproductive toxicity. However, the mechanisms under the reproductive disruptions are still not well understood. In this study, we explored the effects of 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) on progesterone biosynthesis and possible mechanisms in mouse Leydig tumor cells (mLTC-1). Our results showed that BDE-47 could reduce progesterone production and decrease the intracellular cAMP level induced by hCG or forskolin. These suggested that BDE-47 decreasing progesterone production in mLTC-1 cells may be associated with the decline of intracellular cAMP level. Moreover, our data also indicated that the site G protein in cAMP-PKA pathway may be involved in this process. Furthermore, the addition of cAMP analog, 8-Br-cAMP, could not reverse the decrease of progesterone biosynthesis, indicating that a post-cAMP site (or sites) might be involved into the BDE-47-decreased progesterone production. In addition, we found BDE-47 reduced the activity of P450 side chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc), which was companied with the decline of P450scc mRNA and protein level in mLTC-1 cells. Put all together, these results suggested that progesterone synthesis decrease induced by BDE-47 may be associated with attenuation of cAMP generation and reduction of P450scc activity.

Yamada M, Nakajima Y, Taguchi R, et al.
KCNJ5 mutations in aldosterone- and cortisol-co-secreting adrenal adenomas.
Endocr J. 2012; 59(8):735-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Adrenal aldosterone-producing adenomas (APA) are rarely associated with the clear co-secretion of cortisol. Somatic mutations of the potassium channel KCNJ5 gene, with the hotspots G151R and L168R, have been recently identified in patients with APA. However, whether APAs that secrete cortisol have these mutations remains unclear. We examined three patients with APAs showing clear autonomous secretion of cortisol who possessed a 1 mg dexamethasone suppression test (DST) with a failure of the serum cortisol level to drop below 3.0 μg/dL, a morning plasma ACTH level of less than 10 pg/mL, and suppressed accumulation in the intact adrenal on (131)I- adosterol scintigraphy, or postoperative adrenal insufficiency. Laparoscopic adrenectomy revealed all tumors to be golden yellow, and histological examination confirmed them to be adrenocortical adenomas. All these patients required replacement therapy with hydrocortisone after surgery. Sequencing demonstrated that 2 of three cases showed a mutation of the KCNJ5 gene, one with c.451G>A, p.G151R and one with c.503T>G, p.L168R. Furthermore, the mRNA levels of steroidogenic enzymes including CYP11B1, CYP11B2, HSD3B2, CYP17A1, CYP11A1 and KCNJ5 in the 3 cases did not differ from those in 8 pure APAs not showing any of the above conditions for autonomous cortisol secretion. In addition, all 8 pure APAs harbored mutations of the KCNJ5 gene. These findings suggested that at least some aldosterone- and cortisol-co-secreting adrenal tumors have mutations of the KCNJ5 gene, suggesting the origin to be APA, and pure APAs may show a high incidence of KCNJ5 mutations.

Yagishita T, Kushida A, Tamura H
Vitamin D(3) enhances ATRA-mediated neurosteroid biosynthesis in human glioma GI-1 cells.
J Biochem. 2012; 152(3):285-92 [PubMed] Related Publications
Emerging evidence indicates that vitamin D (VD) is an important modulator of brain development and function. To investigate whether VD modulates neurosteroid biosynthesis in neural cells, we investigated the effect of VD(3) on steroidogenic gene expression in human glioma GI-1 cells. We found that VD(3) enhanced CYP11A1 and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase gene expression. The induction of CYP11A1 gene expression by VD(3) was dose- and incubation time-dependent. Calcipotriol, a VD(3) receptor (VDR) agonist, also induced CYP11A1 gene expression in GI-1 cells, indicating that VDR is involved in this induction. The induction of progesterone (PROG) de novo synthesis was observed along with the induction of steroidogenic genes by VD(3). Furthermore, VD(3) enhanced all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA)-induced CYP11A1 gene expression and PROG production. This suggests cooperative regulation of steroidogenic gene expression by the two fat-soluble vitamins, A and D. In addition, a mixed culture of neuronal IMR-32 cells and GI-1 cells treated with ATRA and VD(3) resulted in the induction of PROG-responsive gene expression in the IMR-32 cells. This result shows a paracrine action of PROG that is induced in and released by the GI-1 cells. The relationship between neurological dysfunction associated with VD deficiency and neurosteroid induction by VD is discussed.

Zhang CW, Zhang XL, Xia YJ, et al.
Association between polymorphisms of the CYP11A1 gene and polycystic ovary syndrome in Chinese women.
Mol Biol Rep. 2012; 39(8):8379-85 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1) gene plays an important part in the synthesis of sex hormones and has been reported to be involved in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome. A case-control study including 314 PCOS patients and 314 controls was conducted to assess the association of the SNPs rs4077582 and rs11632698 in CYP11A1 with PCOS using the polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism method. Thereafter, 100 DNA samples were re-genotyped by direct sequencing for confirmation. The genotypic distribution of rs4077582 in women with PCOS differed from that in controls (P = 0.002). No such distributional difference was found in rs11632698 (P = 0.912). Data from our previous study of these two SNPs in another population including 290 PCOS patients and 344 controls was combined with the current data. Combined analysis (a total of 1262 participants, including 604 PCOS patients and 658 control women) showed a much more significant difference in the genotypic distribution of rs4077582 between PCOS and controls (P < 0.001). The T allele was more prevalent in PCOS patients (Odds ratio = 1.314; 95 % CI 1.122-1.540). The testosterone levels among the three genotypes for rs4077582 were different in the control group, as were the LH levels and the LH/FSH ratio. Therefore, SNP rs4077582 in CYP11A1 is strongly associated with susceptibility to PCOS and may alter the testosterone levels by the regulation of LH in different genotypes. No association was observed in rs11632698.

Sun M, Yang X, Ye C, et al.
Risk-association of CYP11A1 polymorphisms and breast cancer among Han Chinese women in Southern China.
Int J Mol Sci. 2012; 13(4):4896-905 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2017 Related Publications
Exposure to endogenous sex hormones has been reported as a risk factor for breast cancer. The CYP11A1 gene encodes the key enzyme that catalyzes the initial and rate-limiting step in steroid hormone synthesis. In this study, the associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CYP11A1 and breast cancer susceptibility were examined. Six SNPs in CYP11A1 were genotyped using the MassARRAY IPLEX platform in 530 breast cancer patients and 546 healthy controls. Association analyses based on a χ(2) test and binary logistic regression were performed to determine the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for each SNP. Two loci (rs2959008 and rs2279357) showed evidence of associations with breast cancer risk. The variant genotype C/T-C/C of rs2959008 was significantly associated with a decreased risk (age-adjusted OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58-0.96; P = 0.023) compared with the wild-type TT. However, the homozygous TT variant of rs2279357 exhibited increased susceptibility to breast cancer (age-adjusted OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.05-1.98; P = 0.022). The locus rs2959003 also showed an appreciable effect, but no associations were observed for three other SNPs. Our results suggest that polymorphisms of CYP11A1 are related to breast cancer susceptibility in Han Chinese women of South China.

Lin CW, Chang YH, Pu HF
Mitotane exhibits dual effects on steroidogenic enzymes gene transcription under basal and cAMP-stimulating microenvironments in NCI-H295 cells.
Toxicology. 2012; 298(1-3):14-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is an extremely rare and aggressive endocrine malignancy with a poor prognosis. The most common symptom of ACC is hypercortisolism (Cushing's syndrome), which has the highest mortality. Mitotane is used as a steroidogenesis inhibitor for Cushing's syndrome or as a chemical adrenalectomy drug for ACC. Mitotane induces adrenal cortex necrosis, mitochondrial membrane impairment, and irreversible binding to CYP proteins. In this study, we explored the molecular effect of mitotane on steroidogenesis in human adrenocortical cancer NCI-H295 cells. Mitotane (10-40μM) inhibited basal and cAMP-induced cortisol secretion but did not cause cell death. Mitotane exhibited an inhibitory effect on the basal expression of StAR and P450scc protein. Furthermore, 40μM of mitotane significantly diminished StAR, CYP11A1 and CYP21 mRNA expression. HSD3B2 and CYP17 seem to be insensitive to mitotane. The stimulatory effects of mitotane on CYP11B1 were more remarkable than its inhibitory effects. In contrast, the activation of cAMP signaling strongly elevated the expression of all these genes. Mitotane (40μM) almost completely neutralized this positive effect and returned 8-Br-cAMP-induced StAR, CYP11A1, CYP17 and CYP21 mRNA to control levels. After cAMP activation, mitotane did not change the levels of CYP11B1 mRNA. The present study demonstrates that mitotane can inhibit cortisol biosynthesis due to a non-specific interference with the gene transcription of steroidogenic enzymes under both basal and 8-Br-cAMP-activated conditions in NCI-H295 cells. We also identified that StAR and CYP11A1 key enzymes that participate in the rate-limiting step of steroidogenesis, were more sensitive to mitotane. In addition, the biphasic effect of mitotane on CYP11B1 was also elucidated.

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