4 years ago

Estrogen receptor-related receptor γ regulates testicular steroidogenesis through direct and indirect regulation of steroidogenic gene expression

Biosynthesis of testosterone, which mainly occurs in testicular Leydig cells, is controlled by steroidogenic proteins, such as StAR and P450c17. Although estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERRγ), an orphan nuclear receptor, is expressed in the testis, its role is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the expression of ERRγ in Leydig cells and its molecular action on testicular steroidogenesis. ERRγ is expressed in mouse Leydig cells from pre-pubertal stages. ERRγ overexpression in primary Leydig cells elevated the production of testosterone with a marked increase of P450c17 expression at both mRNA and protein levels, albeit decreased expression of StAR. Promoter-reporter analyses showed that ERRγ directly regulated the P450c17 promoter. Further deletion mutant analyses of the P450c17 promoter revealed that ERRγ activated expression of the P450c17 gene by binding to an ERRγ response element within the P450c17 promoter. Meanwhile, ERRγ suppressed cAMP-induced activation of the StAR promoter, which was likely due to ERRγ-mediated inhibition of the transcriptional activity of Nur77, which is induced by cAMP and regulates StAR gene expression in Leydig cells. Interestingly, ERRγ coexpression also decreased the protein level of Nur77, which occurred through proteasomal degradation, suggesting ERRγ-mediated regulation of steroidogenesis at another level. Taken together, these findings suggest that ERRγ regulates testicular steroidogenesis, both directly controlling and indirectly fine-tuning the expression of steroidogenic genes.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0303720717302502

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