Research IndicatorsGraph generated 31 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.
Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic. Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 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).
OMIM, Johns Hopkin University
Referenced article focusing on the relationship between phenotype and genotype.
International Cancer Genome Consortium.
Summary of gene and mutations by cancer type from ICGC
Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, NCI
COSMIC, Sanger Institute
Somatic mutation information and related details
GEO Profiles, NCBI
Search the gene expression profiles from curated DataSets in the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) repository.
Latest Publications: CYP11A1 (cancer-related)
Vitamin D is a precursor for secosteroidal hormones, which demonstrate pleiotropic biological activities, including the regulation of growth and the differentiation of normal and malignant cells. Our previous studies have indicated that the inhibition of melanoma proliferation by a short side-chain, low calcemic analog of vitamin D-21(OH)pD is not fully dependent on the expression of vitamin D receptor (VDR). We have examined the effects of classic vitamin D metabolites, 1,25(OH)₂D₃ and 25(OH)D₃, and two low calcemic vitamin D analogs, (21(OH)pD and calcipotriol), on proliferation, mRNA expression and vitamin D receptor (VDR) translocation in three human melanoma cell lines: WM98, A375 and SK-MEL-188b (subline b of SK-MEL-188, which lost responsiveness to 1,25(OH)₂D₃ and became VDR
Vitamin D, traditionally known as an essential nutrient, is a precursor of a potent steroid hormone that regulates a broad spectrum of physiological processes. In addition to its classical roles in bone metabolism, epidemiological, preclinical, and cellular research during the last decades, it revealed that vitamin D may play a key role in the prevention and treatment of many extra-skeletal diseases such as cancer. Vitamin D, as a prohormone, undergoes two-step metabolism in liver and kidney to produce a biologically active metabolite, calcitriol, which binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) for the regulation of expression of diverse genes. In addition, recent studies have revealed that vitamin D can also be metabolized and activated through a CYP11A1-driven non-canonical metabolic pathway. Numerous anticancer properties of vitamin D have been proposed, with diverse effects on cancer development and progression. However, accumulating data suggest that the metabolism and functions of vitamin D are dysregulated in many types of cancer, conferring resistance to the antitumorigenic effects of vitamin D and thereby contributing to the development and progression of cancer. Thus, understanding dysregulated vitamin D metabolism and function in cancer will be critical for the development of promising new strategies for successful vitamin D-based cancer therapy.
Feng Y, Shi J, Jiao Z, et al.Mechanism of bisphenol AF-induced progesterone inhibition in human chorionic gonadotrophin-stimulated mouse Leydig tumor cell line (mLTC-1) cells.
Environ Toxicol. 2018; 33(6):670-678 [PubMed
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Bisphenol AF (BPAF) has been shown to inhibit testicular steroidogenesis in male rats. However, the precise mechanisms related to the toxic effects of BPAF on reproduction remain poorly understood. In the present study, a mouse Leydig tumor cell line (mLTC-1) was used as a model to investigate the mechanism of steroidogenic inhibition and to identify the molecular target of BPAF. Levels of progesterone and the concentration of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) in cells exposed to BPAF were detected, and expression of key genes and proteins in steroid biosynthesis was assessed. The results showed that BPAF exposure decreased human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG)-stimulated progesterone production in a dose-dependent manner. The 24-h IC
PURPOSE: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex multifactorial endocrine disorder affecting approximately 5-10% of women of reproductive age. Affected women have menstrual disturbances due to anovulation, infertility, and hyperandrogenism. Ovarian androgen overproduction is the key physiopathologic feature of PCOS. A number of genes encoding major enzymes of the androgen metabolic pathways, such as HSD17B6, CYP19A1, CYP11A1, CYP17A1, and INSR, have been examined. Very few studies have been done in North India. There is an increasing prevalence of PCOS in women in Punjab and it is the leading cause of female infertility. In view of the strong evidence implicating the importance of CYP19A1 and CYP17A1 in androgen metabolic pathways, we investigated the association of rs700519, rs2414096, and rs743572 (- 34T>C) polymorphisms on susceptibility of developing PCOS, in North India.
METHODS: A total of 500 subjects (women of reproductive age) including 250 PCOS cases and 250 healthy age-matched controls were included in the present study. DNA was extracted from venous blood for all samples, and association analysis for rs2414096, rs700519, and rs743572 was done by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) technique. Lipid profile was done using a biochemical analyzer and body mass index (BMI) was measured for all cases. Statistical analysis was performed.
RESULTS: Significant association of - 34T>C polymorphism of CYP17A1 was found with PCOS (p = 0.0005). BMI was statistically different between PCOS cases and controls (p = 0.000). Triglycerides were high in PCOS women. Variations of CYP19A1 were not statistically significant with PCOS.
CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that - 34T>C polymorphism in CYP17A1 is associated with PCOS in North India. No polymorphism of CYP19A1 was found to be associated.
Liu F, Gong R, Lv X, Li HThe expression profiling and ontology analysis of non-coding RNAs in dexamethasone induced steatosis in hepatoma cell.
Gene. 2018; 650:19-26 [PubMed
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Increasing amounts of evidence have indicated that non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have important regulatory potential in various biological processes. However, the contribution of ncRNAs, especially long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) to drug induced steatosis remain largely unknown. The aim of this study is to investigate miRNA, lncRNA and mRNA expression profiles and their potential roles in the process of drug induced steatosis. Microarray expression profiles of miRNAs, lncRNAs and mRNAs were determined in dexamethasone treated HepG2 cell as well as control cell. Differential expression, pathway and gene network analyses were developed to identify possible functional RNA molecules in dexamethasone induced steatosis. Compared with control HepG2 cell, 652 lncRNAs (528 up-regulated and 124 down-regulated), 655 mRNAs (527 upregulated and 128 down-regulated) and 114 miRNAs (55 miRNAs up-regulated and 59 down-regulated) were differentially expressed in dexamethasone treated HepG2 cell. Pathway analysis showed that the fatty acid biosynthesis, insulin resistance, PPAR signaling pathway, regulation of lipolysis in adipocytes, carbohydrate digestion and absorption, steroid hormone biosynthesis signaling pathways had a close relationship with dexamethasone induced steatosis. 10 highly dysregulated mRNAs and 20 miRNAs, which are closely related to lipid metabolism, were identified and validated by PCR, which followed by ceRNA analysis. CeRNA network analysis identified 5 lipid metabolism related genes, including CYP7A1, CYP11A1, PDK4, ABHD5, ACSL1. It also identified 12 miRNAs (miR-23a-3p, miR-519d-3p, miR-4328, miR-15b-5p etc.) and 177 lncRNAs (ENST00000508884, ENST00000608794, ENST00000568457 etc.). Our results provide a foundation and an expansive view of the roles and mechanisms of ncRNAs in dexamethasone induced steatosis.
Belani M, Deo A, Shah P, et al.Differential insulin and steroidogenic signaling in insulin resistant and non-insulin resistant human luteinized granulosa cells-A study in PCOS patients.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2018; 178:283-292 [PubMed
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Insulin resistance (IR) is one of the significant aberrations in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), however is only observed in 70%-80% of obese PCOS and 20%-25% of lean PCOS. Hyperinsulinemia accompanies PCOS-IR along with hyperandrogenemia against normal insulin and androgen levels in PCOS-non insulin resistance (NIR). This could possibly be due to defects in the downstream signaling pathways. The study thus aims to unravel insulin and steroidogenic signaling pathways in luteinized granulosa cells isolated from PCOS-IR and NIR vs matched controls. Luteinized granulosa cells from 30 controls and 39 PCOS were classified for IR based on a novel method of down regulation of protein expression of insulin receptor-β (INSR- β) as shown in our previous paper. We evaluated expression of molecules involved in insulin, steroidogenic signaling and lipid metabolism in luteinized granulosa cells followed by analysis of estradiol, progesterone and testosterone in follicular fluid. Protein expression of INSR- β, pIRS (ser 307), PI(3)K, PKC-ζ, pAkt, ERK1/2, pP38MAPK and gene expression of IGF showed differential expression in the two groups. Increased protein expression of PPAR-γ was accompanied by up regulation in SREBP1c, FAS, CPT-1 and ACC-1 genes in PCOS-IR group. Expression of StAR, CYP19A1, 17 β- HSD and 3 β- HSD demonstrated significant decrease along with increase in CYP11A1, FSH-R and LH-R in both the groups. Follicular fluid testosterone increased and progesterone decreased in PCOS-IR group. This study shows how candidate molecules that were differentially expressed, aid in designing targeted therapy against the two phenotypes of PCOS.
Melanoma represents a significant clinical problem affecting a large segment of the population with a relatively high incidence and mortality rate. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is an important etiological factor in malignant transformation of melanocytes and melanoma development. UVB, while being a full carcinogen in melanomagenesis, is also necessary for the cutaneous production of vitamin D3 (D3). Calcitriol (1,25(OH)
Innocenti F, Cerquetti L, Pezzilli S, et al.Effect of mitotane on mouse ovarian follicle development and fertility.
J Endocrinol. 2017; 234(1):29-39 [PubMed
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Mitotane (MTT) is an adrenolytic drug used in advanced and adjuvant treatment of adrenocortical carcinoma, in Cushing's disease and in ectopic syndrome. However, knowledge about its effects on the ovary is still scarce. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of MTT on the ovary using
Tremblay PG, Sirard MATranscriptomic analysis of gene cascades involved in protein kinase A and C signaling in the KGN line of human ovarian granulosa tumor cells†.
Biol Reprod. 2017; 96(4):855-865 [PubMed
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The developmental competence of an oocyte is its capacity to resume maturation, undergo successful fertilization, and reach the blastocyst stage. This competence is acquired through interaction with somatic cells of the follicle. Cumulus and granulosa cells support oocyte development, while the oocyte influences follicular cell growth and differentiation. Studies suggest that follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone play an essential role in oocyte competence acquisition through signaling initiated by protein kinases A and C (PKA and PKC) in granulosa cells. Using a microarray and RT-qPCR, the transcriptome of human granulosa-like tumor cells (KGN) treated for 24 h with forskolin (FSK) or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) was analyzed to determine the effects of PKA and PKC stimulation on gene expression. Protein-kinase-driven signaling appeared to involve five major upstream regulators, namely epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF2), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Gene associations with seven major ovarian functions were identified: Prostaglandin- endoperoxide synthase 2 (PTGS2), interleukin 8 (IL8), and interleukin 6 (IL6) with inflammation; Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (STAR), cytochrome P450scc (CYP11A1), and cytochrome P450 family 19 subfamily A member 1 (CYP19A1) with steroidogenesis; Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGFC), Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA), and C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) with angiogenesis; Amphiregulin (AREG), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and sprouty RTK signaling antagonist 2 (SPRY2) with differentiation, BCL2 associated X (BAX), BCL2 like 12 (BCL2L12), and caspase 1(CASP1) with apoptosis, Cyclin D1 (CCND1), cyclin B1 (CCNB1), and cyclin B2 (CCNB2) with division; and Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP1), Matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP9), and TIMP metallopeptidase inhibitor 1 (TIMP1) with ovulation. Overall, these results indicate that signaling via both PKA and PKC potentiates gene regulation of functions such as inflammation and apoptosis, while functions such as differentiation, ovulation and angiogenesis are partial to one kinase or the other. These results improve understanding of the pathways underlying the most important changes that occur in the follicle prior to ovulation.
Ultraviolet B (UVB), in addition to having carcinogenic activity, is required for the production of vitamin D3 (D3) in the skin which supplies >90% of the body's requirement. Vitamin D is activated through hydroxylation by 25-hydroxylases (CYP2R1 or CYP27A1) and 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1) to produce 1,25(OH)
Zhang CL, Wang H, Yan CY, et al.Deregulation of RUNX2 by miR-320a deficiency impairs steroidogenesis in cumulus granulosa cells from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017; 482(4):1469-1476 [PubMed
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Deregulation of epigenetic modification by microRNAs (miRNAs) contributes to the development of estrogen deficiency, a hallmark of the multigenic endocrine disorder polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but its etiology remains unclear. Previous study has pointed to a tight association between miR-320a expression and oocyte development in human follicular fluid. Given that the bi-directional communication existing between cumulus cells (CCs) and follicular fluid is essential for ovarian steroidogenesis and CCs are the main site where estrogen is finally synthesized, it is intriguing to know whether miR-320a have any regulatory roles in this unique cell. Here we report that miR-320a expression is significantly down-regulated in primary CCs from PCOS patients and this down-regulation promotes estrogen deficiency in CCs. From a mechanistic standpoint, IGF1 regulates miR-320a expression in CCs, and miR-320a could potentiate the steroidogenesis in CCs through modulation of CYP11A1 and CYP19A1 expression, by directly targeting 3'untranslated region (3'UTR) of the osteogenic transcription factor RUNX2. Overall, our results strongly suggest that deregulation of miR-320a/RUNX2/CYP11A1 (CYP19A1) cascade plays an important role in the development of estrogen deficiency in human CCs. Testing patients for miR-320a/RUNX2 expression ratios may provide more accurate diagnostic information and could influence the recommended course of treatment for PCOS.
Androgens, estrogens, progesterone and related signals are reported to be involved in the pathology of gastric cancer. However, varied conclusions exist based on serum hormone levels, receptor expressions, and in vitro or in vivo studies. This report used a web-based gene survival analyzer to evaluate biochemical processes, including cholesterol importing via lipoprotein/receptors (L/R route), steroidogenic enzymes, and steroid receptors, in gastric cancer patients prognosis. The sex hormone receptors (androgen receptor, progesterone receptor, and estrogen receptor ESR1 or ESR2), L/R route (low/high-density lipoprotein receptors, LDLR/LRP6/SR-B1 and lipoprotein lipase, LPL) and steroidogenic enzymes (CYP11A1, HSD3B1, CYP17, HSD17B1, HSD3B1, CYP19A1 and SRD5A1) were associated with 5-year survival of gastric cancer patients. The AR, PR, ESR1 and ESR2 are progression promoters, as are the L/R route LDLR, LRP6, SR-B1 and LPL. It was found that CYP11A1, HSD3B1, CYP17, HSD17B1 and CYP19A1 promote progression, but dihydrotestosterone (DHT) converting enzyme SRD5A1 suppresses progression. Analyzing steroidogenic lipidome with a hazard ratio score algorithm found that CYP19A1 is the progression confounder in surgery, HER2 positive or negative patients. Finally, in the other patient cohort from TCGA, CYP19A1 was expressed higher in the tumor compared to that in normal counterparts, and also promoted progression. Lastly, exemestrane (type II aromatase inhibitor) dramatically suppress GCa cell growth in pharmacological tolerable doses in vitro. This work depicts a route-specific outside-in delivery of cholesterol to promote disease progression, implicating a host-to-tumor macroenvironmental regulation. The result indicating lipoprotein-mediated cholesterol entry and steroidogenesis are GCa progression biosignatures. And the exemestrane clinical trial in GCa patients of unmet medical needs is suggested.
Haznedaroglu IC, Malkan UYLocal bone marrow renin-angiotensin system in the genesis of leukemia and other malignancies.
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016; 20(19):4089-4111 [PubMed
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The existence of a local renin-angiotensin system (RAS) specific to the hematopoietic bone marrow (BM) microenvironment had been proposed two decades ago. Most of the RAS molecules including ACE, ACE2, AGT, AGTR1, AGTR2, AKR1C4, AKR1D1, ANPEP, ATP6AP2, CMA1, CPA3, CTSA, CTSD, CTSG, CYP11A1, CYP11B1, CYP11B2, CYP17A1, CYP21A2, DPP3, EGFR, ENPEP, GPER, HSD11B1, HSD11B2, IGF2R, KLK1, LNPEP, MAS1, MME, NR3C1, NR3C2, PREP, REN, RNPEP, and THOP1 are locally present in the BM microenvironment. Local BM RAS peptides control the hematopoietic niche, myelopoiesis, erythropoiesis, thrombopoiesis and the development of other cellular lineages. Local BM RAS is important in hematopoietic stem cell biology and microenvironment. Angiotensin II regulates the proliferation, differentiation, and engraftment of hematopoietic stem cells. Activation of Mas receptor or ACE2 promotes proliferation of CD34+ cells. BM contains a progenitor that expresses renin throughout development. Angiotensin II attenuates the migration and proliferation of CD34+ Cells and promotes the adhesion of both MNCs and CD34+ cells. Renin cells in hematopoietic organs are precursor B cells. The renin cell requires RBP-J to differentiate. Mutant renin-expressing hematopoietic precursors can cause leukemia. Deletion of RBP-J in the renin-expressing progenitors enriches the precursor B-cell gene programme. Mutant cells undergo a neoplastic transformation, and mice develop a highly penetrant B-cell leukemia with multi-organ infiltration and early death. Many biological conditions during the development and function of blood cells are mediated by RAS, such as apoptosis, cellular proliferation, intracellular signaling, mobilization, angiogenesis, and fibrosis. The aim of this paper is to review recent developments regarding the actions of local BM RAS in the genesis of leukemia and other malignancies molecules.
Yang D, Wang L, Lin P, et al.An immortalized steroidogenic goat granulosa cell line as a model system to study the effect of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-stress response on steroidogenesis.
J Reprod Dev. 2017; 63(1):27-36 [PubMed
] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
With granulosa and theca cells, the ovaries are responsible for producing oocytes and secreting sex steroids such as estrogen and progesterone. Endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) plays an important role in follicle atresia and embryo implantation. In this study, goat granulosa cells were isolated from medium-sized (4-6 mm) healthy follicles. Primary granulosa cells were immortalized by transfection with human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) to establish a goat granulosa cell line (hTERT-GGCs). These hTERT-GGCs expressed hTERT and had relatively long telomeres at passage 50. Furthermore, hTERT-GGCs expressed the gonadotropin receptor genes CYP11A1, StAR, and CYP19A1, which are involved in steroidogenesis. Additionally, progesterone was detectable in hTERT-GGCs. Although the proliferation potential of hTERT-GGCs significantly improved, there was no evidence to suggest that the hTERT-GGCs are tumorigenic. In addition, thapsigargin (Tg) treatment led to a significant dose-dependent decrease in progesterone concentration and steroidogenic enzyme expression. In summary, we successfully generated a stable goat granulosa cell line. We found that Tg induced ERS in hTERT-GGCs, which reduced progesterone production and steroidogenic enzyme expression. Future studies may benefit from using this cell line as a model to explore the molecular mechanisms regulating steroidogenesis and apoptosis in goat granulosa cells.
Okamura T, Nakajima Y, Katano-Toki A, et al.Characteristics of Japanese aldosterone-producing adenomas with KCNJ5 mutations.
Endocr J. 2017; 64(1):39-47 [PubMed
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Somatic mutations in KCNJ5 gene have been identified in patients with adrenal aldosterone-producing adenomas (APAs). We previously reported that Japanese patients with APAs had distinct characteristics from patients in Western countries; i.e. they had a high frequency of KCNJ5 mutations and exhibited a frequent association with cortisol co-secretion. Therefore, APAs among Japanese patients may have different features from those in Western countries. We added recent cases, examined 47 cases (43% male) of APAs, including clinicopathological features, KCNJ5 mutations, and the mRNA levels of several steroidogenic enzymes, and compared the results obtained to those reported in other countries. While the prevalence of KCNJ5 mutations is approximately 40% in Western countries, 37 APA cases (78.7%) showed mutations: 26 with p.G151R and 11 with p.L168R. Although a significant gender difference has been reported in the frequency of KCNJ5 mutations in Europe, we did not find any gender difference. However, the phenotypes of Japanese patients with mutations were similar to those of patients in Western countries; patients were younger and had higher plasma aldosterone levels, lower potassium levels, and higher diastolic blood pressure. Reflecting these phenotypes, APAs with mutations had higher CYP11B2 mRNA levels. However, in contrast to APAs in Western countries, Japanese APAs with mutations showed lower CYP11B1, CYP17A1, and CYP11A1 mRNA levels. These findings demonstrated that Japanese APA patients may have distinct features including a higher prevalence of KCNJ5 mutations, no gender difference in the frequency of these mutations, and characteristics similar to the zona glomerulosa.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown that circadian genes might be involved in the development of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Hyperandrogenism is a hallmark feature of PCOS. However, the effect of hyperandrogenism on circadian gene expression in human granulosa cells is unknown, and the general expression pattern of circadian genes in the human ovary is unclear.
METHODS: Expression of the circadian proteins CLOCK and PER2 in human ovaries was observed by immunohistochemistry. The mRNA expression patterns of the circadian genes CLOCK, PER2, and BMAL1, and the steroidogenesis-related genes STAR, CYP11A1, HSD3B2, and CYP19A1 in cultured human luteinized granulosa cells were analyzed over the course of 48 h after testosterone treatment by quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
RESULTS: Immunostaining of CLOCK and PER2 protein was detected in the granulosa cells of dominant antral follicles but was absent in the primordial, primary, or preantral follicles of human ovaries. After testosterone stimulation, expression of PER2 showed an oscillating pattern, with two peaks occurring at the 24th and 44th hours; expression of CLOCK increased significantly to the peak at the 24th hour, whereas expression of BMAL1 did not change significantly over time in human luteinized granulosa cells. Among the four steroidogenesis-related genes evaluated, only STAR displayed an oscillating expression pattern with two peaks occurring at the 24th and 40th hours after testosterone stimulation.
CONCLUSIONS: Circadian genes are expressed in the dominant antral follicles of the human ovary. Oscillating expression of the circadian gene PER2 can be induced by testosterone in human granulosa cells in vitro. Expression of STAR also displayed an oscillating pattern after testosterone stimulation. Our results indicate a potential relationship between the circadian clock and steroidogenesis in the human ovary, and demonstrate the effect of testosterone on circadian gene expression in granulosa cells.
Qi X, Salem M, Zhou W, et al.Neurokinin B Exerts Direct Effects on the Ovary to Stimulate Estradiol Production.
Endocrinology. 2016; 157(9):3355-65 [PubMed
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Neurokinin B (NKB) and its receptor, NK3R, play critical roles in reproduction by regulating the secretion of the hypothalamic GnRH. NKB and NK3R genes are also expressed in the ovary; however, their physiological roles within the ovary are unknown. The aim of this study was to determine whether NKB acts directly on the ovary to regulate reproduction. Injection of NKB into zebrafish accelerated follicle development, increased the mRNA levels of cyp11a1 and cyp19a1, and enhanced estradiol production. Similarly, NKB induced cyp11a1 and cyp19a1 expression in primary cultures of zebrafish follicular cells and stimulated estradiol production from cultured follicles. Furthermore, NKB activates cAMP response element-binding protein and ERK, and ERK inhibitors abolished the effect of NKB on cyp11a1, whereas protein kinase A and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II inhibitors that blocked the activation of cAMP response element-binding protein, attenuated the effect of NKB on cyp19a1 expression. In a human granulosa cell line, COV434, a NKB agonist, senktide, also increased CYP11A1 and CYP19A1 mRNA levels and enhanced aromatase protein levels and activities. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of NK3R reduced senktide-induced CYP11A1 and CYP19A1 mRNA levels. Finally, we found that NK3R mRNA was strongly down-regulated in granulosa cells obtained from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients when compared with non-PCOS subjects. Taken together, our findings establish a direct action of NKB to induce ovarian estrogen production and raise the possibility that defective signaling of this pathway may contribute to the development of PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrinopathy characterized by hyperandrogenism and metabolic disorders. The excess androgens may be of both ovarian and adrenal origin. PCOS has a strong genetic component, and genome-wide association studies have identified several candidate genes, notably DENND1A, which encodes connecdenn 1, involved in trafficking of endosomes. DENND1A encodes two principal variants, V1 (1009 amino acids) and V2 (559 amino acids). The androgen-producing ovarian theca cells of PCOS women over-express V2. Knockdown of V2 in these cells reduces androgen production, and overexpression of V2 in normal theca cells confers upon them a PCOS phenotype of increased androgen synthesis. We report that human adrenal NCI-H295A cells express V1 and V2 mRNA and that the V2 isoform is produced by exonization of sequences in intron 20, which generates a unique exon 20A, encoding the C-terminus of V2. As in human theca cells from normal women, forced expression of V2 in NCI-H295A cells resulted in increased abundance of CYP17A1 and CYP11A1 mRNAs. We also found genetic variation in the intronic region 330 bp upstream from exon 20A, which could have the potential to drive the selective expression of V2. There was no clear association with these variants with PCOS when we analyzed genomc DNA from normal women and women with PCOS. Using minigene expression vectors in NCI-H295A cells, this variable region did not consistently favor splicing of the V2 transcript. These findings suggest increased V2 expression in PCOS theca cells is not the result of genomic sequence variation in intron 20.
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
] Free Access to Full Article 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
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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
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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; 422:182-191 [PubMed
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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.
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
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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 AGActivation of endocrine-related gene expression in placental choriocarcinoma cell lines following DNA methylation knock-down.
Mol Hum Reprod. 2014; 20(7):677-89 [PubMed
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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.